Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Physical Beauty

I have been blessed with three beautiful daughters. I am simply in love with the attributes that are unique to each of them: Kellie-Laine's muscular figure, Landrie's sparkling eyes and fair color, Emerie's dimples and round face. Of course, ultimately I pray for beauty that comes from within: a heart of compassion, mercy towards others, pursuit of God, humility, boldness of spirit, strong moral compass, etc.

But today my post focuses on physical beauty. Primarily, the physical beauty of my almost-thirteen year old. Here she is:

I know that in the depths of our mother's heart, we ever-so-slightly desire for our kids to be pretty (or handsome). It's a truth that isn't easily admitted. It's also a truth that is at the bottom of a long list of things we wish for our kids. Nevertheless, beauty is on the list.

But just yesterday, I found out that beauty can have its drawbacks.

This week is Youth Week at our church....a week filled with daily activities and a time to welcome the incoming 7th graders, which includes Kellie-Laine. I was so excited the week before thinking about how fun this new phase of her life will be. I have some fond memories myself of youth groups and youth camps, and since I didn't grow up in a christian home, these groups and camps were a significant part of my spiritual journey towards a relationship with Christ.

So Monday morning was the youth paintball tournament, and I woke up and found myself struck with fear. I was worried on so many levels, but the main fear was that I was sending my first-born child into a group of 7th through 12th graders....girls AND guys.

Let me back up and explain for a moment that up until this point, we've had Kellie-Laine in a pretty tight bubble. She attends a small,private school with peers she's known since Kindergarten. While the normal guy/girl relationships have increased as the kids get older (I'm talking, like, one couple in 8th grade--out of the whole school), it's still a very immature process. These guys feel like brothers to the girls, so there really isn't much "coupling" as I like to call it. Aside from summer camp, Kellie-Laine doesn't have much interaction with those of the opposite sex. She doesn't IM; she doesn't own a cell phone; she doesn't have email. The one short-lived "relationship" she had at the beginning of last year consisted of nothing more than a few hand-written notes and lots of ignorning each other in the hallway. Nothing says "I really like you," than being ignored, right? As soon as the relationship started.....it ended, and you best believe that mommy and daddy were VERY involved in the "relationship".....(I shudder to even call it that.)

So, back to paintballing.......after I picked her up, she reported that she didn't like paintball all that much, but did spend a good deal of time talking about a boy and a few of his friends who were trying to convince her to "go out" with the aforementioned boy. Are you kidding me? I tried to listen with an open mind, but I kept thinking how weird this feels to listen to my little girls talk about these boys crushing on her?....macking on her? What do you call it these days?!

I know it was innocent, and I know this is totally normal behavior for this age. I don't want to sound like a crazy momma....but I called our precious youth minister to get his opinion, and he was very kind and patient with my crazy ramblings. (I'm certain, however, we will not be invited to future youth activities.)

So I know I'm kind of rambling about this, and my sister thinks I'm completely naive....but I need to ask you readers a question. Please give me some feedback here. As I'm approaching this new territory with my almost-thirteen year old.....what kind of advice/rules/guidelines/boundaries did your parents give you regarding dating? What worked and what didnt'? For you mothers who have gone before me: what advice can you give me that you currently use with your own children?

I had very lenient parents who didn't impose many rules on my sister or me, and I've got numerous mistakes to prove it. While many of the trials I went through as a teenager proved to become character building opportunities, I do not plan on using their same leniency with my own girls. Times have changed, and I adamantly feel parents need to be more involved now than ever before.

So I'm asking you all for some mom-to-mom advice on what worked or didn't work in your own lives or in the lives of your kids.

I'll be twiddling my thumbs in the meantime waiting for my beautiful daughter to return from the youth group bowling party.....


Regi S. said...

I'm in the teen boat with a 14 year old boy. It's easy to keep an eye on things now but soon.....I try to remember that the later teen years are the fruits of our hard labor. If they're on the right road then, sure, trouble can happen but isn't that true for adults too? They'll come out of it OK. If they're not on the right road then it's all about containment until they're old enough to reason again.Like a zoo @@ She's BEAUTIFUL ! Let's hope she's picky :X

Amy D. said...

You are a wise woman and a good mother, Angela. As you know, I only have two preschoolers, so my thoughts come from guidelines set by my mom, and things I've learned since the dating years through reading and hearing about others dating experiences. Since my sister and I started school, somehow and someway we always knew we wouldn't be allowed to date until we were 16. (It was really okay with me because boys have always made me nervous.) Teach her about emotional purity (something I didn't know existed until I was already married). Don't feel pressured to allow KL to gather with the youth every single time they meet. I, too, would be nervous if my almost-13-year-old was hanging out with 16, 17, and 18-year-olds on a frequent basis. You can pick and choose, and you can get involved as much as your time allows. (even if she gets embarrassed!) Also, always always make sure you are available for her to talk about anything with you! Listen without feeling like you always have to give advice. (you may already do this) My mom didn't know to do this and I feel sure it would have helped me make some better decisions than I did. I have 1,000 more opinions on this very subject, but I'm sure I've exceeded my word limit! I will be praying for you. You can count on it.

