Should kids listen to the other Dr. Laura's radio show?
Dear Dr. Laura Markham,
I would like to know whether or not it is appropriate for my daughter (aged 11) and son (aged 8) to listen to the Dr. Laura Schlessinger's talk radio as it contains talks about sex and shacking up. I personally like it a lot and think it is a lighthouse for today's messy world.
Thank you and I want to tell you how grateful I am for you and for the other Dr. Laura in helping us to be better parents. Both your work is such a blessing to the world.
I'm so glad you are thinking in terms of protecting your children from the constant references to sex in popular culture. Kids need a childhood, despite the efforts of marketers to dress our nine year olds like porn stars. So I am definitely against exposing young kids to sexual and violent images.
But I strongly advocate teaching kids our own values, so they have a positive framework from which to dismiss what I call the "fast culture" ideas. Ages 8 and 11 are old enough to be having discussions with you about the fact that sex should be part of a loving relationship, that sex carries great responsibility, that sex changes relationships, that teens are not ready to handle the pressures of sex, etc. And I am betting that you already point out to your kids the inappropriate sexual images that your family comes across (they can't avoid them, since they're everywhere!)
So if your kids were watching people on TV "shacking up" that would be a problem. But I think a reference to "shacking up" on Dr. Laura's show is probably ok, because you are listening to it with them, there is no visual, and she is clearly not endorsing it. AND, very importantly, you are there to discuss it with them. Which makes it an opportunity for a wonderful discussion.
How does that conversation go?
"What did you think of that caller today on Dr. Laura who was living with her boyfriend?"
"I don't know."
"I noticed that Dr. Laura called it 'shacking up' because they weren't married. What did you think about that?"
"Most people don't wait till they get married to have sex."
"You're right, most people don't, nowadays. What do you think about that?"
"I don't know. I mean, I know you aren't supposed to, but everyone does."
Now you have a great opening to ask a lot of questions, along the lines of:
"When do you think people are ready to have sex?"
"What do you think changes when you have sex?"
"Did you know that people who live together before they get married are actually more likely to get divorced?" (Yes, it's true. Apparently such couples often don't make an affirmative decision to marry. They drift into marriage because it's harder to move out, or they get pregnant. So they are more likely to divorce.)
The truth is, there is no one conversation on these issues, you have these discussions for years. And 8 and 11 are not too early to begin! In fact, by the time they're fourteen, you won't be able to get them to listen to your ideas, so anytime from 8 on is a good time to start.
I'd love to hear about any discussions you have with your kids about this. And for more ideas on how to have those discussions, you might want to check out the part of this website on Family Communication.
And, BTW, I am so glad that you find my work helpful in your parenting. That makes my day!
Dr. Laura Markham
Dear Dr. Laura Markham,
Thank you for your reply. I feel so honoured.
Yes, I did let my kids listen to Dr. Laura's show and I am happy to get your confirmation on that. I agree and treasure your helpful insights and I shared it with my husband, so I could convince him, too.
So far, there has not been any real big time discussion with our kids yet since the opportunities for them to listen to Dr. Laura's show is not huge. My daughter, Lexine (age 11) likes listening to her. And I am sure, every bit of it helps.
Once again, we thank you from the bottom of our heart!
God Bless You,