Her eleven year old eyes met mine and she smiled, handing me tissues.
“I told you the movie would make you cry!” Her bell-like laughter bounced around the room, and my heart captured it.
Emotion leaked out of the corners of my eyes again. This time joy overflowed.
“Mom, I just love this weekend. It’s the best ever,” she beamed.
With men sent to the cold cabin in the woods, estrogen prevailed in our home as together, as we walked through Family Life Ministry’s “Passport to Purity.” Familiar topics discussed, CD listened to, and new commitments made, we engaged each other in dialogue that hopefully will impact her future in a positive way. She shared really personal things about herself and I did the same. We both talked about our mistakes and struggles (age-appropriately for me) and I shared with her my hopes for her future with her husband. We are closer as a result.
If you aren’t familiar with the materials – they are awesome – seriously one of the best tools out there for helping your daughter navigate the difficult waters of peers and sexual pressures. One of the reasons that I chose to homeschool my kids (and I don’t really homeschool my older ones, they do junior high and high school at PEP to prepare them for college and the world – I just manage the homework) is because I haven’t liked what I’ve seen in the culture. I personally know of several children, who in second, third, and fourth grades were exposed to oral sex encounters on the bus, pornography on the playground, and sexual bullying and abuse where they were forced to watch or participate in behaviors reserved for marriage. Some of these kids were in Christian schools, too.
While my daughter knows what some of these things are, her actual innocence has been preserved thus far for her husband. Her plan is to not date until her dad and I think she is mature enough to do so, and with the purpose of figuring out whether or not a boy is someone she would marry. She plans to not do anything but hold hands and maybe hug before she gets married. She really wants her first “real” boy kiss to be on her wedding day. All of these things were her ideas, not me shoving ideas down her throat or laying down a bunch of rules. Given that she has a number of friends her age in fifth and sixth grades with boyfriends already, I find this remarkable. She loves this about herself right now, and I pray she maintains this solid sense of who she is and Whose she is such that she doesn’t need to denigrate herself to feel appreciated or valued by others. Some of the young women I know who are high schoolers and college students share with me that men expect young women to be sexually promiscuous these days. I’m old enough to remember when those girls who “gave it away for free” were frowned upon – now the opposite is true.
The Family Life materials had a number of “what would you do?” situations, where you had to think through how you would respond. Talking through how she has stood up to her peers in the past and changed the way the crowd behaved, talking through the times when she was the only one who stood up for what was right, and how alone that felt. When she asked me if I had ever done that, I was honest. I told her about having a group of women at my home many years ago, and politely disagreeing with their insistence to watch pornography in my home after a party. They left and went to someone else’s home, and while I was a little discouraged by the event, I didn’t take it personally. I hoped I had represented the Father well, didn’t come off as judgmental, but rather confident and comfortable in my own skin and convictions. One of the women was clearly uncomfortable with the activity, too, but said nothing. They pressured her to come with when they left, and I have no idea whether or not if she did. Please know I understand the pain of making mistakes as moms – we all have our share.
I don’t mean to sound like I think I’m perfect, as I’m far from it! I will tell you that I feel blessed to have the relationships I do with my kids – they are based on mutual respect and this impacts everything. My husband and I have authority in our home, yes, but we have fabulous relationships with the teens and tweener that live here – we listen to contrasting opinions and consider them as people precious to God as we are training them for adulthood. Having said that, however, transparency, apology and honest interaction is the best way to start impacting our relationships from here forward if we need to make changes. It’s never too late to start treating our kids with respect and requiring that behavior from them towards us, too.
Today I dare you to do two things: first, do the hard work of learning how to respect yourself, wrapping your identity up in the Father’s opinion of you alone – it changes everything. He’s a real person, and He loves you. Get to know Him. Second, have transparent (but age-appropriate) conversations with your kids about your own struggles. They know you aren’t perfect and it’s prideful to pretend you don’t make mistakes. It puts walls up between you.
So glad you are on the journey!
Love to you,
So what about you? How have you seen the culture change since you were a kid? What are you doing to prepare your kids? Please share materials – we’d love to know! 🙂