I wonder sometimes if it was the tomboy side of me that saved me from the awkward, young woman phase of wanting to be entirely pleasing to the opposite sex. Even during my middle school years, when I was more of an outcast and quiet . . even then, there was a big side of me that wasn't going to change just so boys would like me more.
On to high school, it was even more cemented for myself that I was not about to turn my life upside down to attract affection. I had other things to do. I think I wore a few outfits for the boyfriend my senior year, that I knew he liked. But that was about it. And I think I wore the outfits maybe like four or five times. The boyfriend and I actually had many fights because he thought we should be a certain way together; mostly involving myself being more compliant to what he deemed as our course of action. Sadly for him, I had my own opinions and my own voice, and I was using them. I guess he didn't mind too much after all, since he's in the living room right now ;)
But the point is that somehow, while growing up, my Mom and Mark, and some others around me, impressed upon me that being myself was always enough. That message is good for romantic relationships, and every other relationship a person will have.
So it has bothered me to no end when I heard some things about some teenage girls. At thirteen years old, one girl keeps her phone without a lock screen because her boyfriend won't allow it. He needs her phone unlocked so he knows that she isn't cheating on him. EXCUSE ME! My response was, if he doesn't trust her, why are they together? Why? Why? Why at 13 years old would a girl think so little of herself that she has to continually prove to her "boyfriend" that she is trustworthy? And why would a boy want to be with a "girlfriend" that he couldn't trust? And why would he think that he has any type of authority over what she does and does not do?
Another girl was talking at school about a couple that are dating. The conversation went something like, so you are going to hug, then kiss, then make-out, then have sex? Like that should be the way that a relationship should be? As if a relationship should be based and graded solely on the physical intimacy between two people? And at middle school age to believe this?
Now I could go on about how tv and movies and magazines paint a picture for kids that this is the way that it is. But that would be incomplete. There is a voice out there that the kids listen to more than the movies, and more than the tv, and more than the magazine. Parents, you may feel like they aren't listening. And they may roll their eyes and not want to listen. But if you talk, they will listen! A child needs to hear that their value is so much more than just physical, and that any relationship worth having should reflect that! They need to hear that the progression in a relationship, a real relationship, isn't based on what you do physically, but on trust and respect. Any person can become physically intimate. That really is no skill and no achievement. But building trust and caring with another person; that takes time and work - and that is an achievement.
And honestly, at 12 and 13 years old, that shouldn't even be a short-term goal!! I tell my daughter, and I hope she listens, that she needs to work on who she is and who she wants to be. This is the time to explore her interests. This is the time to work on her goals and her dreams. This is the time to simply relax and have fun! This is the time for herself. She does not answer to anyone (except her father and I).
I know crushes happen. I know this is normal. I remember having big crushes. We talk about having crushes on people. We talk about how love is something so much more different than a crush. And that the word love shouldn't be thrown around loosely because if you say it, the other person believes it. I tell her that she should never do anything that she'd be ashamed to tell her father and I about. Because it's true. At this age, she should be able to talk to us. Five years from now, she should be able to talk to us. Ten years from now, she should be able to talk to us. I will try and be reasonable. And I will try and be patient. And I will always be her biggest supporter that she is enough, just as she is. That goes for my other three that will soon be this age and going thru these things.
Tonight I am thankful for the opportunity to talk to my children and build them up. And I pray. I pray. And I pray some more. Because when I am not with them, God is always with them. And he knows better than I how to reach their hearts and how to guide them.