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A Father’s Worst Fear is Looming…

Taylor and me nearly 8 years ago...

Our oldest daughter is 10 years old and in the fifth grade.  She plays the violin, is a voracious reader, loves playing with her cats and playing American Girl dolls with her sister.

She’s possibly the kindest and most considerate person I know.

She makes me want to be a better father, a better husband and a better man.

I love her desperately.

I’ll always see her as the little girl in the picture above – I can’t help it.

But that’s all changing during the next several days.

Next week, her entire grade level will begin a week-long health class about puberty, adolescence and sexuality.

Apparently the curriculum developers don’t know that she’s still my little girl, and that I don’t want her to learn about hormones, monthly cycles and peer pressure – please, not just yet.

My heart wants to fight it.

My heart wants to defend her innocence just a little longer because I don’t want her to lose that carefree brightness and inner glow that always darkens with age.

That’s my fear – her loss of innocence and it’s gathering like a cloud in my heart.

She doesn’t see it that way. For her, she wants to be a teenager – she wants to grow up yesterday.  I think all of us were the same way, but in hindsight I deeply miss my own blissful days of innocence.

But my mind knows that this has to happen for her, and that it’s the first step of many towards maturity.

She’s not on the journey alone – my wife and I are with her every step of the way. While we can’t shelter her from this inevitable shock wave of information, as her parents we can brace her and shape the blast.

For many months, my wife and I have been talking about the best way to prepare for this.

So before her school has its say on the matter – we’ll have ours.

That’s why my wife booked an overnight for the two of them, a couple hours drive from our home. On the way up and back, they’ll listen to a faith-based CD series titled Preparing for Adolescence, and they’ll have plenty of “girl time” to discuss what’s on each others hearts and minds.

Then a hand off will occur where I’ll have some alone time with my eldest to mark this symbolic rite of passage. She and I will then talk, and I’ll answer any of her questions from a dad’s perspective – hopefully over ice cream.

Then I plan on giving her a simple ring for her to wear as a token of my love for her and a reminder that she’ll always be my little girl.

Even as I write this, I’m beginning to think that what I fear most is not necessarily her loss of innocence as much as my personal loss of my little girl.

She may already have a flawed, yet working knowledge about the “birds and bees” gleaned from back-of-the-school-bus whispers and rumors during recess from classmates with older siblings. That doesn’t matter, she needs to hear it from us.

But I don’t have to like it.

I know it’s still several years before she’s in high school, dating, getting a driver’s license, landing her first job, attending college or getting married with a family of her own.

I get that.

Still, my heart is aching because during the next week she’ll be taking baby steps toward adulthood that are giant leaps away from the little girl I’ll always carry in my heart.

 

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I remember that 5th grade time with both of mine. My wife handled our daughter and I handled my son. Then we’ve been incredibly open about it and treates it like a normal part of life and nothing to be ashamed of. My daughter has been cool eith it. My son doesn’t ever want to talk about it further. But both come to us to talk about whatever is on their hearts.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Thanks for the comment Larry, I’m grateful for the the perspective and hopeful that our kids will similarly maintain a dialogue with us for years to come!

      • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

        The main thing is to be honest and upfront. We talk about everything now. Our kids love talking to us. We don’t treat any subject as off-limits. We talk about our warts and all.

  • Kristen

    Tor,
    I can only imagine how hard this must be…to watch your baby girl grow up. I still consider myself my daddy’s little girl and I will be 41 next month. One thing I can tell you is, she is very lucky to have such loving parents to help guide her way. You are helping to build a wonderful foundation and giving her all the tools to make the very best decisions. Your article made me cry. It was beautiful and full of love. She will cherish your time and your ring forever. You are a excellent Dad. Good luck with your talk.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Thanks KB, I appreciate the thoughts and kind words – you’re very gracious!

  • http://www.rickyanderson.net/ Ricky Anderson

    I read Preparing for Adolescence with my dad, and it worked – I’ve never grown up!

