I have heard your voice countless times as you lament about concerns for your children. Your concerns that they don’t stay children long enough, that it is hard to find ways to keep them young and innocent, that they just grow up too fast.
I have also heard your grief that all of their friends are able to go to that latest movie that was released and your child is being left out, so you conceded and let your child go. I have heard your concern that finding modest clothing is impossible, especially for a formal event, so you choose a lesser of the evils and instead of skin tight, you opt for shorter than you would like. That is better, right? I have listened as you have expressed concern about what they might be doing in an online world, but also heard your whispers that there is nothing you can do because you don’t understand it all anyway. You mention that you don’t really like the style they are choosing and the clothes they are wearing but you want them to be an individual so you stay quiet. You have commented that you don’t really like the person of the opposite sex that they seem to be spending so much time with, and you are worried about what may be going on, but when that person calls you allow your child to go.
I have listened, and I dare say, I do not concur. I am not mean or snarky about it and I don’t believe that you are intentional in what you are allowing, I believe you are just overwhelmed. I fear that you don’t understand the consequences of your silence on issues you feel strongly about. Here is my analogy…If you are standing in a river and the current is so strong that it causes you to be unsteady or to waiver, you have few choices. You can choose to lift up your feet and coast with the current which is the easiest option, or you can choose to stand though the waters around you feel so strong that they threaten to sweep you away, especially if you continue to venture into them. The further you submerse yourself into our popular culture, the more impossible it is to stand against the current. One can stand in a river current that is strong, dare I say you can actually walk against the current if you are only in ankle or calf deep water. But as you submerse yourselves and your families into the water you are swept away by the current the deeper you go, you often cannot control the current at that point.
What this means is by the time you have begun to waiver on your ability to find modest clothes for your pre-teen daughter the current has become strong enough that it threatens unsteadiness as you concede to more and more. First it might be shorter shorts, after all finding long Bermuda style ones is hard. It then leads to tighter and more revealing because let’s face it, she is still more covered than some of her friends, but is that the best standard?
By the time you start to become concerned about the online world that your child is immersed in many waking moments of the day, it may be so far over your head that you are unsure how to proceed. How much do you take away, you want them to have a social life, right? That current gets very strong, very quickly my friend and the only way is to stop it all together until you understand it.
When your child’s style is becoming so outlandish or bizarre that you have trouble deciphering reasons behind it you may have to question who is funding it. If it is you, why not stop it. I know, that current is strong and so is the backlash you would experience.
Then there is the person of the opposite sex that is interested in your child. Your child has a lot of really good things to say about that one, but your mom instincts don’t. That current is very strong too, that one can sometimes lead to a waterfall ending so be careful. Make it stop.
I think you are worried. You are busy. You are overwhelmed. You feel alone. You look around at the other moms and they all seem to be going along in the current too. They share with you that they are also concerned, but they don’t do anything different then you do, they are coasting too.
Have you ever watched one of those documentaries or read one of those stories that talks about bystander apathy? When something happens, let’s say someone is struggling because they dropped a few cans from their bag of groceries and most people walk by without so much as batting an eye? That is what you are doing with your children. That is what is happening when you look to other moms who are experiencing some of the same things you are, and they are not standing up and stopping it.
Friend, just say no. If you don’t like the music, turn it off. If you don’t like the clothes, quit funding them. If you don’t like the person, don’t allow them around. If you don’t understand it but your child does, have them teach you or just get rid of it all together. You really can do that. Yes, there will be backlash, there will be wailing, it will be hard. But, it is YOUR responsibility. YOU are the parent, YOU still have control and it is okay to be the mom who says, “no.” Your children will survive, they might even thank you for it later.
I recently had a conversation with my 15 year old about some things I did not allow her to do when she was younger, yet many friends at her previous school were allowed to do. She shared with me that she was so angry at the time, I remember it well. I questioned myself, I wondered if it was really an issue I needed to stand strong on, I may have even waivered a bit. But in the end I decided that it was something I needed to say “no” to. I did, and there was backlash, but, it was so worth it. Now when we discuss it years later, she has actually told me I was right to say no. I began walking against the current of what all the other moms were allowing and doing, it was hard. So hard. Do you know what though? It gets a little easier with each step. Each time you take control back and stop lamenting about what you wish things were like. It is like that current, did you know you can actually walk out of a current? You can swim out of one too when you are completely submerged, just look at the riptide warnings at a beach, they tell you there is a way out.
So, to the mom who is carried by the current, just stand up and stand strong. Don’t let yourself be influenced by those around you who are going along with things. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it and you really can say, “no”. God gave you the children you have, and he created children to be protected by their parents so stand up and be that parent who says “no” and who knows, maybe you will help someone else out of the current too.