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A Father’s Worst Fear – Part II

The "faith" ring we gave our daughter this weekend...

Today at school, our 10-year old daughter will begin a week-long health curriculum that will include a wide range of topics including “nocturnal emissions,” menstrual cycles and the human reproductive process.

My wife and I knew that information of that caliber was likely to spur more questions amongst the kids in class and subsequent mis-information when they’re by themselves chatting it up on the playground, bus or at the lunch table.

Additionally, this information flow is one of the first steps to adulthood, which I wrote about on this past Friday with the first installment, A Father’s Worst Fear Looming.

A Heartfelt Fear

Part of me wants to keep and protect my little girls for the rest of their lives – while those feelings may be natural, acting upon them would ultimately stymie their growth.

So in Friday’s posting, I merely expressed the heartfelt pang I felt as a dad who’s daughter’s are growing up.

While that experience is nothing new –  it’s certainly new to me.

The Facts of Life

For a while, my wife and I had been planning how to equip our eldest with all the facts and information she would need to be prepared for this week’s health-class series.

Without providing details about our discussions and reactions with our daughter this weekend, every aspect of it was wonderful and occurred almost exactly as we planned. While she’ll certainly have questions in the future and will continue to process the information – we engaged her in a dialogue that we hope will continue the rest of her life.

The Ring

While my wife had conveyed the heaviest aspects of the discussion, I had some alone time with Taylor where I rounded out the discussion and gave her the ring pictured above. Even though it’s difficult to see in the photo, the ring has an etching of the word “Faith” on the outside with an inscription on the inside, which we talked a lot about.

I then told her that when she turned 13, I would swap it out for a solid gold band and we would discuss a “purity pledge.” While that’s a topic for another post – I wish it had been a discussion my parents had with me at that age.

All kids are different based on their intellectual and emotional maturity, their level of interest in the topic and peer group. Parents need to flex to those different styles.

In the case of our eldest, the world did not slip its axis, the global poles did not reverse polarity – she’s still our little girl. When the information sharing was over, she wanted to play Polly Pockets with her 7-year old sister.

Lifelong Outcomes

Another important outcome of the weekend was that we stressed to her that maturity requires responsibility. It’s Taylor’s responsibility to let my wife and I decide when our youngest will be ready for a similar weekend experience.

Again, the single most important outcome of the weekend was that we established a clear line of communication with our daughter regarding a potentially embarrassing subject.

We’re optimistic that our relationship, trust and communication will continue along that line to mature and grow stronger, just as she matures and grows toward womanhood.

Question: How was communication with your parents? How do you wish it would have been?

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Comments

  1. You’re as grounded as ever Tor, Such a great dad. I was bought up by a single Dad and we didn’t have the talk. Although he’s my best friend and we talk about absolutely everything now, I had to find out most things from my friends or female relatives. So come 17 I was a little naive and made mistakes. I am making sure not to allow the same to happen to my Son. I encourage him to tell me what he knows and then fill in the gaps (whilst trying not to laugh when he tells me you can get pregnant from sharing a bed!)

  2. My folks and I have always communicated well.

    They gave me a purity ring as well.

    It was an incredible feeling to be able to give that ring to my wife on our wedding night. Well worth waiting for!

  3. Communication with my parents was always really awkward. When it came time to have “the talk” it was just with my mom and it made me feel really uncomfortable.

    Glad you are opening those lines of communication. That’s awesome.

  4. Personally, my parents didn’t tell me anything on this matter, so I figured it all out for myself. That was painful for quite a while, until I finally got it right with the girl who is now my wife.

  5. Excellent, Tor. My parents didn’t talk with me, but that was their generation. No one talked about it publicly. So I don’t blame them. What I did learn I got from my sister who was 6 years older.
    Tom and I made sure we talked with our children when the time was right. I love how your daughter wanted to go play Polly Pockets when you were finished talking. See? Her innocence wasn’t lost, it was simply one more step on the road to adulthood. What a privilege it is to share such a relationship with your daughters. We are sharing similar stories this week, Tor, but instead of looking forward with faith to what God will do, we are reflecting back on what God has done. We’re calling it our “Looking Back” series.

  6. I was raised by a single mom on a cattle ranch. Talking about reproduction was common in our household. But there was no personal talk with my mom. It would of been nice to understand the feelings & emotions that I would experience. I made sure I talked to my kids about it. My hubby also gave my daughter a purity ring.

  7. I’ve found one of the best ways to have these conversations with our children is to simply have them when the topics come up and, with tv these days, they come up often enough. I’m not sure I’ve ever had more than a 20 or 30 minute conversation with my kids but they know the whole story (at 17) and come to me with any weird questions they hear about at school. We have a wonderful open relationship because I don’t make a big deal about any of it. It’s just like talking about finances in a way. You want to prepare them to make the right decisions but they’ll rebel if you make it too big a deal.

    Congrats on surviving and thriving in this “fearful” time!

    • Thanks Nicole and that’s good advice! I appreciate you putting “fearful” in quotes because I only used it to express a powerful parental emotion.

      At no time were we fearful of having the discussion or tried to hide anything from her – I was merely mourning the fact that my daughter is growing up. The same way Bob Carlisle does in his song “Butterfly Kisses.”

  8. Never really talked about it with them. “use a condom” was the only thing I heard and then she rented a video that had arsenio hall and Magic Johnson in it so I could learn about HIV. I learned most of the “facts of life” from all the wrong places.

    I think that in order to have good, healthy conversations about sex, parents need to have good communication and relationship in all other areas. Kinda like marriage.

    • Ben, great insight – I had a very similar “non talk” with my own parents. Unfortunately, I learned way too much about the topic before I was nine years old.

      I completely agree with your comparison of marriage and parenting – both types of relationships require nurturing!

  9. Great finish, there, Tor. It made me recall the discussions I had with my girls.

  10. Joanna Hyatt says:

    As someone who travels the country encouraging parents to engage their kids on this (and speaking to teens directly) I have to say, Well done! Sounds like you and your wife handled this beautifully and I guarantee your daughter will remember it for life.

    My parents did something similar and kept the conversation going over the years until the day I walked across the altar and said “I Do.” So grateful to them!

    • Thanks so much for the positive encouragement and hope that we’re on the correct track – it’s much appreciated Joanna!

      Hopefully we’ll maintain a meaningful, lifelong dialogue with our own daughter – similar to the one you have with your parents!

  11. I’m 21, and my parents never told me a thing. I really wish they had…

  12. I knew your follow up would be tasteful and wonderfully written and you didn’t let me down. I knew it would go well for all because we know your family and how it operates and because we were in prayer. Loved reading the follow up.

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