    Great thoughts, Tor.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Hah! I’m in the same boat – while I haven’t grown up, my body seems to be growing older…doesn’t seem fair ;-)

  • http://theoddcoupleblog.com/ Shawn

    Your little girl is so blessed to have you as a daddy. A dad brings stability to a little girl and lets her know she is cared for & loved. My little girl went with her daddy last night to get fitted for his tux to wear at her wedding this summer.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Thanks Shawn, congratulations on raising a daughter the right way and on her marriage!

  • http://theromanticvineyard.com/ Debi – The Romantic Vineyard

    Tor,
    What a beautiful post that your daughter can look back on as an adult and thank God for. We have three grown children, and we did a similar thing with our children. We home-schooled them, so we didn’t have the pressure of outside information in the same way you are facing. But in the world we live it is inevitable that they will learn about life either from us as parents or from whoever else happens to be speaking the loudest. Great job!

    It always helps me to write about times like this in life to help me focus on what’s important and not wallow in sadness. We have children for the purpose of raising them to be responsible, God-loving adults. This is one of many steps in the right direction.

    Love this post, Tor! BTW, our middle daughter is expecting her third child the same time your wife is. Yes, I’m that old! :-)

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Debi, thanks for the encouraging words. As a parent, I know that our role is to raise God-loving, independent individuals who will positively impact the world. Our daughter is going to be a great lady – I’m just getting a little sentimental ;-)

  • Amanda Sachs

    During that time for me my parents were divorced and it was just my mom, my sister and myself in the house. Being a house of all females my mom left the door open for those conversations at anytime way before school even brought it up. It was before bed conversations, dinner conversations, and driving around in the car conversations.

    I think the best thing a family can do is not treat it as an awful, scary or secretive thing. Its natural and very human. Good for you and your wife for not depending on the school to handle such a heavy topic.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Thanks for the perspective and insight Amanda. My wife and done a great job of normalizing aspects of puberty and adolescence for both our girls for the past few years – we just haven’t broached topics of intimacy and procreation yet because there wasn’t a need or real interest by either of them. However, the school has forced our hand. Thanks again!

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

    Great post! We have an 11-year old daughter…we are definitely in a different season and moving toward a MUCH different season. I appreciate you sharing this…there are some things that we will implement from what you shared here. We’ve had some small talks, but not a “big” talk…yet. Coming soon though…

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      I appreciate the kind words JB! Like you, we haven’t tried to hide anything from our kids but we haven’t been overly aggressive at promoting the nitty gritty details…

  • http://bit.ly/hWr7Cw Rob T

    yea, what a challenging time. we went thru this with our oldest last year. funny thing was, she thought the whole sex ed thing was “gross” and wanted nothing to do with it.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Awesome perspective Rob – I’m breathing a little easier now that you’ve mentioned the negatives associated with the gross out factor!

  • Mullenann4

    Tor, a long time ago I had a chance to substitute teach a class of 4th graders who were extremely rowdy. I threatened to tell them give them the sex lecture if they didn’t calm down. Amazingly the majority of them wanted to ask me questions about sex. Some thought it was gross, but others asked questions that were way out of the realm of simple this goes here kinds of stuff. I answered their questions honestly and in some instances said I didn’t know. The kids were even rowdier, but they needed to have an honest person, not a parent or teacher, tell them the truth. Of course the PA system was listening in and I was dismissed during lunch.

    Do you know what, I had children the next year come up to me and ask me why I disappeared. They hugged me and I knew that they needed what I brought them. Before I was kicked out, I was getting to the part about the sacredness of their bodies and good and bad touch. I got a little of that in and I hope it sank in.

    Kids need to know and their shocked parents often aren’t able to be honest and open. The teachers are told to tell the kids to ask their parents.

    You are worried about your child’s innocence, but there are plenty of children out there who haven’t been innocent for many years. I can’t write to you the questions they asked on this space, but trust me when I say the kids as young as 10 need the truth, to be able to ask and be answered honestly and to be respected even while they act out during the answers.

