“They grow up so fast!” No matter how old the cliché, ask any parent and they’re sure to agree that it has more than one degree of truth. But how fast is too fast?
On July 12, The New York Times ran an op-ed by Roger Cohen who expresses his concern that his 9-year-old daughter is growing up too quickly – in large part because of marketing efforts toward tweens. For me, it was not such a foreign experience. I myself (or my daughters rather) have been through the tween years and lived to tell about it.
Though my girls are now 16 and 14, the tween years aren’t so far behind me that I don’t remember wondering to myself, “Man, was I this worldly when I was their age?” And to be honest, the answer is undoubtedly “no.”
For one thing, rather obviously, I was never a tween girl. I didn’t care if my shirt matched the grass stains on my knees or if I used the right hair product on my bowl cut – I just didn’t want to be picked last in gym class. But for them it was so different. They always worried about things like “Is this shade of lip gloss still in?” and “Has the Limited sold out of that lemonade peace studs tee I want?”
After reading Cohen’s column I realized just how much of my daughters’ time and energy had (and really still is) devoted to what they would call “fashion” but what others may label “consumerism.” I don’t really know what to make of it – are the tween years just a marketing ploy to get girls who don’t even have allowances yet to spend lots of money? Should parents be keeping a closer eye on what influences their tweens to make decisions – and do their best to shield them from the million-dollar marketing campaigns? Or is it all a part of growing up in a different time and we should just accept it? And how do the decisions tweens make today translate into their susceptibility to peer pressure in the future?