Walt Mueller, expert on youth culture, recently chronicled his thoughts while watching the MTV Video Music Awards on September 12: “One theme that seems to have run through the VMA’s and a load of pop music in recent years is the audience of adoring, objectified women. Did you see Drake and the gallery of girls that served as his background? What are we teaching our girls about what makes them valuable and worthwhile? What are we teaching them about how to relate to men? And what are we teaching our boys about how to treat and relate to a woman?”
These are all good questions. Amplify Youth Development spends a significant amount of time talking with teens about how to recognize, and build, healthy relationships. But adult mentors and role models can do more that we can in a few days. How are you doing in communicating these values to your teen? Do you model what a healthy relationship looks like? We parents know we aren’t perfect, but do they get to see what it looks like to disagree respectfully…and see us make up with an apology to each other when we don’t? Perhaps there are examples of good relationships that you could point out to your teen: “Did you notice how Grandpa and Grandma do the dishes together?” “Deacon Jones talked to the adult Sunday School class about how he and his wife never miss their weekly date.” Meanwhile, on the negative side, what kind of input are they getting from media…and are you taking advantage of the opportunity to discuss the messages of the latest songs, or TV shows? For example, Billboard.com’s #1 song for 7 weeks this summer, Love the Way You Lie, by Eminem, takes the message “love hurts” to an appalling level. After describing the physical abuse in detail, the song says “Maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems. Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano…All I know is I love you too much to walk away.” It ends with a threat to tie her to the bed and burn the house down. When young people get the message that love that’s REALLY passionate ends up in jealousy, possessiveness and abuse, they are being set up for a very sad set of expectations about what is “normal” in a love relationship.