Amy D. said...

Did I win the award for the longest comment posted ever? I just wanted to mention a couple of resources: joshharris.com and emotionalpurity.blogspot.com (read her favorite posts on emotional purity and integrity).

Rose C said...

I will be lurking for advice. All I know so far is:
No designer jeans
and no cologne

Five Musgraves at Ten Oaks said...

The teen years can certainly be challenging, depending on the temperament of each child as well as the church/school customs in your circle of influence. It's hard to live in this world and yet be set apart as believers! The best advice I have at the moment is (1) to stay involved: you might want to teach or volunteer in the youth group! Next, (2) emphasize doing things in groups. Not that she's asking to date, but there is safety in #s. (3) Talk about how "birds of a feather flock together." That is a conversation that can take place off and on for literally, years! (4) We have always gone on most trips and thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the camp, trip, etc... with each child. We had a very conservative church, but were often times surprised to find out what went on in some other people's homes, i.e. alcohol, movies, language, music, etc.... (5) I really wanted to know the people that our boys spent time with! Not to be over-protective, but to be "wise as serpents, innocent as doves." (6) It's good to talk about what is appropriate in conversations and perhaps a little of what isn't. Oh, (7) there's a great study on purity. I'll find it and get back to you. It's great to do around KL's age. And btw, (8) I'd hold off on allowing fb, email, etc... as l-o-n-g as possible! It's a whole other can of worms! Remember: what's right for someone else, may not be right for your family and vv. We just have to pray for wisdom and discernment and study the Scripture as we strive to be Holy Spirit-filled "moms-at-home!" May the Lord Bless you my new friend :)

SuperMom said...

Thank you, girls, for some really applicable advice so far. Amy: you are wise beyond your years, and I will definitely be researching emotional purity--sounds like a wonderful concept. Rose: no designer jeans and no cologne.....is this for the guys or gals?
Beth: I am so glad you are helping create a generation of young men who will love the lord and respect women. I wish more moms of boys would do this!

Amy said...

From the time that my kids were little bitty I would joke with them (in all seriousness) that they - or their friends - were too young to think about getting married if they mentioned that they - or their friends - liked a girl/ boy. I've done this intentionally to put the idea in their heads and hearts that the reason that we have "boyfriends/ girlfriends" is for the purpose of finding a future husband/ wife... not just for entertainment. Also, in talking about purity... what to wear, look at, watch, etc... I have always told them that they will get to wear things, look at things, do things "like that" someday with their spouse and that it will be fun, but for now, they need to save their hearts.

My oldest is almost 12, so we have not actually crossed the bridge of her wanting a boyfriend - and I am not sure if I would forbid it or just encourage her not to, if she did - but I am hoping that by laying the foundation that "our hearts are only meant to be given to our husband/ wife" I will not have to make that call... at least any time soon.

Good luck!

autumnesf said...

I am so with you!! Since C has not been so sheltered and was in public school we have actually had to battle the "boyfriend" thing since KINDERGARTEN. Nuts! But, in our house we said no dating until they were ready to look for a mate for life with our son. Didn't work. What did? Once he started breaking the no girlfriend rule we said, Ok, so this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with? Well we better get to know her. And then it was inviting the girl over for dinner and allowing them to hang out in the yard or anywhere with an open door. The girl got tired of it real quick and found an easier boyfriend that didn't have parents involved. We didn't allow movies or actual "dates" (and she was 14 and he was only 15 at that time).

For C we have explained that the purpose of dating is to get to know the person you are going to marry. It's not a casual thing. Every failed relationship leaves heart scars and we don't want her to marry a man with a heart full of scar tissue - so casual dating is out. So far its been fine. But we will see in 2 years.

Also, when my son got serious I read a book called "Best Friends For Life - An extraordinary new approach to dating, courtship and marriage for parents and their teens. It was helpful on getting some insight to help explain why dating can be harmful (beyond the obvious). I still have that if you would like to borrow it. (It has some out there stuff in it to that I ignored.)

Good luck friend! KL is so beautiful that I'm sure you and your husband will have more than your fair share of "deer-in-headlights moments!

Regi S. said...

SuperMom said...
Thank you for your words of wisdom.
I, too, hope she's picky!

July 22, 2008 8:17 PM

You are so sweet ! and have a wicked sense of humor, you and your girls will do just fine. The emotional purity stuff was interesting but I don't believe you can lose pieces of your heart, I think heartbreak can make you stronger and appreciate real love even more :) But then again I've been told I have no shame ;)

Rose C said...

Yeah, sorry.. I meant guys. I have no idea about girls.

Mommyof2 said...

I may need your words when Abbie hits that age, but one thing my parents did, and I know was successful was setting boundaries beforehand. That way, in any given situation, I knew the answer. I still got mad and frustrated,but I knew the rule was not personal, it was the rule. As far as ages, I could double at 15 and date at 16. My parents did limit me from going out on a date both nights of the weekend, which I appreciated. It kept me from ever isolating myself from my girlfriends.
Another thought is do not presuppose yourself in your children. It can be a self- fulfilling prophesy. Does that make sense? Your daughter does not think and feel the exact same way you did at her age. Good luck!

