Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Growing up with my 'tween: Why I don't want to talk

It wasn’t long ago that she slept on my chest, resting her ruffled bottom in the palm of my hand.  She was my first baby, and now I see her tan and tall, limbs stretching and curves beginning to show, and I see. Suddenly, she is a little woman.

I don’t really want to talk about this, not with her or with you.  I don’t want to talk about growing up and body changes and boys and dating and heartbreak and scary stuff.  I don’t wanna. 

Yet I am more and more convinced, mothers, that we must talk.
We must talk early and often about all things important. Our growing daughters need us, and our ‘tween daughters (mostly) still want to hear what we have to say.  Mothers, we must take advantage of this.

But first, let’s sort out some of the reasons why this is so hard.

Why we don’t talk about important things with our girls.

We are distracted by many things.
There are so many things vying for our attention. Sitting down to connect with the heart of our daughter- does that even make it on the “if I have time” list? 

Our parent’s didn’t talk, much.  Let’s face it, the culture was different when we were kids, and when they were kids… of course, I wasn’t there, but I picture Mayberry. Our parent’s parents really didn’t talk.  I remember the old women in the nursing home being shocked about the young women “flaunting” their pregnant bellies. In their day, even married women hid pregnant bellies along with all evidence of sex.



We don’t know how.  If we did not speak openly in own homes when we were little, how can we begin to have these conversations with our own children? Yet, if we can’t speak openly, how can we teach, and how can we give them permission to question and seek answers?


We are in denial or terrified. We don’t believe they are growing up after all. If we pretend it is not happening, maybe it won’t.

We don’t have all the answers. We know times have changed, and that children are facing these issues at a much younger age. We are tempted to lock them in cages until they are adults so we can all skip this entire battle. If we choose to let them “out” in the world- how do we help them navigate it? 

We feel like hypocrites. Are we really going to tell our children they can’t do something we did? Will they see through our “double standard?” Should we tell them the Truth? Or should we bend His Truth a little bit so we don’t feel like such hypocrites?

We are waiting for that perfect moment. We think somehow we will know, in our gut, or when the stars align just right.  We will have A TALK, and it will go so well that that will be the end of it.  When that day comes, we will be ready for it. But we’re not ready today, so this must not be that day.

We don’t want to ruin their innocence.  We don’t want to end her childhood early. We don’t want to give them information they are not ready for.  We don’t want to be a part of that culture that would rob them of their remaining little-girl days.

And so, we wait.  We get distracted, or we are afraid, or we don’t know what to do, and so we wait. We wait until the big topics come up at school or with friend.  We wait until they ask, or until they stop asking and start getting their answers somewhere else.

Mothers, we dare not delegate this responsibility to the schools or their peers. We must talk. This is one thing I know for certain. 

Father, you have given us a little girl, and this girl grows quickly.  We are her gardeners, for this season, and we are not sure how exactly to care for her while she grows and blooms.   Keep her in Your grace, Father. Feed her body and soul, and keep Your hand on her heart. Use our hands to nurture and care for her in ways that are good for her. Grow her up in You, and grow us up right along with her. In Jesus’ Name, Amen



Join me on Tuesdays for a weekly discussion on raising ‘tween girls.  I am not sure what I’m doing here, but I’ll do it in public. Flounder around with me, will ya?

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Which of these issues do you relate to?
Have you overcome these things in your family?
I’d love to hear from you!

Next week: Why we must talk

41 comments:

  1. My baby girl is only eight... and I want her to stay that way! hahahah. But, since I can't have my way, we already talk about anything and everything. I had an incredible mom who was unbelievably easy to talk to. If I asked her anything, she casually answered as if we were talking about apples and oranges. That's the kind of mom I wanna be. Great post!

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    1. Falen, that is awesome. Maybe you can take notes and give the rest of us tips!!!

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    2. You are a lucky lady, Falen!

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  2. Chris Spradlin wrote an excellent book which you can download online for FREE.....Sex, Lust & XXX....Step up and Fight For Your Kids Purity in A Sex Saturated World. I read this Friday night and loved it. My kids are only 7 and 4, but this is going to hit me quick and I do Not want to be unprepared. Here is a link to the FREE download.

    http://www.epicparent.tv/free-book/

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    1. Thank you Laura I am going to check this out!

