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Thoughts on My Baby Growing Up
This afternoon I'm heading out to The Miracle Channel headquarters in Lethbridge, Alberta, to tape a TV show, and then tonight I'm speaking at my last (of 9) Girls Night Out events in Alberta! It's been an amazing tour, and tons of fun, but it really is time to get home.

Anyway, one of the things that's been on my mind lately as we've been driving all over this province is just where my life is heading in the next few years--and my oldest daughter is a big part of that. She'll be leaving home in just two short years, and while I'm excited for her, I'm also a wee mite sad. But when I think about her future, my mind naturally turns to who she's going to marry.

My husband and I are very progressive, and we have decided to let her choose her own husband :) . Here's how it will work: when she's 21, we'll present her with a pool of 20 men, and she can choose from those! See? Isn't that a great idea?

We joke about this a lot in the house, but the truth is that all the guys that she is friends with now would definitely be on the list, as far as I'm concerned. She has a lot of male friends that she talks theology with, and life with, and intellectual stuff with. She seems to gravitate more towards guy friends than girl friends because they're more interested in talking about "stuff that matters" (in her opinion).

While I admire her desire to talk about "stuff that matters", though, I don't think she understands that the guys may actually be thinking about her in a different way. I asked the guys on my road crew this week if it's possible for a teenage guy to have a perfectly platonic relationship with a teenage girl, and the reply I got was, "Of course. If he's gay." Which is pretty much what I thought, too.

So when they were up visiting me last week here in Alberta I had a bit of a talk with her, and told her that I thought it was great she had such a wide circle of friends, but she had to be prepared that one of them was likely going to ask her out soon (it's kind of inevitable), and she had better be prepared about what to say (my preference would be, not now, let's see how things go when we're older). And then she said something rather curious. She said that she didn't think any of them ever would ask her out, because no good guy could ever like her.

Here's a girl who is pretty, who is smart, who is very fun (if I do say so myself), and she's grown up in an extremely secure family. She knows her dad loves her (and he's very affectionate with her). We talk all the time. And she's still insecure about this. It made me rather sad.

I was insecure as a teen, but I had reason to be. My dad had left, my stepfather had left, and I had rather lousy relationships with male role models. But she doesn't. And she still feels like no one good will ever pay her attention.

Why do teenage girls feel this way? What has our society done to them? Is it because she feels as if she'll never be pretty enough? Or she's just not popular enough? Objectively, looking at her, neither of these things could possibly be true, but since when does logic play a part in a teenage girl's emotions?

Now please understand: it is not that I want her to date now. On the contrary, I'd rather she wait until she's 18 or so and marriage is at least a little more possible on the horizon. I think dating at 16, even if it's the guy you're going to eventually marry, is silly, because you can't get married for quite a few years still, and that's a lot of temptation if you're really in love. But at the same time, I know that she'd like to feel that she is at least attractive to the opposite sex, and I don't know that she feels that.

Perhaps this is something that every teenage girl goes through, but it still makes me sad, because she is such a lovely girl in every sense of the word. I wish we females weren't so dependent on males for our self-esteem, but it seems as if that is an intrinsic part of our personality. And so now I am left still trying to convince my daughter that someone is, at some point soon, going to ask her out, and that she had better think about how she is going to handle it and be careful of the signals that she is throwing out there, when she doesn't think that anybody could possibly be interested.

What were you like as a teen? And do you see this in the teen girls you know? When I get home I think I'll take her out for a long dinner and I'll talk to her again about how much God loves her, and how much God has gifted her, and how other people will see that, too. But I do wish she could feel it already.

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At 12:46 PM , Blogger Annette said…

This has inspired me to want to take my daughter out to dinner for that kind of talk even if she is only 4! My husband has been instilling in her that she is special to God and her dad, that no boy can tell her otherwise. I think it is great as I was a teen once with emotions.

Annette Yanez


At 12:49 PM , Blogger Deborah said…

That's such a tough situation, for you and for her. I was painfully shy as a child and teenager, with a difficult family, so it's no surprise that I felt insecure with boys, too. I think it is pretty universal, at least within western society, for girls to feel that way. I don't know how to change it, but I hope the answer comes in time to help my currently 8-month-old daughter!


At 2:31 PM , Blogger Stacey said…

That's hard. I think I could say that I had a pretty similar story. But somehow, I ended up married at 19 anyway! Even now, I'm still insecure. Except now it's about girl friends.


At 3:17 PM , Blogger Herding Grasshoppers said…

You know, I'm not sure there's a teen in the world that's actually rational!

Yah, I'm joking... mostly. I mean, I pity them at that age. They're growing physically and mentally by leaps and bounds, but their hormones are CARBONATED and they're just not logical or realistic!