Kylie said...

Of course I only have two tiny ones am very nervous about the pre-teen and teenage years... I'm looking to you for help when I get there! However, we are with teenagers A LOT as you know :) It seems the ones who have parents who ask questions, who are involved in everything (we do welcome that!), who love their kids and spend lots of good time with them, really don't look for attention elsewhere as much as those who don't have these kinds of parents. Meaning, what you are doing already, is wonderful. Filling her with a good sense of who she is in Christ, of how beautiful she already is. The book "Do You Think I'm Beautiful" stresses this point a lot- once a girl (or boy I guess!) feels beautiful and loved, the other things (the things we're afraid of them doing!) just aren't that appealing because their self worth is higher than that. More than a list of rules, it's an attitude. Rules are good, too, don't get me wrong! I do know that I stayed out of a lot of trouble in high school because my parents were everywhere. I hated it at the time but am SO grateful to them now.
Last thing, one of the many points to a church youth group is to be a safe alternative to keep kids out of trouble- To keep groups of godly people around because it's easier to make good decisions when the people around you are also making good decisions. If it's not being that, then let us hear about it!

Amy D. said...

Am I allowed to leave a comment to one of your "commenters"? Ahhhh, Kylie, you've really set my mind more at ease. Thank you!

Juli said...

Ang, you are doing such a great job raising KL, she's so beautiful and has such class and grace that I know that she's going to do just great in life. Of course, she gets it from her mother ;) I love watching her grow up, as well as the other two beauties you have!

CA Girl in 10-OC said...

I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16. A welcomed excuse to pass on an invite from some boys and a source of contention with others. My son is 15 and hasn't even mentioned the date thing yet. Maybe next year when he gets a car. I'll only ask that he date girls 16 and up I guess!

Rose C said...

Kylie I love what you said!

Ang, I am loving the book. I just started and I am dying to know what happened to Sophie.

Anonymous said...

Focus on character. Smile at her often. Be approachable. Encourage Cody to have date nights with Kellie. Pray for her inner confidence daily. Be a fun mom where she feels comfortable talking about boys (how else will you know what's going on). That means not being critical every time she talks about boys.Strive EVERY day to keep an open, honest relationship with her. Never give her the silent treatment. Know all of her friends and their parents. Ask lots of questions. Give positive feedback any chance you can. Resist the urge to control and instead TRUST IN GOD to keep Kellie protected.

Remember, you ARE a fabulous mother. IF God is on our side, whom shall we fear?

Love ya! Claire M

SpinelliClan said...

Wow Angela. This is exactly what I am 'suffering' through right now. Here is what I have learned about my daughter. She is exquistly self-assured and confident. Throughout 7th and 8th grade, I did not have a hard time with her at all, as far as her stepping outside of the boundries, to try to 'fit in'. Alex carried herself through the last two years with so much self-assurance that it blew me away. And I give GOD all the glory. From the day that child could walk, I kept her surrounded with people who love the Lord. She grew to absolutely love Sunday School, by the time she was six years old. Today, her youth group is a 'safe haven'...outside of the insane public school system, which she has also grown up in. I struggled so much with the exact same emotions, fears, and anxieties. And everyday I was reminded to turn it over to HIM. Because Alex is HIS...HIS special creation, HIS unique design. Every single day, to this day, I pray for her. I have seen God work in and through her. I have had so many people tell me that Alex is like 'an old soul'....and she is. Maybe it is just from being an only child or maybe it is from all the prayers I sent up HIS way....I don't really know for sure. I can say that she loves Christ with all of her heart and that makes me happy. If that is the center of your daughter's life, then you can take comfort in knowing that she is in the best hands possible. I still have a VERY long road ahead...as Alex is starting high school at a public school that is excellent, as far as academics, but also has a huge problem with drugs and sex issues. Choices in and around Tyler are slim though, unless you go Private. And some of the kids at the Private schools here have quite the reputation also! Nevertheless, we march forward. Just in the last two months I have had several issues come up with Alex...boyfriends, makeup, ect. And I just get on my knees and ask for wisdom, grace, and love while parenting her in the best way I can. That is where my hope lies, and I try to show that to Alex and encourage her to cast her cares upon HIM, as well. Daily. I don't mean to sound like she is perfect, by any means. We have DEFINITELY had our 'ups' and then our 'downs'...but all in all, I have been satisfied to see how she is handling things so far. We are doing okay. I believe the last thing I said to Alex, when she was arguing with me about some secular issues and why we have the rules we do was this...."it boils down to this Alex...either you will choose to live by the law of the World or you will choose to live by the law of God, but most importantly, by His Grace. You have to choose, in every decision. You can't live, straddling the fence. God will always give you an "out" in a situation that makes you uncomfortable...but you have to SEEK it and PRAY for it and then TRUST HIM when you CHOOSE HIM." She was quiet and thought on it a long while.

I will pray for you during this time, as I hope you will for Alex and I. (Oh and I think won for the longest comment on here! haha!)