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  3. I totally understand! My daughter will soon be 12!!
    I came from a broken home, spent time in foster care, and then finished growing up with my dad & step mom. They weren't talkers. My womanhood 'talk' was a 1950's booklet thrown on my bed with the directions : Read This. (I was born in the 70's!) I have found that I must try much harder than most other moms I know... I have to make a concentrated effort to connect & talk, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me.
    Thanks for the reminder!! :)

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    1. It is not easy... but we can do all things with His help, right?! Even say some of those things OUT LOUD?! Lord help me!

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  4. My ex-stepmother and sex-ed taught me the biology of sex. My mother didn't talk to me about sex at all. I also got stonewalled about doing drugs. So of course I ended up smoking a lot of pot in high school and had a baby at 19. Not at the same time. :)

    My point is that *not* talking to them because you are afraid of sounding like a hypocrite or that telling them something that will ruin their innocence is counter-intuitive. Tell her what you did and then express why you don't want her to make that mistake. She'll be armed with information instead of silence. Not talking to her makes her more susceptible to peer pressure because she won't have the tools to deal with whatever her friends are doing and know how to say no.

    As far as ruining innocence goes, it hasn't been my experience at all. We had the full sex talk with my oldest when he was about 13. He already had the basics down, but we gave him the actual responsibility about sex talk. We gave him doctor moderated teen resources online so he could look things up and ask the professionals questions if he wasn't comfortable coming to us.

    The innocence I saw being ruined was of those girls who weren't able to have those conversations at home. If you don't have them, they can't be prepared for what's going to hit them when the time comes and that is what starts loss of innocence. I ended up jaded and cynical because I had no idea what was coming at all, so did a lot of my friends, and so do a lot of my son's friends including the boys.

    I have a ton more to say, but I'll quit taking up your page.

    Wait, one more thing. LOL The best conversations I have with my kids are one-on-one in the car. With Erik, now 15, all I had to do was start asking him about his friends and what was going on with them. To me, it's the perfect time because they can't get away. I also used news stories to start conversations.

    Never focus on "A TALK" (love how you put that), focus on a commitment to open dialogue from now on.... really, until you're unable to focus because you're 95 and senile. :)

    As an aside (yep.. rambling) that book up there? I looked at the excerpt and it scared the crap out of me. I would never read a book like that in order to preserve a child's innocence. Trying to preserve innocence with fear is just like doing it with no communication. It doesn't work.

    Somehow starting out with

    "Mom and Dad, this bear’s name is Satan, and he is a destroyer! He has deadly claws and fangs that rip flesh, and he is hovering over your kids. If you don’t act, he will steal your daughter’s virginity!"

    doesn't sit well with me.

    Ok. I'm done now. : )

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    1. Amy, thank you so much for your comments. I completely agree that we MUST have open communication, not just a talk. And honesty (combined with wisdom) is also so important. And I LOVE what you said about the car ride. They can't get away! PLUS, it makes for a good place where we can talk without having to make eye contact... maybe a little less threatening, LOL!

      I will check out that book and let you know what I think. I know what you mean about the negative stuff- simply telling our babies "sex is evil and horrible and naughty and if you do it you could DIE and God might even kill you for it" is not a good idea. Yet, I do agree that both adults and children need to be educated on REAL consequences and the risks to body and heart.

      However (and this is where I think we Christians need to improve!) we must ALSO combine the negative education with the beautiful vision of what God intends not only for sex but also for love, marriage, and family.

      And that takes... work. And a lifestyle that speaks that truth. And a conversation that starts early and doesn't end until we are senile.

      I'm exhausted already :)

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    2. OK honestly I thought you were kidding about the bear thing. But .. you weren't.

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    3. *laugh* No, no I wasn't. Direct quote. :) I may not be a religious woman, but I don't think I would have been able to come up with something like that off the top of my head. Definitely not my words.

      What you said about the lack of eye contact in the car is something I hadn't thought to mention. I also find that no matter how shocked you are at what you hear come out of their mouths, keeping calm is paramount. I've done that and then freaked out at home. Not at him, but just "Oh no! My baby isn't a baby!!!!" freaking out. :)

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  5. Absolutely true! This whole and entire post is true, from beginning to end! I always say, if you don't invest or talk to your daughters/sons someone else will. They will for all the wrong reasons and with all the wrong advice.
    If ever there was a time that our children need us, it's really during this stage of their lives.
    I have a feeling that this is going to be the realest post for me, of the entire day!

