Wednesday, November 10

Saving Our Children's Purity, Part II

I started with Part I here, which might be helpful to read first. Because of the deeply personal nature of this post, I previewed it with Big Girl and obtained her permission to post it as it appears for you below.

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"Do you want to sit down?" I asked her as she stood by our bed.

She sighed. "Yes. This could take a while."

And so began the torrent of tears. Big Girl is going to a NET Ministries presentation with the youth group from church, and I'm going to a Moms' Night Out. So Travel Man is taking Little Girl on a date. She wants to go see
Megamind.

Unfortunately, we'd told Big Girl that we probably wouldn't go see it because it's expensive to go to the movies (all four of us) and we've been kinda spendy for the last few months. So she's upset that she isn't seeing a movie she wants to see, but Travel Man is taking her sister to go see it.

But that's the tip, and it was abandoned almost immediately for the more pressing issues: that we aren't letting her have a boyfriend or a cell phone or to go on a "date" with a boy she likes.

I had to really, really think about this. Because there's something WRONG with a 12 year old having a boyfriend. (The cell phone thing, we determined pretty quickly, was a battle she knew she wasn't going to win, but she wanted to vent about it since she thinks everyone sees her as a total freak for not having one.) That, and she was tired of school. It's hard in seventh grade, suddenly there's a lot of history and writing and these are both new - at least in the quantity that they're coming in.

But, back to the boyfriend thing. It's WRONG, for sure, but I couldn't put my finger on it. On the fly, I prayed my favorite prayer to pray when I'm in trouble and need immediate input.

"HELP!!!"

It's actually quite effective.

Travel Man had handled the movie thing already, and I suddenly had my answer for the boyfriend issue.

"If you have a boyfriend now, what's left for later?"

"Huh?"

"If you start dating now, at 12, and you have a boyfriend, what's left to happen later, say, in four years?"

"I have a deeper relationship with him later."

Oh, horrid words! She has NO IDEA what that means to a 16 or 17 year old boy!! She's so innocent!

Trying not to cringe, trying not to pull punches, I finally realize that I have to let her have the information I didn't really think I'd need to share with her for years. But, let's face it: she's not me. She's not, at 12, the size of her nine year old sister. She's not bespecled, she has no acne. She isn't a "carpenter's dream." She's not so socially awkward that she sometimes hides from people she knows in public so she doesn't have to say hi to them. She is BEAUTIFUL and smart and funny and confident and outgoing and did I mention beautiful? (Protecting her innocence might be a real nightmare for my poor husband.)

When I was 12, boys ignored me. Unless it was to throw gypsy moth caterpillars at me. I liked being ignored better.

Not Big Girl. She's amazing. She's who I wanted to be at 12. And now I see God's wisdom and protection in the late-blooming nature of my whole life.

I have to tell her that the "deeper relationship" very often turns to sex. Girls lose their virginity. They have babies. Her aunt delivered a baby for a mother who was my precious Big Girl's
age. The culture is a cesspool, and even though I do everything I can to protect her, and even though she obeys me without question when we're walking through the mall and I order the girls to "look down quick!" so we can run a gammet of disgusting pictures and displays in shops, stuff is there. And it seeps in. And for boys, it is FAR worse! I try to explain as best as I can without details, that the visual makes boys' and men's brains fire like mad. Her dressing modestly protects not only her, but also the boys she knows. That it's scary-hard for those boys who want to remain pure for their future wives because the cesspool is EVERYWHERE. I get frantic (partly to snap her out of her hysterics, partly because, dammit, I've been holding this in for years): I can't walk through the mall without eight six-foot by four-foot signs of women in their underwear being plastered in front of SANTA CLAUS AT THE MALL! I can't check out at Wal Mart without magazines discussing things that children should never see! I don't mention that I'm sick of pedophiles designing clothes that try to make my innocent girls look like hookers. But she starts to see a little.

I explain again:

"Honey, if you start dating now, you have a boyfriend now, in four years, if you want to show your love, what's left? Where do you go?" Now she's just staring at me, wide-eyed. "Honey, those boys are so pressured now ... "

Here I turn to my patient husband, who's been listening to me try with all my might to help her understand what I'm protecting her from without actually going too far.

"Honey, it's worse now. How bad was it for you when you were a boy?"

"Awful. And now is just as bad, and I'm an old married guy."

