“This is the life
Somebody’s looking out for cop cars
Girls on the roof
It looks like a scene out of American Pie
Locked in the bathroom
Just me and Danielle
This is life as we know it…
Never growin’ up
We party all night
We can die
When we’re older baby
We’re livin the dream
Some dude is runnin’ round naked
We’re laughin’ out loud
When the sun comes up
We’re so messed up
But we’ll do it all over again”
These are just some of the lyrics to “Life as We Know It” – one of the popular songs of the summer by Allstar Weekend. Although these lyrics are mild compared to most, the message resonates with what many of the teens I work with perceive as “the life”. It’s a life espoused by popular stars like Rihanna and Ke$ha, a life where joy comes from being drunk or high and not remembering what happened the night before. It’s a life filled with bathroom hookups, where girls make out with one another to get a rise, where guys and girls think it’s funny to run around naked. It’s a life heavily influenced by the pornification of our culture and where the rules for real life are mysteriously suspended: other than feeling a hangover, there are no consequences.
Honestly, it’s hard to watch a movie like American Pie (and any of it’s sequels) or to take in any of today’s popular music videos without getting caught up in what Hollywood often portrays as “the good life”. Whether it’s in the movies, pornography or in glossy magazines, the media today does a great job of selling this life to our kids and to us.
When I talk to kids today, it’s hard for them to see why they should wait to have sex and why they should look forward to marriage. They don’t want to think about the future, because the only future that they have seen through their parents’ relationship to each other looks pretty bleak. Additionally, so many of their parents aren’t carefully monitoring the content they take in—whether pornography or pop music—and, as a result, the only message getting through to their kids is Hollywood’s message of sex without consequences and life without rules.
As parents, we must consider whether we are providing a compelling alternative to the Hollywood lie. In our own life, are we focused on those things that are truly good, true and beautiful, or have we also bought into the lie? In our marriages, are we modeling a love that endures, or are our kids getting the idea that we “settled” and are missing out on living the Sex In the City/Real Housewives life? Could we do a better job of protecting them from harmful content?
Perhaps you know that you haven’t done a great job of modeling healthy love and marriage to your son or daughter. Perhaps you haven’t been using filters to protect your kids from pornography, and perhaps you have allowed your kids to listen and watch a wide variety of content over the years. If that is the case, it’s not too late to have an honest conversation with your kids about life, love and sex. Our kids want our advice and honesty. Chances are, you know the difference between real life and what Hollywood life looks like, and you can help your kids navigate between truths and lies. You have also likely felt the impact of “The Fall”, and you can help your kids understand that the choices they are making even now can, and often does, have consequences later in life. It’s time to step up and help our kids understand life as it’s really meant to be lived, not as they just know it from media.