Monday, February 13, 2012

Skipping the Mall

I haven't been too big on malls generally because I hate shopping and the setting is pretty artificial compared to shopping in a thriving urban setting.  There have been times in my life though that I have gone to malls more often.  One time was when the kids were babies and we wanted to walk during the winter.  When I used to work, I went a little more often to shop too even though I still thought of myself as less of a mall person than many.  Recently, though, I have gone very rarely and hadn't been in several months until this last time.

The kids were long overdue for new sneakers and I exhausted the really close to home places.  Then our coffee maker broke.  Tom and I decided to take the kids shopping at the Boulevard Mall to buy the items we needed.  I am not stupid in that I know that certain stores have sexually suggestive ads in them.  When you walk by Victoria Secrets there are exploitive photos of women.  When you walk by Hollister, there are pictures of teenagers (thankfully at least female AND male) engaged in intensive kissing.  This time, however, it seemed worse.  The ads for some stores were in other parts of the mall, not just their own store.  Perhaps it had always been like this, but now that T & C are 5 and 4, I am noticing it more.

I am not big on shielding kids from everything because that just makes them more curious.  I am probably less apt to worry about hiding the occasional racy content in movies than many parents are.  I would rather them encounter things with us than not with us.  However, exposure to sex or nudity in art or even in movies (providing it isn't gratuitous) as part of the story is completely different from the blatant, in your face, way it is used to sell products.

That's when I was thankful for homeschooling.  It is bad enough that kids see these things when visiting the mall to buy near necessities, but what about the pressure in schools to go to the mall.  In schools there is a lot of pressure to fit it which includes hanging out at the mall or at least buying the right things to wear to fit it in.  If I am uncomfortable about C seeing pictures of women in underwear all over the mall on the rare occasions it happens, how bad is our society that many girls, who spend all week in school away from their parents, go more frequently to the mall (than C) and even feel pressured to do so?

Many would argue that parents should just restrict how often their kids go to the mall.  I am not sure that is the complete answer.  With the level of peer dependency so high, the peer pressure of not fitting in may cause more stress and thus more harm.  Not fitting in may seem like nothing to parents who know better, but to a kid who is couped up with peers full-time, it is everything.  Explain the many child/teen suicide stories on the news.  Eliminate the peer pressure with homeschooling.  That is the answer.

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