I guess I missed this commercial for the Kia Sorento during the Superbowl, but I just saw it on TV for the first time tonight. And boy, was it adorable. If lying to your kids and then shutting them down when they express an interest in understanding how the world works is adorable. Based on the comments I’ve seen on the YouTube videos, most people think it’s cute and hilarious. I find it seriously disturbing.
In case you haven’t seen it, the video is here.
By the third time this commercial came on, I was ready to throw something at the TV. The dad’s “Babylandia” story is kind of cute and silly. But the fact that it’s used to completely avoid having a serious discussion with his son, who is just looking for some information, is disturbing. I’m not saying that he should have gone into a thorough and graphic discussion of sex and reproduction, but he could have simply given a short, truthful answer. Or said that they could talk about it later. They are in a car, after all. Instead, he makes up a long and elaborate lie.
What’s wrong with that? We tell kids about Santa and the Easter bunny. It’s all cute and innocent, right? I’m actually on the fence about Santa, but that’s a totally different issue. Santa and the Easter bunny aren’t used to try to explain everyday, natural phenomena. They’re used to add magic to specific holiday celebrations. This kid was asking a serious question, and he deserved a serious answer.
But then there’s the shut-down. What was that about? The kid starts to point out the contradiction between the obvious BS his dad just told him, and a likely much more factual account that a friend told him. But before the boy could even finish his sentence, his dad made use of one of the fabulous features of the new Kia Sorento to shut the kid up.
Hey, son! You want to discuss information about sex that you got from a friend? It makes me too uncomfortable. Here, watch TV! But you know, when you’re a teenager (and far less comfortable discussing these things with me, probably because I’ve been avoiding these it your whole life), make sure you come to me for information. Because safe sex is important. Just not right now.
At least, I assume the dad would think some version of that. And that’s the problem. At least, it’s part of the problem. Parents hope their kids will feel comfortable coming to them with questions about sex, relationships, drugs, you name it. But for that to happen, parents have to be comfortable having these discussions, too. Even when they think it’s too early–because it’s never too early for kids to start learning about sex from their peers, TV, whatever. And if you don’t supply the information, they’ll go to those other sources.
The truth is, the sex talk can’t wait until you’re ready. It can’t wait until the age when you think your child should know about sex. Because by then, they already know. At least, they know some version of it. And they no longer care to hear anything from you. The sex “talk” should really be a serious of talks that starts at an early age–about the age of that boy in the commercial. This blog post about having “the talk” has some pretty good information (even if you aren’t really into the overly religious bent).
The other part of the problem is the shut-down itself. Your child is trying to ask you a serious question about how something works. You not only avoid the question, or even ignore it, you hurry to shut your child up so he can’t even ask the question. What message does that send? How can you then be disappointed in the state of critical thinking and scientific inquiry in kids these days if we can’t even let them ask a question because it makes you uncomfortable?
I’m sure most people will think I’m just being a party-pooper. After all, it’s just a stupid commercial. I guess I just don’t agree with that. Even if it is only a commercial, it still sends a message about what is socially acceptable. It conveys that this kind of behavior should be seen as funny.
But it’s not funny. It’s terrible parenting. Period.