Monday, August 20, 2012

A Conversation With a Teenager

"So, I'll never be allowed to have boys in my room?" said Sunshine.

"Never," I said

"Don't you trust me?"

"Oh, Honey, of course I trust you," I said. "You’ve never given me a reason not to trust you. You’re good and you make good choices.  You’re smart and you make smart choices.  You’re wise and savvy and kind, and you bring all of these wonderful traits to your decision making, and I believe, I hope, that you will continue to do so."

Then I couldn't help but jump in: "But, Sunshine, you are coming into some very different territory where the terrain gets tricky to navigate. There will be pressures, social pressures and pressures from boys, beyond any pressures you’ve come up against already.  And your head and your heart will conflict, to leave you uncertain. Forget about the wild hormones that will throw everything off kilter to mess with your thinking.

Yes, I trust you, Baby, I really do, but I’m afraid for you, too.  I’m terrified.  The choices you’ve made in the past have been of mere training ground for the choices you’ll need to make in the future, grown-up choices of the adult world, where the consequences are real, long-lasting, and life-altering.

And while you make good choices, the whole set up is unfair because you’ll be forced to make choices that, as a teenage girl, you’re not even equipped to make. You’ll be forced to make grown-up, long-lasting, life-altering choices, wrought with social and sexual pressures—and yet, you aren’t psychologically, emotionally or even mentally fully equipped to handle these choices because, Sunshine, the human brain isn’t fully developed until a person reaches something like 25 years of age. 

What this means, Beautiful Girl, is that even though you are a good girl, a responsible girl who makes good choices, until you are older and more experienced, you can’t fully understand or completely appreciate the potential consequences of your choices—the life-altering consequences.   

So, Baby Girl, while I trust you—I really, really do—I’m afraid for you.  It’s the instinctual fear of a parent and I hope that you can forgive me for it because, Sunsine, this fear of mine might be the only thing to level the land a little, keep you from tripping early on this new path.  Make sense?”

I breathed, hoping that she understood what I was saying, hoping that at least one or two words registered.

One or two words did: "Speaking of fully developed, can we go bra shopping?”  

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