by Melisa Gaines
It all started when putting my (then) eight year old daughter to bed one night. I noticed a musty smell coming from her armpit. I couldn’t remember when I started wearing deodorant myself, but my daughter seemed too young for this. After all, wasn’t I just spoon feeding her smushed up bananas yesterday!?! Around that time, she also started asking when she could start shaving her legs, wearing a bra, and dating boys. This all came a little sooner than expected for me.
I wasn’t thrilled about the words and ideas she was learning at school and encouraged her to come to me for the definitions of all these “mature” conversations. Feeling like I needed some wisdom, and because I enjoy learning through reading, I read a few books on the topic that I would highly recommend. The first book I read was On Becoming Preteen Wise, and I devoured it within a couple of days. In it the author states,
Once your daughter begins to blossom into womanhood, she needs a good friend more than anything. In fact, the definition of a friend will shift from someone to play with to someone to talk to and share life with. Moms need to be such friends to their children. Talk. Spend special quiet time sharing ideas. Build now that bridge of trust.
This year, as a nine year old in the fourth grade, I could tell this whole growing up thing was kicking in to fast gear. The pressure from peers to grow up fast, especially in her relationships with boys, was taking the childlike joy away from my little girl and I didn’t like it. The next book I got my hands on was Six Ways To Keep The “Little” In Your Girl, by Dannah Gresh. She says,
“Value formation—concerning purity, family structure, sobriety, and other all-too-common teen issues—does not occur during the teen years. The values are formed from the ages of 8 to 12. Many parents do not realize this and inadvertently allow the culture to speak loudly as they remain mute, planning to deal with these uncomfortable issues “later.” In the meantime, their daughters are pressured to skip being “little” girls and act like they’re teenagers.”
Her father and I discussed some family rules we were going to set for our children in regards to their relationships with the opposite sex, and it has really taken a lot of pressure off of our daughter. She has the freedom to stay young a little longer and she’s enjoying it! In 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter, Vicki Courtney encourages moms with this advice:
“You are the great and mighty gatekeeper when it comes to providing your daughter with a much-needed umbrella of protection. In other words, you have the power to say “yes,” “no,” or “wait” when these influences come knocking. If you haven’t set parameters in advance, it won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. If I had to pinpoint one common denominator that is commonly shared among girls who grow up too fast, it would be this: a set of parents who, for whatever reason, stood by on the shoreline and allowed their daughter to wander in too deep.”
She’s our oldest child, so we are experiencing all of this parenting stuff with her for the first time and maybe we’ll be a little more prepared when the other three enter this preteen or “tween” stage of life. Growing up is a part of life and we are excited to see what God has planned for each of our children as they get older, but there is no need to rush things. We’ve been singing the Lecrae song, “Say I Won’t (Why Y’all Scared To Be Different?)” a lot around the house lately. This is to remind our children that as Christians we aren’t going to think and act like the majority of the world. We are are walking down the narrow path that leads to life, but not many take this route (Matthew 7:14).
I did end up buying deodorant for her personal hygiene, but for now, I’m glad that she still likes to play with her baby dolls, and hold my hand when we go on family walks.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1