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Sometimes I can be such a dunderhead!

Like last Saturday, for instance, when I saw this headline on the Washington Post web site:

"Catholics Rethink Quinceanera Craze."

I stupidly assumed that it meant that poor Hispanics were rethinking the notion of spending tens of thousands of dollars (and frequently ending up deep in debt) to celebrate their daughters' fifteenth birthdays. Ah, I thought, they are finally starting to get their priorities straight.

But no. The "rethinking" has nothing to do with the issue of whether or not to have a party they cannot afford. The Church has just convinced these parents to use this "opportunity" to push a "pro-chastity message" on their girls.

Now this might be a noble goal -- particularly when dealing with a demographic in which:

... 51 percent of Hispanic girls get pregnant before age 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

But couldn't that message be pushed without spending upwards of twenty grand per kid??

Party or college education? Party or college education? Hmmm.... Is it really that hard to see which will ultimately benefit a girl more in the long run?

According to Luz Reyes, the mother profiled in this article, the party is "a prize for them being good."

Remember when "being good" was what parents expected of their kids? You didn't get a prize for doing it, you just got something unpleasant if you didn't. At the risk of sounding like my mother, it was, in many ways, a better world back then.

Madonna - Like a Virgin - Dress You Up ... is currently playing: Dress You Up from the album Like a Virgin by Madonna.