Chastity and the Teen Girl
Some time ago, Jennifer Fitz asked LarryD from Acts of the Apostasy all about chastity and teenage boys:
He got the bright idea that I might like to write a companion piece about girls, and he was right! I would like to write the companion piece, so thanks for thinking of me!So here’s a two-part question I still need you guys to answer for me:
- How should a boy deal with the, shall we say, overwhelming physical urges, that are known to afflict young men?
- And how does a mother, or father, provide these bits of practical advice without making the boy die from embarrassment?The going advice in popular culture is not so helpful, since it tends to run exactly counter to CCC 2352 and 2396.
Having once been a teenage girl (with a past I'm not always so proud of) and now being the mother of a teenage girl, I have a slight amount of experience in this area. There are the things I tell/show my own daughter, and the things I desperately wish my parents had told/shown to me.
A lot of folks seem to have the idea that girls are all kinds of crazy emotion looking for an outlet, or that they must be purely sexual instinct looking for a place to happen, which means that we as parents must learn to contain one and reign in the other. Which isn't to say that the over the top emotions or biological drives don't exist, (Believe me, they do!) but there is a tendency when we discuss teenage girls to forget about their brains. These are young women with intellects! Okay, those intellects are often driven by emotions and biology, but that's okay. You can work with that.
Let's start at the very beginning.....what is chastity? It means your mind is clean, your heart is pure, and your clothes are ON! It's a fruit of the Holy Spirit...that doesn't mean you have to be a be a person of Faith to be chaste, but it sure does make it a whole lot easier.
Talking chastity with your daughter should begin when she is very young. It is easiest if you lay the foundation there. I don't mean that you need to be having frank discussions about sex with your preschooler. Heavens no! But it is when she is a little, little girl that she needs to learn she can trust you. If you don't earn her trust in the very beginning, you can regain it, it just takes a lot more work, and a lot more proving yourself to her.
I'm not a fan of mothers being best friends with their children. Moms need to be the grown up authority figure, and girls need someone else to whom they can speak when mom drives them crazy, which doesn't mean that you can't have a friendly relationship. In fact, it's the kind I highly recommend. You didn't have that child so that you could fight all the time did you? (If you did, you might need a little help. Sorry, but who goes looking for trouble?) You had this child with the dream of a future of fun, laughter, and family. Are you working to create that culture in your home? Here's a way to tell....when your child needs someone to be "Dear Abby" for her, and we all need that advice person in our lives, are you the person she comes to? Are you her confidante? If not, is there a reason for that? Is there something you can do to correct that? If you don't know where to begin to fix it, ask her! What good is a teenage girl if not for her brutal honesty?
In addition to trust, you have to tell your daughter what you expect of her and not be vague about it. Which means, of course, that you have to know what you think about chastity, dating, and boys....not the ever threatened "no dating until you're 35!" but a realistic and honest idea of what her parents consider to be appropriate. She's also going to need an explanation why those are the rules. It's so tempting to assert our authority and draw lines in the sand, but girls need the why. Without an explanation, you're just restraining her actions and not teaching her anything. Children will rise to the level of your expectations for them if they know they don't have to attempt that climb on their own, so let her know you'll be right beside her as her help and counsel for as long as she needs you. (And she'll need you at least until she heads off to college.)
Ours knows that her father and I don't approve of dating in high school. She can have guy friends and even boys she likes, but one on one dating? No way. Her parents are members of the first generation ever to date for fun, and it was a disaster for most of the people we knew. Even the best kids fell victim to the temptations set before them, because 16 really isn't that old (and the 12 year olds who are dating nowadays? That's just crazy!) We trust her, and she trusts herself, but we've all agreed not to tempt her beyond her power to resist. The crazy thing is that once we explained the why to her, and let her take a look around at the unhappiness of her dating friends (who seem to be experiencing a new heartbreak every week) she agreed with us.
Moms need to talk to their daughters from the truth of their own experiences. That doesn't mean you have to share the gory details, but she's definitely entitled to the lessons you learned along the way. We talk about boys, my daughter and I. We discuss the annoying boys who try to hold her hand or constantly text her even when she has no interest in them (and has told them so!), and we talk about the boy she wishes would hold her hand but doesn't because they've decided it's best to just be friends for now. I've taken one look at the new boy down the street and told her exactly why she should run away from his bad-boy grin...because oh my does he have that down pat. I've told her how to spot a boy who respects her, and that boys who don't listen when she says she doesn't date aren't going to listen when she tells them she doesn't do other things either.
Most girls who sleep around do so to feel loved. It's amazing what girls and even women will do to have someone hold them close and say "I love you." That's why we make sure to tell her that we do. Often. Be sure to hug your daughter and tell her you love her, because if you don't then some yucky boy sure will. That was one of the biggest lessons I learned as a wayward teen. Her parents need to make her feel safe and cherished, or she will go looking for the illusion of love and safety. Girls need to be loved. They need to see it. They need to hear it. There is no such thing as saying it too often.
So, tell her the truth of it all. You don't want her to be chaste for you, you want it for her. Chastity is a gift straight from God. It protects the heart, safeguards the mind, and shelters the soul. The world will entice her to itself with promises of excitement and romance, but tell her about the sorrow and regret which follow on their heels. Tell her about biology and the chemical reactions sex causes in the brain. Tell her about the emotional train wreck that comes along with "just foolin' around." Tell her all she stands to lose if she loses her head.
And then tell her the truth about love and joy. Be honest with her about the beauty of sex when it's right. Tell her of the rapturous beauty of the marital embrace. Give her the hope and knowledge that her patience and self control will one day pay off for her, and that the hard work will be worth it.
Then pray with her and for her. We pray for her strength and for the man she will someday marry. (Unless she goes to the convent...which her daddy wouldn't mind at all.) I want her to know that he's out there, and that he needs her prayers even now....because he's fighting the same battle she is, and he can use all the prayers he can get.
Now head on over to LarryD's and see what he has to say about the boys!