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    1. Yes. Someone else will, and that is scary. And even if we DO talk to them, others will also talk. So we need to give them not only information, but teach them the ability to discern, to test what people say...

      So now, on to teaching discernment.
      But first, figuring out how to do that and where to start.

      Prayers for us all! This is no small job!

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  6. May I encourage you - may I BEG you - to talk with your daughters. Please! My mother never did talk with me. I found "A BOOK" sitting on a book shelf which I perused often. Mom found me reading it one day and said, "Oh good. If you have any questions, let me know." Once I put the book back, it disappeared.

    I don't think kids will ask questions. Not initially. I think they have to know "all things growing up" is a safe subject. Kids cannot be expected to start that series of conversations.

    I have no daughters. This is just my two cents.

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    1. Jenny, would love to hear how you handle this with boys. Perhaps a guest post?! My boys are younger so I am shelving those questions for now... but my day will come!

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  7. WOW! What a great post! I am struggling with this now as my 9 year old just started shaving.... I don't want to have "the talk" because I don't want to ruin her innocence...but knowing what she's going through, I know we need to talk... it's hard.
    Love your blog. Coming over from the blog hop. Check out mine if you have a chance.
    http://wedratherbecamping.blogspot.com

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    1. My daughter is nine as well, and you are right, it is time for them to learn some basics about being a woman. The change is coming... and fast. I think it is better for them to be prepared rather than horrified! Pray and prepare yourself mama, and then jump in! you don' thave to have all the answers, just be there for her and be honest! With my daughter, it not as big of a deal for her as I thought it was going to be!

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  8. Wonderful post. If only I had read it twenty years ago. Thank you for sharing. Hooking up through OYHT.

    Simply God's Girl

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    1. thanks for commenting- I'll be checking out your place today!

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    1. You too Denise :) Thanks for commenting!

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  10. My girl will be 10 in a few weeks and most days it feels like she is 15. Having a girl is such hard work! I'll be following along and know you aren't alone. :)

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    1. Thank you Nikki! I need to hear that often- I think we all do! This is SUCH a hard job we have!

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  11. I love, love, love Dannah Gresh and her Secret Keeper Girl resources! They have been so helpful to me. I have begun talking with my 10 and 8-year-old daughters about menstruation and sex, and I was surprised by how GREAT it went!

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    1. Mandy, my daughter and I have actually done #1 and we plan to do #2 later this year (with friends!) I really enjoy her materials too and will be blogging about them in the coming weeks!

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  12. Yes, this is relevant to ANY mom of girls! I wrote a post about what to tell our daughters regarding sex. I think the message we traditionally give them (modesty + good girl abstinence) lacks so much. Here's what I wrote: http://www.heirswithchrist.com/2012/06/friday-flashbacks-lets-talk-about-sex.html

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    1. Thank you for leaving the link Rachel! I hope you will keep coming back on tuesdays and participate in the coming discussions! i agree with you very much that our education needs to be more about Jesus, focused on Him and not simply "don't do that it's evil and bad!" God's good plan for us is so much better than what we find when we simply follow our desires!

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  13. As I've been reading this post and the comments, it seems that sex is the primary concern for all of you. I say you because my darlin daughter is 35 with a family of 3 kiddos of her own now and one of them is a precious 7yr old darlin daughter of her own.
    The most important piece of advice I have for all of you is : COMMUNICATE. that means listening as well as talking/telling. Write love notes with Q&A in them if you have to but communicate. Also, the one thing that I told my daughte when she was growing up that has stuck with her all these years and she has repeated to her friends in BSF who have laughingly related to me was this:
    I always hated when you told me that you prayed that if I did something wrong that I would get caught and held accountable for my actions.
    Actually I prayed for their protection, wise choices, and all the above. but that's the part that's stuck with her. lol.
    There will be things she will ask, things she will tell you and things that will make your mouth hang open and your eyes bug out... but ladies use the super glue, keep calm until you have all the facts and please- don't jump to conclusions. I'm a nurse and all of my kiddos knew the anatomy of things way before their friends did, and they knew all the proper names of everyone's anatomy- which highly offended some of my neighbors at the time when one of my children used the correct term for that portion of his anatomy at her home-"we don't use words like that" I was told...
    ok, i'm ranting now... bottom line, keep talking, you don't have to reveal everything at once, and you won't be a hypocrite if you don't tell her some of the things you did- there's a time and place for everything (she may be 30 before you reveal some things). When appropriate you will know. and keep on your knees asking for wisdom, protection, and for the same for her.Ask her what she thinks about things in the social realm that you may see on tv, or she hears from her friends; use the Word as your instruction book- it's very good on all the subjects that scare us as mothers. In love as a survivor, N

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    1. I love this! The correct terms have always been big with us instead of the "others" that basically teach the kids (and myself when I was young) that biologically correct terms for reproductive parts are dirty.

