Friday, March 30, 2007

Letter to a teenage daughter

I'd like to ask for your help, from anyone reading this blog.

My daughter is entering the Maiden phase, has just hit puberty in the last year, and will soon be fifteen. That's the age I lost my virginity at, under dubious circumstances not entirely of my own choosing. Peer pressure had a lot to do with it, and hippy communes (hmmm, that story may come out later if I ever write that autobiography....)

So what I want help with is: how to let a daughter know how to trust her budding body's sexuality, and yet protect her from losing herself; how to teach her to trust her instincts in a world of double standards which does not honour female sexuality, yet encourages attractiveness and desireability in girls. How to teach her respect for her body, and boundary making?

I'd like to write her a letter, and tell her that being a virgin is a good thing, that sex is about choice, her choice not her friends' timing. I want to let her know that oral sex is sex, and that it's often degrading for girls to provide this as some kind of service to boys who give little or nothing in return, not to mention the risk of disease, herpes, etc. Being popular does not make it worth it. And then, alcohol - how a girl must keep her head together, because alcohol lowers her resistance, loosens her inhibitions and her common sense.

Women/girls make love for different reasons than boys I think. Maybe I'm wrong, there are lots of sensitive boys and men out there, but our needs are more emotional - we bond quickly. We make links, little spider threads of love and need get woven into our psyches when we make love. We can't break those bonds as easily. We expect reciprocity and it's not always forthcoming. I know I can't protect her from heart break, but as her mother, I want her to feel like she knows her own limits, her own self-worth.

So, for all these reasons, I need your advice - write me if you can, with your story, or how you let your daughters know about the joys and pitfalls of becoming a sexual being.

many thanks,


welcome to my universe said...

Perhaps you should sit her down to read this blog post. It says all the things that need to be said and it is clear that the place you are coming from is one of loving and caring for her. I sat my daughter down and went through the same things, but she made mistakes along the way in spite of this. This is what you must be prepared for, that your advice will not mean much in the heat of the moment, when hormones are raging and peer pressure is on. But then it may. I think emphasising that the 'choice' is all hers, may prompt her to think before acting. All you can do is trust that she will make the right choices when the time comes and love and support her if she makes the wrong ones. (I made my mistakes too)I hope this helps a little.

musemother said...

thank you for sharing your wisdom, my sister-in-law said the same thing, let her read this entry. We came back from the homeopath tonight and my long-legged girl is dancing in the kitchen, that the lovely grandmotherly huggable lady found the right remedy for all her ailments - "it even says I don't like Math!"
thank goodness for healers in our lives,

Anonymous said...

I think the only thing you can do is share your story with her and keep the lines of communication open so that she knows that you are there for her. Hopefully she will feel that she can talk with you about what's going on with her - but you can not spare her from the pain and heartache that is a part of growing up and that will become her story.

Anonymous said...

It's such a difficult situation and I have recently come through a three and a half year, extremely intense phase with my own daughter. What I learnt was that I can educate (an afternoon in Waterstone's researching how many units of alcohol do what to a girl with her body mass index was particularly helpful) but that the biggest lesson was that I had to let go. The best I could do was to lay down some very basic, sensible rules and stick with those through thick and thin.

Mauricio said...

Did you ever write that letter. I need one ASAP

Jennifer Boire said...

as the first comment says, the letter is in the blog post. You know your daughter, you know your fears. I heard an interview with the authors of a book called Hooked - Casual Sex and teens (something like that) on PBS radio, and they said, no matter what faces your teen makes, how uninterested they seem, you MUST have the conversation; teens who hear from their parents about their values are less likely to do damage to themselves; I told my daughter this week, I'm more worried about you getting your heart broken than about pregnancy - cause I'm sure you don't want that either - and she heard it (in her heart at least, I felt it). The best place to talk is in the car, both looking ahead, not at each other, I find. If you can't have the conversation, a letter is really useful too. Let her know you care about her, bottom line. It's about caring, protection and love, building self-esteem, keepig the connection open....I'm still working on it, obviously, but that author encouraged me to speak up, yet again, inspite of the groans and "Oh Mom you've told me before" I get back.

Anonymous said...

I presume you are either from the UK or the United States. We go through these stages a lot later here in South America (although, having said that, some do not)with our teens, because society is more religious prone or more family oriented.

I believe keeping the communication lines open and trying to not be judgmental is key, as well as exerting some kind of discipline because although the majority of US citizens have been mistakenly led to believe (I think Dr. Spock is to blame for this) that they don't want discipline, secretly they do! This doesn't mean hitting or insulting or nagging at them, it implies sitting down with them as adults and setting boundaries from an early age. It also means to give an example because obviously, my daughter aged 16 smokes because I smoke! So I can hardly tell her about all the dangers of smoking because I continue to do so, even though I do warn her when I feel she is smoking too much for her age. However, some teenagers take it another way, they vow never to be like their parents (which they end up invariably doing).

My best bet, is using your experience to make them believe they came to a decision on their own and not because of your pressure or nagging. One very good system I implemented for myself, was to think and go back to when I was her age, what I felt, how I would have taken this comment that I, as a mother, am about to issue to my teenage daughter? Never forget to remind them that you love them and that you are proud of them because of xxxxxx! In other words, eliminate the criticism, even though they critize you all the time as a mother and be there for them. Believe me, they will quickly catch on that you may not agree with them on several points, but you ARE THERE FOR THEM! Which is the most important point of all. I didn't have such luck with my mother as I presume her mother was not there for her, but I am striving to change that vicious circle.

Hope my advice helps you