Not that long ago the path in life seemed pretty basic. Kids would go to school, meet their sweetheart in their teens/early 20s, get married and start a family. Things have changed a lot in a short amount of time, and the path that made plenty of people happy has been tossed aside.
The Nuclear Family
The nuclear family used to be what everyone strived to have. A mother, father and a few children. This social unit started to disappear as more couples decided to focus on themselves, putting off having children either through birth control or abortion.
Having abortions was once something that women did in secrecy and regardless of the reasons or emotions behind it, it wasn’t something to flaunt. That has changed. Campaigns like Shout Your Abortion, which encourages women to “normalize abortion through art, media, and community events all over the country,” are being promoted not just to adults, but teenagers as well — and they’re listening.
Although teen pregnancy rates have declined over the past decade, abortion rates are pretty steady. Adolescents— people 19 or younger — make up about 12% of all abortions. In fact, about one in four women in the US has had an abortion by the time they are 45. With these kinds of statistics and the push to be proud of abortions, it’s no wonder that the nuclear family is starting to decline.
Husband and Wife
Up until the mid to late 90s, the typical relationships portrayed on TV and in the media where male and female. That started to change with shows like My So-Called Life and The L Word. Suddenly teenagers were being exposed to same-sex relationships.
For some people, these shows helped them identify feelings they had already been experiencing, for others, it became a fad, one that especially affected girls. Depending on where you lived, it became cool to make out with your best friend at a party or hold hands while walking down the hallway at school.
Many teenagers grew out of this phase, but for some, it caused a lot of unneeded confusion. Fads like this still exist today, but now they have progressed to more vital parts of a person’s identity.
He, She, They
Gender identity is something that most people never thought about. You were born, the doctor announced if you were a boy or girl, got a spank on the bottom and off you went to start a new life with your parents. Things are no longer that simple.
Being transgender means that you don’t identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. The term has progressed in recent years to also include people who don’t identify with any gender at all.
While accepting and loving yourself is important, like most things with teenagers, they take it to the max. Online and in the media, celebrities and social influencers are constantly encouraging children and teenagers to break gender stereotypes. This is great in some ways, and potentially harmful in others. While we definitely want more women working in the fields of science and math, some social influencers take it to the extreme, causing non-transgender youths to question their gender identity.
Even worse than that, is the media now tells parents if they don’t support their children deciding they are transgender, they’re horrible parents. While a mom and dad should always love their child unconditionally, they shouldn’t feel like bad people if they don’t want to put their 12-year-old daughter on hormone therapy. After all, only 0.3% of the adult population in the US identifies as transgender, but if you walked through the halls of a high school, you would think that number is significantly higher.
So, how can we make sure that today’s children and teens feel loved and accepted, while also making sure they aren’t being overly influenced by their peers? Since getting rid of the internet isn’t really an option, we need to make sure that they aren’t overexposed to social media influencers and teach them how to stay true to themselves and the values that their parents instill in them.
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