      We've taken pride in the fact that our oldest, since he was 13, was the one who could tell his friends what *actually* happens, what something is, what it means, instead of all the misinformation that gets passed around. :)

      And the "she may be 30" part? I'm 34 and my mother is still picking and choosing about her past. However, she talks to me about her current sex life all the time. So, try not to traumatize your kids again when they're my age. Heehee

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    2. I always hated when you told me that you prayed that if I did something wrong that I would get caught and held accountable for my actions.

      OOOHHH I am stealing this and praying it out loud in front of my children!!! Great one!

      Nancy and Amy, thank you so much for your comments. Now I can see that this will definitely be a series of posts!

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  14. Your post is so VERY true...as are the responses. Fear should never be a factor and honesty must be!
    I have only "baby" girl will be 21 this coming January. (I have 3 sons and THANK the Lord the hubby knew exactly when to have the talk with them!) Because I grew up with such a dysfunctional view of sex and intimacy, I had no clue how to have THE talk. I was one that NEEDED a book to guide me :0). If left up to me it would probably cause more damage than good...she would walk away wondering what on earth birds have to do with bees and that dating can only lead to one thing! Sigh...talk about flawed!

    I found this amazing booklet in an equally amazing booklet series! This lovely home schooling mom had the same concerns as we do so she wrote her thoughts out in these booklets. What I love most about them is how she explains that:
    1. The changes in a young girl have zero to do with sex!
    2. The word marriage is used like a gazillion times throughout the series!
    3. The illustrations are pencil line and very age appropriate

    http://www.queenhomeschool.com/alphapage/alphaframe.html

    The best thing we can do as moms is be open and willing to answer the questions as they come up. My daughter says she really appreciates that I did not make a huge thing about it. For what it's worth, she think things like "purity" rings are simply ghastly and that father daughter dances than emphasize "purity" are psychologically damaging. I tend to agree...but I digress!

    I will share what NOT to do:
    If your 10 year old little girl comes to you and asks "Mom, what exactly is "sex"?" Do NOT answer "Well honey, sex is what you ARE...your sex is a girl, your brother sex is a boy." And then proceed not make eye contact and go on with whatever you were doing! That was what I did and I just KNEW she was wondering about something more. I BLEW it and that set a precedence of struggling communication that I had to work hard to have us both over come. Not long after that I found the book series above and it made it so easy to get the "facts" out and then opened the door to further communication!

    Hang in there ladies! The very fact that you are considering these unavoidable issues shows you are on the right track! Baby steps...slow and steady as she goes!

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    1. Donna thank you very much for your thoughts. I will check out those booklets. But I have to say, the changes in a young girl do have to do wtih sex... sexuality... but I would agree that the girls do not need to know ALL of the details right away, either! I love the focus on marriage, and I have also chosen to focus on the beauty of a woman's body and how it is made to 'grow a baby' as I talk with my daughters. Even if they don't (yet) know how the baby gets there, I think it is great for them to know what all their body changes are FOR!

      I definitely relate to the nerves and can see exactly how you could hide from the conversation like you did! So glad you hung in there after a rough start, and I am sure your daughter is as well!

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  16. Two things that were told to me that I found very helpful in raising the girls were the following:
    --Pay attention to their friends. If they are making good friends, then when they are in a situation, their friends will help them move in the right direction. Your strong willed child, tho' often difficult to raise, will not be afraid to say "no" to wrong behavior if so inclined. Peer pressure isn't a big temptation for them. It's the sweet, quiet child who is concerned about what their friends think that you need to watch out for.

    -- A child's weaknesses are an extreme of their strengths and vice versa. If you are having trouble figuring out one category, look at the other and go from there. That is how I came up with the liar/fiction idea as well as the drama/disruptive/academy award idea. It may not come to you in a moment, but as you pray and think about them, it will come to you.

