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As a family of servants of God, we seek to Glorify Him by offering our lives as living sacrifices, being intentional about engaging people with Christ and the Gospel, and using the talents and training He has given us through grace to proclaim the Gospel of Grace to those near and far.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mother of a Girl? READ THIS!

On facebook today, Meg posted a link to a blog I'd never visited.  But the article is about something that has really been on my mind lately.  (esp. after a week of shopping for white sandals for Naomi and only finding high-heels)

The following article is written by Sarah of Clover Lane.

What About Our Girls? Childhood Cut Short

About two weeks ago, a childhood friend, Jane, sent me all the letters I wrote to her (there were a lot!) while I was in junior high (6th-8th grade) and then during my first 2 years in high school.

We all read them together as a family and laughed so hard at me.  I will fully admit they make me sound a little nerdy, and very very young.  But I wasn't "nerdy" really, I swear!  I was well liked, had a great group of friends.  My parents lived a simple life, and old-fashioned values were at the forefront of their parenting style.  We watched little TV...we only had 3 channels I think then anyways, we played outside, we stayed home a lot.  My parents weren't social butterflies, my mom was at home, my Dad worked hard.  My friend's parents were the same way.  Sure, their parents had different sets of rules, we weren't all exactly alike, but if it wasn't one thing it was another.  It was a safe, lovely environment to grow up in.

In 8th grade my friends would get together and we would shoot hoops, takes walks, see who could draw Garfield or Snoopy the absolute best with no tracing paper.  That was it.  We didn't talk about boys, who cares about boys?  I knew there were maybe two or three girls who liked boys in 8th grade...I remember a little gossip here and there but I had a big group of friends and we stayed far away from that stuff.  We didn't check out where each other's clothes were bought...sure we didn't want to stick out, but stick out meant, God forbid, having a bra strap showing (the bra we just started wearing!), or wearing something completely inappropriate, and mostly we saw each other in uniforms so the whole competition thing was pretty darn useless.  We didn't wear makeup...we weren't allowed to, and if I ever experimented with it, it was in the privacy of my own home.  By my junior and senior year of course, I'd say that would all change, but at the time I was in junior high.

I am raising a daughter who is in 8th grade presently.  When I read those letters that I wrote at the same age as she is today,  I cannot believe the change that has taken place in 30 years.  I am so mad.  And sad.  And then mad all over again.  For both of us.

These girls of ours, WHAT ARE WE DOING????   WHY WHY WHY are we letting our kids grow up so fast?  I am trying the darned best I can to let all of my children have a normal, long childhood but it seems like I have to fight tooth and nail ALL the time.  I can stand strong as much as possible, trust me, I'm willing to fight the fight, but I feel like I'm up against the world, and in spite of all my attempts at normalizing this stupid rate of a super rushed childhood we have created, it is impossible, yes impossible, to keep all the crap out.

We went shopping for Confirmation dresses recently.  It's slut-world out there, I won't mince words.  Yes, it is.  After four stores, we find something we both love...long enough, but not covered up on top enough, but by this time we will take what we can get.  We luckily have a little sweater to wear over the top and have someone to do a quick alteration.  Now on to shoes...here are our choices...4 inch heels or these 5 inch heels?  No way...I will shop till I drop...and will have to...to find something low enough.  But  EVERYONE is wearing heels like this I am told.

Let's talk about EVERYONE.  I was reminded by someone my parent's age about the mysterious "everyone" argument..."oh, we heard the everyone argument...remember that everyone does not exist.".  I know, I said.  I remember pulling it myself a few times.

But then I looked back at some of the discussions my daughter and I've had and I started thinking of when the everyone argument reared it's ugly head.  I had this realization.  A long time ago, everyone did not exist...maybe everyone was a figment of a fearful teenage imagination, or maybe she did exist...but everyone, in reality was 1 or 2 or 3 girls out of 30.

Let me tell you the frustrating, disheartening reality today...everyone has magically multiplied!!!!  She is not one girl, she is half the class, maybe even more!  Thanks to a gosh darn lot of wimpy, irresponsible, "let's be friends with our kids" parents (I told you I was mad!), the army of everyone has quickly multiplied and is pulling out all the punches...they are armed and dangerous and very very real.  Like I said, I am willing to fight the fight, but honestly, I don't have the army of comrades on the my side that my parents had generations ago.  The other side has grown, is everywhere, all consuming, all the time...left and right they hit me with sucker punches that leave with wide shocked eyes, and a gaping mouth, thinking, "What the he-double-toothpicks are those parents thinking?"

I found myself recently browsing the book department, teen section, of Target.  They have 30 different books on vampires, with sexy looking girls on the cover.  How many people can write about vampires wanting to (you fill in the blank and let's not be stupid and hide beyond innuendo) young girls?  Apparently quite a few.  My blood just started to boil as I looked at the other "not vampire" choices.  I wrote down the titles of these books:
Pretty Little Things
Pure Sin
A Tale of Two Pretties
On the bottom shelf, in the corner, is a stack of dusty copies of "Three Cups of Tea".  Thanks Target!  We'll go home and dig through the dusty tomes of literature,  I'll do some major time-consuming research, we'll find something normal, healthy, and appropriate.  Maybe we'll find something that doesn't make my daughter think that all girls care about is makeup, boys, her sexuality, and being popular.  Where are the feminists when you need them?  Nowhere to be found!  

I know what you might be thinking...we had Judy Blume!  Everything wasn't all perfect back in our day and age.  Judy Blume was IT though!  Remember the ruckus she caused?  Your mom had two books to say, "No, I don't think so honey" to.  One was about gosh darn periods!  See how far things have come?  I have bigger battles to fight!