    Your daughter will be fine because you are preparing her somewhat, but be sure that she knows you will answer any questions she has and that you will not get upset. She has to know this or she won’t trust you when she really needs you.

  • Yshekster

    Thank you! We are going through the same thing right now.
    I think there is merit in teaching our children perhaps earlier than we were. I believe that the knowledge actually protects them against predators. This is what I’ve gathered from what I’ve read and heard from victims.
    -Yvonne

  • http://www.adjuvancy.com/wordpress Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    Don’t worry, Tor. If we do things right- they always remain our little girls… even when they are 35, 33, and 29…

  • http://www.ramblingbarba.com Ken Hagerman

    Great job with the alone time with mom and the ring. I have two daughters 13 and 15. It has been a challenge for me, the dad, to let them be women.

  • http://renewing-your-mind.blogspot.com/ Kelly J Youngblood

    I don’t have daughters, and my sons are still little, and this still made me tear up!

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    Praying for you Tor!!!!

  • http://randomlychad.com Chad Jones

    Tor, you don’t have to like it–that’s ok. But I guess we have to accept it.

    Like you and your wife, me and mine tried to protect our son, reveal age appropriate truths, etc. as he grew. However, candidly, I have to admit that I waited too long to have “the talk”–he got an earful on the way to Christian camp one year. I had failed to prepare him. And my wife and I were left with trying to put back together the shattered pieces of his innocence.

    If I had it to do over again, I would do it much the same as you. You are blessed to have this opportunity.

  • Joy

    Tor this is absolutely awesome and made me tear up as well. I so know where you are coming from for I feel the children are being robbed of the care free years earliier and earlier.I know the talk will go well on Kim’s end and perhaps might be a bit weird on your end (speaking from experience with my Daddy) but I also know God will direct and it will be all fine. I too love remembering the Taylor that is so young just as I like remembering the Jaimee that was so young.

  • Tmkeys

    Outstanding.

  • Shelley

    I love the way you’re handling this rite of passage. She will cherish the way you and your wife are investing in her. Well done

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Thanks Shelley, that means a lot1

  • Meredithmcnerney

    I’m so impressed and inspired by how you’ve decided to handle this with your amazing daughter. She is pretty incredible and so are her parents!! And…thanks for the great tips; in a few years, we will steal your ideas for sure!!!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Meredith, I just wanted to say what a FANTASTIC time we had with your family this weekend. Thanks for the invitation and I hope we didn’t overstay our welcome – I tend to be quite chatty….

  • Kim Hall

    What a thoughtful and wonderful way to handle this time with your daughter. I believe you are building a bridge of trust so that as she has questions during the class or as she grows older, she will feel comfortable coming to one or both of you. That is so important in the coming years!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Thanks Kim – I agree that the single most important outcome of our weekend was the open line of communication for the future!

  • CK

    Your an amazing Daddy Tor! I love the ring. What an incredibly special and thoughtful gesture which , I know will mean the absolute world to your sweet Bean.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Catherine, I’m honored by your comment – thanks so much for stopping by! Kim and I greatly value the friendship of you and Kevin. Looking forward to your visit this weekend!

  • http://shipboundfortarshish.wordpress.com/ Bonnie Anderson

    This is a very emotional time for parents. You have captured it well here. What a gift you and your wife are giving your daughters by taking the time with them on this difficult subject. I think you and your wife are great examples of how to do this right. I’m thankful for your realm of influence here that will encourage other parents. Way to go, Dad. And, she’ll always be your little girl even when she’s a grown woman. On a side note, now that my daughter is 31, we enjoy talking about how “the talk” went for both of us. It’s pretty funny a decade plus later.

  • http://twitter.com/Prathiiiii Prathipa

    wow, worry of an western father!!! i can understand!! Luckily or unluckily we dont have sexual education system in our country!! Though its proposed!!
    She will always be your sweet girl!!!