Girls seem to gravitate to extremes - either "I'm too s*xy..." (which is worse, by far) or the insecure end.

Given her faith and her family, I think she'll pull through just fine ;D



At 6:35 PM , Blogger Allyson said…

As a 19 year old, I definitely relate to your daughter. Not only did I have those thoughts when I was around her age a few years ago, but I still have them now. Society today seems to tell us young girls that we're never going to be good enough for that "special someone" to love us and that we always need to be fixing ourselves. I feel that way a lot--yes, the focus is quite a bit on the external, but it's also kind of on the internal (which many times take external appearances) as well. We can always be smarter; we can always give more of ourselves to others. We can always climb higher in the corporate world.

I heard this speaker last week at my college, and she used the analogy about how, when it comes to relationships, 1+1=1. One whole person who is grounded in Christ, who knows who they are, who is comfortable in their own skin + one person of the opposite gender who is like that = one healthy, functioning relationship. Our society also tells us to pretty much always be looking for that "one" for us or that we can do better than the "one" that we are currently with. But this speaker challenged us to focus on our "one" and become the women (it was a room of all girls) that God wants us to be.


At 1:44 AM , Blogger Sarah said…

With a 12 year old daughter, I am a huge fan of arranged marriages, so I like your approach with an option out of twenty that seems like a fair compromise.
I hope that through her insecurity that "special someone" God has for her will hold the key to unlocking that part of her that no one else can.
I saw you in Lethrbidge tonight, and really enjoyed your show. I'm the mother of five who really didn't need to win the "romance package!" lol
I had a great night and feel encouraged to make it another day in my heap of laundry.
Sarah Ball


At 11:10 AM , Blogger Renee said…

She may feel that way because no one is sending her "signals" that they like her. Based on my own experience, the "good" guys are usually smart enough to hold off until they're a bit older, but you have to watch out for the "other" guys, because they can be tempting to a girl who thinks she's just not attractive to the "good" guys.


At 2:53 PM , Blogger Susie said…

I grew up in a Christian home with a wonderful, affectionate father (like your daughter) and I still had my share of insecurities. I think I just needed to outgrow them.
I remember being on the phone with my Mom when I was in college, probably lamenting that I didn't have any boys knocking down my door, and my Mom assured me that she just KNEW I was going to get married, that she knew God had designed me to be a mother, it was just too obvious.
Now, of course, she could have been wrong, but it turned out she wasn't, and I remember how much better I felt after that conversation- just knowing my Mom was sure someone was out there for me and that I should be a Mom. :)

This kind of insecurity reminds me of when you have your first baby and they are being difficult. you think: sure, all the other babies in the world someday sleep through the night, but what if mine never does???

Another big turning point for me- also in college- was when I decided that I was worth being pursued. That if guys didn't bother to pursue me, well, then they weren't ever going to value me, so I wasn't going to lose any sleep over them! I hadn't done a lot of my own pursuing, but somehow this boosted my confidence and reminded me of my worth in Christ, and God's design.
I have 3 daughters: 13, 16, and 18. They've all heard the 'worth being pursued' story many times! None of them have had boyfriends yet, although I imagine my oldest will soon.
sorry this got so long!!


At 4:21 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

When I was a teenager I felt the way your daughter does because most of my friends either had boyfriends or a bunch of guys following them around like puppy dogs, but no one ever noticed me or flirted with me. Once I got a little older, all of a sudden there were three different guys after me, one of which I ended up marrying. When I was a teenager I was always so preoccupied with getting guys to like me, wondering if a particular guy would ask me out, etc. And I felt insecure and uncomfortable in my own skin, probably because I was always trying to change myself to be attractive to guys. Once I finally accepted who I am and had confidence in God (not myself) things changed. I remember for the first time feeling like I was actually enjoying being single and didn't mind if I continued to be single for a while -- and right around that time my husband appeared!


At 8:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

It is good to hear this. My eldest daughter is nearly 12. Some mum's, like yourself, seem to know just how to talk to their children. I really struggle with this. Thank you for sharing.


At 4:40 PM , Anonymous Eve said…

I had a good giggle re 'letting her choose' her own husband. You *are* a progressive family. I've been planning on building a tower for when my kids hit their teens and I won't allow any of this long hair business. Look what happened with Repunzel! :) I've already told my kids that when I unlock the tower on their 30th birthdays, they get to meet their future spouse, get their driver's license and, in my son's case, those drums he's wanted for years.

Teens are awkward (generally) - boys and girls. I started my gawky stage when I was around 7 - think I'm finally growing out of it now though... I'm in my 30s. My husband felt unattractive and awkward until his late 20s!

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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