Young Miss Smith is pretty precocious: a successful singing career, a fashion statement queen, and a picture of self-confidence, all at 12-years-old. I’ve got no problem using her as a role model for my young daughter. She’s much more my style than Britney Spears, Hilary Duff or Avril Lavigne ever were. And her lyrics are way better for young girls to listen to than One Direction who tell them that low self-esteem makes them beautiful.
So it should come as no surprise, with a career skyrocketing as hers is, that Willow has turned to discussing pre-teen and teen topics in her lyrics. And that, apparently, is what’s upset a number of people.
Willow recently released a song and accompanying video called “Summer Fling.” The lyrics are fairly asinine as suits their pop-rock genre, but the general gist is that young girls are hanging out with boys over the summer, meeting new people, and forging the start of romantic relationships with them. The video shows nothing untoward. Hanging out at a pool, having “deep discussions” under a tree, shooting water guns, jumping on trampolines and speaking in fake accents.
The contentious issue is the line in the song “it’s just a few months, but we do it anyway.” And in the video, the boy she’s seen talking with seems a little older. He may be all of 14!
Judgemental adults have, of course, brought their own interpretation to it – insisting that a fling means a sexual relationship and “just a few months” means a casual relationship.
I’ve got to call bullpoop on that one. I don’t think I know a girl who hadn’t developed a crush, held hands with and even kissed a boy by the summer she was 12. Why so many adults assume that these early relationships are sexual or unusual, I don’t know. Heck, I met my first boyfriend at a family church camp. He lived in Labrador. It was a two-week camp. We fell deeply in love and were crushed at the realization that we would never see each other after that summer. We spent a week holding hands and walking and talking and at the end of the two weeks he kissed me goodbye. We knew it would end quickly but “we did it anyway.” As in, we fell in pre-teen love – a love that usually only lasts a maximum of two months anyway.
Letting your child listen to this song or watch this video will not psychologically damage them (unlike the One Direction song “Beautiful) as one early childhood psychiatrist has insisted. Nor will it encourage them to engage in precocious sexual activity. But it may allow them to explore the issue of “love” and relationships with their peers and their parents by questioning what exactly a summer fling is for a pre-teen or young teen.
And it just may open some parents eyes to the fact that 12 is very different than two. If you really think your 12-year-old daughter is not discussing boys, crushes, relationships, and even sex with her friends than I’m afraid you’re like Peter Pan — living in a fantasy realm where children never grow up. Twelve-year-old boys are sometimes a little slower to develop into those discussions, but trust me, it’s time to be prepared for them.
No parent wants to make that transition with their child where they begin thinking of them as sexual beings, interested in physical relationships with their preferred gender, but it has to happen sometime and the more your eyes are open to it and the more you’re willing to discuss it with them and let them discuss it with you, the easier that transition will be for everyone. So ask your daughter or son about their own summer flings, their plans for junior high, if there are boys or girls they’re interested in. Don’t scold them for expressing that they have that interest. The last thing you want to do as they start to navigate the rocky terrain of relationships and sex is to alienate them with judgment.
Dara Squires is a freelance writer and mom of three. You can contact her on facebook at www.facebook.com/readilyaparent