Aqui and alla: Your children and popular culture

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Translated by Carol Alfonso

We live in a world obsessed with celebrities, fame and the latest in the fashion world. Teenagers are usually at the very center of this popular culture and they are more exposed and vulnerable to their influences. In addition, there are complete industries that are dedicated to marketing things like products, music, movies and fashions to younger groups. So sometimes parents feel helpless in trying to compete for their children’s attention and persuade them that some of the values promoted by popular culture and celebrities are not acceptable or can’t be role models.
One can be alone, but sometimes it feels frustrating trying to get their children on the right path. The reality is that popular culture is here to stay and there is no way for young people to evade it. So there’s no choice but to let it be known, understand it and see how they can live together in peace with your influences. First, define your own values and those that are essential to reinforce upon your children. Think about that concept a lot, before talking to your child about it.  Be clear and honest with yourself. We all feel the influence of popular culture and to some extent you should understand it and form an opinion about what you like and what you don’t tolerate. For example, think about how popular culture has affected your way of thinking, your buying decisions or even your personal image.
Your teenage children are also exposed to the most subtle messages of the popular culture and they can be influenced to take risky behaviors.  Many times these powerful messages are implicit. Younger people can sing the lyrics to famous and popular songs, without knowing the hidden messages encoded in them and how these can influence their way of thinking.  Another example is how fashion magazines and celebrities can promote the desire to be very thin or adopting unhealthy fashions. Sometimes these negative values can be destructive and take your children into smoking, purging or using drugs. You’re the best and most important example for your children. Once you decide which values are the most important for you, establish the guidelines for your children to adopt. Talk about the values you see on a daily basis and encourage them to define their own values, to be independent and to have their own judgment.
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