Hallelujah Highway

Celebrating the Journey

TMI ~ Rae

on October 11, 2012

I recently escorted my 13 year old to the first day of 8th grade.  On that day I gleefully took pictures of her by the school marquee even as she grumbled, “None of the other parents are taking pictures”!  I replied with a smile, “Their parents must not love them as much as I love you!” I then proceeded to inform her amidst her grousing that yes, I absolutely planned to continue this tradition that I had started when she was in preschool all the way through high school. Also, without question, her first year in college, even if it is in another state, I will be there snapping pictures.  She rolled her eyes expertly, then smiled and called out “love you” as she skipped off to her classes.

Raising daughters is tough.  I constantly struggle with knowing how much to guide, how much to rule, how much to annoy, and how much to stand by and watch. Ironically, for being a conservative Christian, I find that I am actually more liberal in my rearing philosophy than some of my “liberal” friends.  I have let my daughters watch rated R movies- of course depending on the content and I or their father watches it with them. I have let them read books that others might not. My daughters and I are all huge Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Game fans.  We let my eldest daughter wear makeup when she turned 12.  She is currently enthralled with the boy band “One Direction” and her room is decorated to proclaim as much.  She knows she will be allowed to date when she is 16 (unless her father can find a way to prevent it).  Furthermore, I answer ALL their questions- even the uncomfortable ones, as honestly and openly as possible. 

This philosophy of parenting was tested a few months ago when my daughter asked me what “69” meant, because she heard the boys at school using it and laughing. My heart stopped and I struggled internally. How much do I tell her? How do I say it in a way that will let her know she can trust me to tell her the truth, but in a way that won’t scar her for life? Should I tell her anything at all???  I could try to distract her with shopping or food…..

But then I thought back to the way my mother raised me. She never skirted around issues; she never held back. Yet she was/is the most pious, honest, virtuous woman I know.  She always let me read books, unknowingly creating my obsession with trashy romance novels. She let me watch movies (my first movie- swear to candy- was Jaws at age 3!!!). She included me in conversations about politics. AND most of all she answered my questions.

One of my high school teenage friends who had a “UBER CHRISTIAN MOTHER” (if you know what I mean) wasn’t allowed to watch rated R movies; she couldn’t read books that were deemed inappropriate nor even listen to secular music. That young girl was sneaking out of the house at age 13 and was sexually active by age 14.

Now I was far from perfect as a teen, but I’ll tell you what I didn’t do. I didn’t sneak out of the house. I didn’t fool around with boys. I didn’t experiment with drugs or alcohol.  I believe this is because my natural normal curiosity was allowed to explore healthy avenues. I could read about romance. I could listen to teenage music. I could watch scary movies and laugh about how fake it all was. And if I had a question, I knew my mother would answer it.

So when my 13 year old asked me what “69” meant, I took a deep breath and I told her. I looked her in the eyes and explained it in a matter of fact tone.   She shuddered, shrugged and said “boy are gross” and we went on with our day. 

I am not saying that’s what every parent should do. You know your kid and what they can handle. But I feel that one of my tasks as a parent is to teach her to deal with life. If boys are teasing her, how does she react? If someone asks her to ditch school with him/her, what will she do? If she is offered drugs or alcohol, how will she respond? She is in Middle School and I would be ignorant if I thought those types of dilemmas don’t face middle school students. Moreover, I can’t be there when she makes those decisions and reactions. I can only arm her with truth and moral guidance and steadfastly pray that she will make the best choices possible.

I do worry that it might be too much too soon. Her father struggles with not locking her up in a turret somewhere. But I also worry that if I don’t answer her questions, she will find other people or inappropriate ways of answering them.

 So I answer them, I take pictures, and I pray.


One response to “TMI ~ Rae

  1. Cindy says:

    It is a wonderful thing when your children know they can come to YOU and ask questions like that. Some would NEVER ask their mother those questions. This is trust and love knowing she wasn’t going to get some sick or misguided answer from another source (Friends).


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