I turn back to my wide-eyed daughter.

"Big Girl, sweetheart, those boys are so pressured into thinking that the way you express that deeper love is to give up your virginity. That is so dangerous for so many reasons, but let's remember the most important is that it puts your very soul in mortal danger. After being with someone for three, four years, you WANT to show them how much you love them. But you can't get married when you're 16."

She's already said that she wasn't going to do that. But I know better. Sadly, I know better.

"When you wait to have a real boyfriend until you're 16, then when that three or four years go by and you want your love to be deeper, then you're *ready to be married*! And that's why we don't want you to have a boyfriend. Because you need to save that special time for when you are ready, emotionally, to have a boyfriend."

At this point, she was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. She started getting silly, laughing a little, and changing the subject. I pressed her for an answer, though. "Even if you don't totally agree, do you at least *understand* our reasons now?" She did.

And, at 11:45 PM, she skipped upstairs to go back to bed.


5 comments:

Leslie McCaddon said...

My big girl is only 6 right now, but I've been asking myself how to protect her purity ever since my conversion 5 years ago. Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom. It has given me so much to think about!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you for this! My parents started really early with me and my sisters (I think I was three when she started conditioning me -- that's what it is, let's be honest). I hope she'll soon understand just how lucky she is to have parents who care about her so much that they'll risk being unpopular.

Unfortunately, she'll probably have a friend who has sex, oral sex or another experience in the next few years. I pray A) that this doesn't happen to one of her friends, but B) that she witnesses the pain in that and seeks the true freedom that Theology of the Body can bring.

Whenever I read blogs by you wonderful Catholic moms, I realize just how much I have to learn before I get married and have my own children. Thank you for your early advice!

evanscove said...

Since I'm not a parent, I can't really know what it's like for those of you who are going through all this stuff with your kids. But you're right on target with everything you said. Twelve-year-olds don't need to be dating, and they don't understand that at that age they're not ready for a serious romantic relationship and that they're very vulnerable. Besides, relationships at that age usually don't last long, so having a boyfriend/girlfriend is pretty pointless anyway.

And thank you for pointing out the pressures that young guys are under. Your daughter definitely needed to hear that side of the issue as well. When I was in the 9th grade, I was considered weird by some because I didn't have a girlfriend and didn't fool around--and that was at age 14/15!!! And you're right to tell your daughter about how guys are very easily stimulated by what they see and that girls need to be careful not to do things--intentionally or otherwise--that will throw temptations in our faces. Even as a 35-year-old man, I still can't help but notice not only women but young girls who dress provocatively. And I'm single and never been married but am determined to maintain my purity--but it's herculean challenge at times! As a college instructor, it was really hard for me to maintain proper focus whenever I had to be around young college girls who, quite frankly, dressed like street walkers! But I digress...

Anyway, thanks so much for sharing all of this. I'm sure plenty of parents who, like you, are trying their best to keep their children pure are not alone in their endeavors. And you're helping folks like me who don't have kids develop a greater understanding of what Christian parents often have to go through these days.

Keep up the wonderful parenting!

Evan

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thank you for these posts! I have been thinking about and struggling with these very ideas since my oldest son was born - he's now 10. I love the reasons you gave to your daughter for waiting to date. And, we've had similar conversations about the cell phone as well. It's nice to read blog posts like this because I have had arguments with other adults about why I don't think "Twilight" is appropriate for my son or my daughter (ever). Thank you, thank you!

Ink said...

Here's a message to Big Girl, from me: a Catholic school girl who deals with the same issues.

Big Girl: Boyfriends really aren't all that they are hyped-up to be. Especially when you're all twelve. Honestly, they're just more work! Boys are typically very clingy and annoying. If, by some amazing streak of fate and luck, you find an exceptionally mature boy, do you know what you do with him? Make him your best friend. Do everything together. Make your families friends. Be real friends. For a very long time. That real friendship is the basis for absolutely everything. Dress modestly at all times. If he objects, he's not a good enough boy. If he encourages it, have him meet your mom. =P A long-term friendship--a REAL friendship--one where you can talk for hours about everything, even inane things like how your day was! and not get sick of the conversation? That is what is real. In the end, if he decides he really loves you and will actually marry you some day, well then, you're marrying your best friend! If not, you have one heck of an awesome friend.

Who are your heros?

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