    **Don't forget about the seriousness of the pharisee/self-righteous child. When you read the gospels, much of the negative comments from Jesus were to the pharisees--they were religious, did the right thing...to the extreme, and considered themselves to be good. They didn’t need Christ, or salvation. Be careful re treating your kids like the "good" one and the "bad" one. It is not good:( the "good" kid has sin issues just as the "bad" one has strengths. The daughter I refer to has an extremely generous heart and came up with all kinds of fun gift ideas at Christmas when she had very little to spend

    This is a topic i am passionate about. A final word: don't constantly go on about purity. I think there is a time when that topic can get overemphasized. You will be more likely to go on to extremes about it if you failed in this area. I have known girls that are so focused on it that when they went too far with a boy, he intimidated them into marrying them b/c of it.

    Purity is important, but not the only important thing that we must teach our daughters. GOD forgives sin as well. They shouldn't compound the mistake by marrying a horrible guy! We don't want them to think that a failure in this arena is an unpardonable sin.

    We taught our girls that no matter what happened, EVER, they could always come back to us. There was nothing they could do wrong that would keep us from loving them (just like the father in the Prodigal Son.) They knew that. They often stated it back to us. We were never tested in this particular area, but felt that if we were, like many friends, GOD would bring us all through. Teaching that GOD forgives, but we often have consequences from the sin that we have to live with, is good.

    We also taught them that they had to take consequences for their behavior...as preparation for life. Kevin Lehmann has some helpful books on this topic. He adds a lot of humor to this topic too so it doesn't have to be intense. Kids have to learn to remember their homework, etc. They can either use your system or one they develop. but you won't be taking their homework to school if they keep forgetting it, etc. Working (outside the home) moms don't have a choice...but often it is disruptive of other moms too...and doesn't help the child. They just need to see why it is good for their kids and not selfish on their part. His books were helpful to me...and our kids. I did't take every piece of them, but was helped by his viewpoint.

    Sorry to ramble on.

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    1. Not rambling at all... thank you so much for this!

      I definitely agree with you about the pharisee child (I was her!) and I very much appreciate your point about purity. It is important to talk about, but it can never replace the Gospel itself!

      Kids need to "take consequences for their behavior." Oh YES, I agree with this. I feel the temptation to rush in and rescue, or to save them even from the risk of making decisions and just decide for them- but this does not help them grow, learn to discern, learn to accept consequences and think ahead!

      Would you mind elaborating on this thought: liar/fiction idea as well as the drama/disruptive/academy award idea.

      I'll be blogging on this topic every tuesday- I hope you come back again and share your thoughts!

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  17. My girls are all but grown up and the thing I've learned is that if I won't TALK to them, they will TALK with their friends and most distressingly, they will LISTEN to their friends. And they will listen to the culture through music, videos and TV. We cannot wait or delay.
    Thank you for linking up with us at No Ordinary Blog Hop. We love your posts! Every blessing, Kelly

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    1. Thank you Kelly! Yes you are right; we must TALK! But now... what to say? That's the next question! And I'm afraid I'm just going to have to jump in before I know all the answers!!!

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  18. I loved this post. I have never read a post on this topic before, I have a teenage daughter and son. I can relate very well with you! It is so important to teach them now, at home, by us and not the outside world. I have always been open and honest with my children about their body parts and how things worked. When each one turned 13, they got the official talk. My daughter listened to a set of tapes on modesty, waiting to keep herself pure until marriage, ect. I can't think of the names of the tapes at the moment. I want my son to listen to them as well. It's just a great way to start conversations about so many important things they will face in life. Thank you for this wonderful post, and thanks for linking up at Legacy Leaver Thursdays! I hope you can join us again this Thursday.

    Blessings~
    Shari

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    1. Shari, I will be back! I love your blog and your link-ups!
      Blessings to you with your teenagers.. I'm told it doesn't necessarily get easier, just different. May God uphold us in all these changes!

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  19. Great idea here of this series....
    can my lil' J stay this almost two forever...blessed I can feel that at every bday, aren't we as parents...
    thanks for linking dear

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  20. I am in this area of life with our daughter and am glad to see I am not the only one with ALL of the feelings above! I am constantly praying for wisdom!! If I don't provide the answers, someone else will… This is a very tricky time! Thank you for sharing. I am visiting from the Above Rubies link up.

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