Traveling in the car with my girls can be quite the adventure. I never know what’s going to come out of their mouths. I hear about the latest drama around who likes who. I hear about their teachers and laugh as they tell about lame jokes and hilarious stories. I listen as they complain about the “surprise” quiz (also known as I didn’t listen when he said we’d have a quiz on Monday…so I didn’t study) and the amount of homework they have. I am FORCED…forced I tell you…to listen to Adele which means they are FORCED to listen to me mock her. Our relationship has moved from the days when “Because I said so.” was usually enough to change the conversation. Now the conversations are a little more intense. The questions harder. And my answers making all of us squirm. This is what parenting teen girls is like.
So, the youngest gets in the car today. And she tells me how her teacher made her and her friend mad but they didn’t say anything. I have learned this is usually the forerunner of one of those “Please let me out of the car” conversations. She told me that if I didn’t get mad she’d tell me. (My head is screaming WARNING!) I tell her of course I won’t be mad. So she looks at me and says, “My teacher said that what we wear makes a boy sin.” I just drive and am silent. She continues. “I think that’s wrong. I wanted to tell her that I can’t make anyone sin.”
So, I calmly reply, “Honey, that’s just her opinion.” And before she can plead stop, I begin to talk to her about sin and lust and boys and their eyes. And we end up in one of those conversations where the youngest is trying to figure out how fast she can jump at 35mph. The oldest is asking questions that are making ME wonder how fast I can jump at 35mph. And mercifully we arrive home. It’s amazing how fast they left the car. I call the husband and ask him to tell me how to explain boys and lust and how they look at girls. And he’s trying to figure out how he ended up here. And I lay down on my bed…and laugh. Because I don’t know what else to do.
A few hours later and I’m still chuckling, but the question is bugging me. Why is it that we tell girls they make boys sin? Why is it we are still blaming women for men’s problems? Why is it that the story in the garden, when Adam blamed Eve, is still the Christian formula for addressing the issue of teenagers and their hormones and sex and relationships? Isn’t there a better way?
I told the girls about a man who made a comment in regards to the attractive way I was dressed and looked…to my husband. (Which he of course took as a HUGE compliment…because you know, it’s all about him.) I asked them, “Did I make him sin?” After all, he’s married. I’m married. And he looked at me and liked what he saw. Did he sin? Did I sin? And in the insanity of this conversation I realized that *I* need to understand what IS sin and what is not before I can even begin to help them understand.
I grew up with the weight of men’s souls on my shoulder. I blogged about it before. I’ve had to learn that I’m not responsible for what goes on in the mind of a man. I am CERTAINLY not responsible for what he DOES after what goes on in his head. I’ve fought to keep my daughters away from any teaching that would deduct their worth to their bodies and what they do to a boy. I’ve struggled to balance their need to express their own sense of style, their beauty and creativity with the needs of those around them who view that as a threat. I’ve tried to teach them respect for other’s views while not accepting the weight of those views as their own. I anticipated this day would arrive and so it did.
I’m showing progress. I didn’t default to making this all about my issues nor did I make it another occasion to rant about what is wrong with the purity teachings. Instead I chose to tell my girls what I’ve learned to be true about being a woman.That beauty comes from who they are, not what their body looks like. That modesty is more about what is inside their hearts and way less about the length of their skirt or the the width of their shoulder strap. That purity is something that they can treasure and has zero to do with holding hands…kissing…or virginity. That their own momma, shamed by sexual abuse and premature sex, feels absolutely PURE today. That it’s ok the boy next to them sees how cute their freckles are or how beautiful their hair falls down their back or even how amazingly curvy they are…because Abba made them that way.
I want them to know how to make wise decisions and not feel pressured to compromise their dignity and their value. I want them to learn that they don’t have to give love just because he says “they are beautiful” or “I love you” or “I need you.” I want them to arrive to the day where they find the one they love and they enter that relationship fully confident in who they are. That when they find “The One” it will be because they are ready for love and sex and marriage…not because they need a man to feel complete.
I realize that on the other side is a mom with that teenage boy who is struggling. I feel for her. It’s not easy having these difficult discussions. It’s hard to tell them, “Look, I know this is confusing and difficult. I know it would be easy to take the easy way out and just make the girls fugly and frumpy and nasty so you don’t have to grow up and move beyond this.” I’ve had those crazy late-at-night, how’d I get this job conversations with my teenage boy. I’ve had to talk about things that make my head spin and my stomach churl. It’s not easy, but I did it. Because I could not in good conscious raise my son to believe that his sexuality was a sin problem.
So, I continue parenting by the seat of my pants. I listen when they speak and answer when they ask and just pray I somehow survive parenting teenage girls with a good sense of humor in tact.
And that was my day…how was yours?