This past weekend was the high school winter formal for my high school daughters. Some things haven’t changed since I was a teenager. It’s still all the talk about what kind of dress you will wear? Who is going with who? And how will you style your hair? What has changed is “up-dos.” They are not a thing anymore. Going to the dance without a date is fine. And instead of dinner before, it’s pictures. Finding an aesthetically pleasing location with vibe and meeting up before for a photo shoot, takes the place of the local photo studio photographer snapping pics in front of a back drop posed so delightfully with the girl’s hand loosely positioned on the boy’s lapel at the school gym. I think we can thank Instagram for that. Balloon arch décor has resurrected from the late 80’s and early 90’s which makes going to my winter formal feel even more like it was yesterday, and a flood of emotions attached to memories washed over me as my girls prepared for their big night. It also reminded me of what goes on beyond the prep for the dance and the stuff that happens at the dance and after. This compelled me to talk straight to my teens.
I will confess I am recovering from hovering. The decisions my husband and I have made as parents would be categorized by some as over-protective and by some as wise. I think we all are doing the best we can with what we’ve got. We’ve been a hard no on sleepovers. We’ve been restrictive with social media usage. And went as far as to screen who gave our kids rides. Maybe you read this and say, “woah!” Or maybe you wish you had, too. But the reality is, in two years my high school girls will be living in a dorm room with strangers, likely in another state. So it's time to release some leash. I’ve been letting go loosely over the past two years, but something about sixteen and a sophomore had me challenged to have a harder conversation with one my of my girls. The kind of straight talk that would empower her to make decisions from a place of full knowledge and not be caught off guard or blindsided.
And so I asked the Lord to help me be His mouthpiece to my daughter and use my words in the right timing.
“For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6
A couple days before the big night she needed a couple things from Ulta Beauty. I felt the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit encourage me to just open my mouth. I believe in open communication with my kids. We value honesty. But the level of candor I was about to speak would be next level for me. And I had no idea how my precious daughter would receive.
I confessed my fears and owned my protective nature. I conveyed my trust in her, my pride in her innocence. I admitted my desire to control outcomes in her life. And then I acknowledged that was not possible nor is it my place as she comes of age, that she needs to begin to have authority in making decisions.
“I want to warn you about three things before you go to the dance this weekend.”
1. Don’t do something stupid on snap chat.
This was not something my mom warned me about. It didn’t even exist. So when we decided to “moon” the car next to us on the freeway, the whole world wouldn’t have access to our hind ends. At the very most, a small circle of friends would hear about it at school on Monday if we chose to tell. But now, you do something stupid, it’s not between you and your four friends, but it’s broadcast on the internet to 4000 of them. So don’t do something stupid on snapchat. And as much as you would like to think it vanishes in less than a few hours, it doesn’t. What’s published there can be captured again, and it can cause damage and a lot of harm.
2. Sexually experimenting is real and you do not have to participate.
Whether it’s the same sex or the opposite sex, respect yourself and guard your body. This goes back to honestly educating my kids on things that could occur. I don’t want them to be blindsided or caught off guard. If they are aware, then they can trust their gut and be prepared to make a good, assertive decision. Sexual assaults and offense against our bodies make lasting impacts. While I do not want her to live afraid, I do want her to stand in authority over her innocence and her body.
3. No matter what, I’m your 3:00 AM call.
This is when I shared a few of the choices I had made in high school. This is where vulnerability for deeper connection occurred. This is the moment I wanted her to understand there were no conditions on my love or my rescue if she found herself in a precarious situation. This is the moment I conveyed my trust in her and a little more of the leash was released. And this is then I empowered her to listen to her body. And it's okay to RUN!
So, how was the dance? How did it go? She had blisters on her feet from tearing up the dance floor. She showed me all the video and some of the photos of her sweet sister in the center of it all. She took a Sunday nap from staying up late playing board games after with her girl friends. And she had so much fun she said she wished she could do it all over again.
My daughter told me about the conversations among her squad that night. It’s private. I won’t share here. But I want you to know…
There is a generation rising who are kind and inclusive.
There is a generation that can have fun without their phones.
There is a generation of kids who want to make good choices and live lives of integrity.
There is a generation of kids who still play and work hard to create a future for themselves.
There is a generation who will listen when they are also listened to.