Sexy, sexy, sex, sex, sex.  Everywhere. Walk by any teenage store.  Half dressed pouty sexy models with hardly any clothes on, or worse yet are the giant posters with boys and girls laying all over each other with hardly any clothes on.  The TV shows I hear these girls talk about watching.  Parents letting their children watch!  Have you paged through Seventeen magazine lately?  It's not our Seventeen magazine that's for sure. TV, Hollywood, the music industry...oh barf.  Pure barf all of the time.  PG-13 is the new R, what a scam.  Why would I want my 13 year old to see such trash let alone my 16 year old?  Once it's in their minds, it's never out.  It makes an impression whether they or YOU, are conscious of it or not.  Every image, every act, every word, it's in their brains forever.  Why would I want my children's minds filled with trash?  ALL these little impressions...day in and day out...add up to a difference in the way girls view their purpose, their bodies, their sexuality.  (If you have time, watch this on advertising and women....and just a tip of the iceberg.)

Like I said, I'm willing to fight the fight but it's a weary, sometimes lonely battle.  I dream of a revolution.
I fear what the future holds.  Can it get worse?  Oh, yes it can.  It seems the trickle down effect is moving at a faster and faster rate.  High school girls look, dress, experience what college-aged girls did in our generation, junior high seems like high school,  these little 4th and 5th grade girls all read, see, hear, dress like girls growing up too fast.  Childhood ends now in what?  First grade?

Our parents and even more so, our grandparents, would have never put up with this crap infiltrating their children's world.  They considered it their job to protect these vulnerable years, to filter out the lower element of life, to maintain a strict sense of values and morals in their homes.

I think if my mom and dad would have let me see a risqué movie, or dress in a certain way, they would have been so embarrassed in front of their peers.  They and most of the parents I knew, had a very strong sense of pride in the way they were raising their children.  It would have been shameful to let your little girl wear skin tight pants and high heels at 13.  It would have been shameful if one of their children came home from a get together and said, "Oh their parents let us watch _____."  (insert a movie with bad language or any sexual content.)  Now I dare say it's almost the opposite.  Does pride in parenting exist?  There is little if any shame or guilt.  I have heard so many stupid excuses: "Well you can't raise them in a bubble."  Or "it's just funny, they don't really know"  or "oh, it's not that bad", or "they'll just see it/hear it/play it at a friend's house anyways" or "it's just the fashion nowadays" or "they all have to grow up sometimes" or "if you keep it from them they'll just want it more", with a roll of the eyes and a shrug of the shoulders and a turn of the back.

I think even if we are strict and we see this awful highway robbery of our girl's childhoods, we are conditioned, slowly conditioned, by this vast majority of parents shirking responsibility, to accept less than the best.  I know I've given into little things I never should have, but felt I needed to choose my battles.  Saying yes to mascara seemed like nothing compared to saying no to the totally inappropriate movie that everyone was going to see.  Can you imagine if we had the same ideals as our grandparents generation toward dating, clothes, proper behavior, exposure to images and shows?  So we are being conditioned to accept less and less of a moral standard by those that have little or no standard.  They are influencing us whether we think they are or not.  And their children are influencing our children so their lack of parenting affects us all.

It's not our kids we have to blame.  It's us.  I had a conversation with my mom the other day about how frustrated I was, and she said something that struck me.  It was about the lack of adults she sees parenting.  Oh, by age circumstances, you can call them adults, but they aren't really.  I think that's so accurate.  I see in my generation, a lack of maturity.  I see so many mothers, grown gosh-darn grown women, wanting popularity for their daughters, more than they want to protect them.  They want their daughters dating, dressed as good as the next girl no matter what that entails.  They want in on the gossip, wouldn't think of saying no if that meant their daughter had to sit home, not be in the popular group, have what everyone else has.  They tease about boyfriends, putting pressure like these kids don't have enough already.  They allow the craziest things because I think, it somehow gives them a sense of  being "in" themselves.  They don't entertain the thought of what is best for their daughter, especially when it means taking a different path from the norm, not following the crowd.  Reliving some imagined desired youth and stripping their own sweet child of hers.  Talk about selling out.  Taking something a child can never ever get back, for the benefit of their own ego.  There is a price to pay no doubt.  The child pays it in the form of her childhood gone too soon.

I think all of us mothers of daughters who care about preserving our daughter's innocence need to be angry.  We need to speak up, and sure lead by example, but not always quietly.  I know I've felt timid about saying no to a movie a group of mothers said yes to, afraid to offend. I'm not so sure I am timid anymore. I think that should be reversed somewhat...it's not me that should be embarrassed.  I think as I have gotten older, braver, and see these poor girls dealing with so much too soon, I feel more emboldened  to speak up, not righteously, but quietly and clearly.  Maybe if more mothers feel like they aren't alone, if more mothers think "I'm not the only one" we can bolster each other up. I know there are a lot of us out there...we are just busy fighting the onslaught!  In fact, soon after my dress-finding-frustration, I saw a photo on someone's blog (I'm sorry I don't know who!) of a group of beautiful classy older teenage girls all dressed up for a dance...they all had tasteful, beautiful, long dresses on.  No sexy pouts, no in your face tartness, just classy.  It made me feel so much brighter!  I know you mothers are out there!  We also need to listen to our parents and grandparents and ask them to remind us of their stories growing up...with a childhood intact, not ending at 7.  Of course a huge part of this is the endless battle to keep all this crap out of our homes.  We should expect to do that, of course, that's our job.  More importantly, we shouldn't feel like we have to compromise I think.  Our daughter's will thank us for it one day, I have hope that they will.

So, mothers, what are we going to do about this?

1 comment:

Rachel E. said...

You hit the nail on the head. Straight to the point. I am not afraid to tell my 13 year old no and she knows it.