Thursday, October 25, 2012

Keeping her from growing up too fast

If you are a natalie's sentiments facebook fan, you may have seen my distressing cry for parenting advice last week. If not, here was my update:

"Parenting emergency. Lydia came home from school today obviously wanting to tell me something, but couldn't quite do it. Finally, covering her face, she wrote out the word "SEX". My 6 year old was told about sex today by a boy in her class. He also said he wanted to "pretend sex" with her in the field at recess. I think I handled the conversation ok with Lydia, but what do I do with the situation at school??? Do I talk to the teacher? The boy's parents? I thought I was at least a couple years away from having to deal with this!"

Thank you very much for all of your advice. It helped immensely. The most "liked" advice was from Randi Schmid who said, "I would call the school immediately! No, in fact, I would go to school and speak directly to the principle. That's unacceptable. I know it probably happens but it should be addressed immediately. The boys' parents should be called by the school, though." 

The next day I made an appointment to speak to the principle. She was mortified. While she said this was not uncommon, she did take it very seriously. The boy was pulled out of class and the principle and he had a little chat. He was pretty embarrassed, but the principle got him to admit he had told her about sex. However, it was still a little sketchy on what exactly he had told her. Lydia was too embarrassed during our talk to tell me exactly, and I didn't want to force her into anything. I knew that this conversation needed to make her feel safe and teach her that I was an ally. For that reason, I also told the principle that Lydia was not to be made aware that I had divulged our conversation. She assured me that the parents would be called, their teacher made aware of the situation and that the boy would be watched. He was also keep from recess the rest of the day so he could not talk to Lydia about his meeting with the principle. The principle said we could meet again soon to discuss the situation.

Right after our meeting, I went and joined Lydia for lunch in the cafeteria. She was thrilled with the happy meal I brought. As we munched on fries she leaned over to me and whispered. "I talked to Pete* today. I told him I didn't want to play the sex game or talk about it anymore". I told her that was great. I reminded her again that sex was something she could always talk to me or daddy about, but not with anyone else. "Oh, I know". *name changed

It's sad. I've done a lot to try and keep my little girl from growing up too fast. But she's very mature and looks like she's 2 years older than she is. All the more reason to be vigilant.

I do almost all of her clothes shopping and never go near places like "Limited Too", or even the girls section of Target. Sexy is not a look I want for my 6 year old. Why would anyone?

Lydia is hardly ever on the computer, and when she is, I'm with her. Last year we shut off cable so that we could have complete control over the shows the kids watch (and to escape commercials and the crazy cable bill). We just have Netflix streaming. I heard one of Lydia's friends telling her that all the shows Lydia and Collin watch "are for babies". That made me smile. I love that my six year old is watching strawberry shortcake, Wonder Pets and Max and Ruby. Shows meant for 6 year olds. I happen to know this particular friend can watch any PG-13 movie she wants to, as long as a parent is watching with her. So I'm guessing she really has a good understanding of sex. That friend hasn't been invited over again.

There is no reason for any child to grow up as faster than they need to. But often we can't keep it from happening. This summer I took the kids to the local park. Annoyingly, a bunch of teenagers were lurking around the play equipment. I hate that. On several occasions I've asked older kids to get off the playground so the young kids could play. I'm that mom.

Well, on this occasion, Lydia ran over to the swings while I was helping Collin elsewhere. I saw that there were a couple teenage boys also swinging. When I noticed they were talking to her, I grabbed Collin's hand and walked over to them. The boys left quickly. It was time for us to go anyway, so we headed home.

"Mom, those boys were really nice."

"Oh yea? Why was that?"

"Well, one said that no matter how much he wanted to hit little girls, he wouldn't."

Anger rising in my chest. "Um, that's not really a nice thing. You shouldn't want to hit anyone."

"Oh." "Mom, what's "herpes"?"

This was when I slammed on my brakes, flipped my car back to the park to find these "nice boys" who had talked to my daughter about herpes, so I could slap their pimply faces. Unfortunately they had retreated back to their dork cave.

I know there's no way to totally protect our kids from this world that wants them to be Honey Boo Boo (gag) instead of Anne of Green Gables. But it's hard. There's a lot of crap out there.

I'm so unbelievable thrilled that Lydia came to me to talk about her sudden introduction to sex. And I think I handled it well. The moment she told me what had happened, I said a silent prayer that I would be the parent she needed me to be. I stayed relaxed and listened. I kept it light. I never let her feel like she had done anything wrong, or that there was anything wrong with sex. Just that it was a special, private thing that we would talk about when she was older. But I made sure she knew she could always talk to me about it. Anytime.

Since then, I've asked her exactly what it was that *Pete told her about sex. She says she can't really remember. She remembers something about being naked and kissing, but after that she said she didn't really want to know anymore, so she stopped listening. She didn't like the way he made her feel, so she left. I marvel at the strength of my little girl to already trust herself enough to walk away in a situation that she felt uncomfortable. Even with a boy who she has "liked" since the beginning of school.

Oh, I pray that she will always have that strength.

9 comments:

Jenifer Parris said...

Kuddos to you Momma for handling that situation so well. No doubt your prayer at the beginning helped you through. God is so good. I'm afraid our oldest girl's friend list just gets smaller and smaller each year. Hard to find families that have the same values we do. If y'all ever move to Alabama, we'll so have to do a playdate! Ha! :-)

amydear said...

When I was in 4th grade a boy told me he was going to show me his testicles. I knew that wasn't an appropriate thing, so I told my teacher. That boy had to go to a counselor for a couple of sessions. He made me pay several times over the next few years. It was kind of painful and awkward, but I still felt like I did the right thing. I have a very open relationship with my kids and we talk about sex and intimacy at their level as much as they want to. I do feel like starting the dialogue at an early age is important, as is not putting them off if they are interested. My son asked for his initial talk; I decided to talk with my daughter when she was 8. I absolutely think principals and teachers need to know that this talk is not acceptable at the elementary school, even if it is somewhat innocent. With younger and younger kids viewing and engaging in all kinds of sexual activities, we have to be extra viligant. Kids should be able to be kids. I'm sure you and Shane will do an excellent job as your kids grow older. Sounds like you're on a great track with Lydia already.

Ashley said...

This is such a wonderful post.

I don't have any kids, but I can't imagine how hard that must have been to hear from your daughter at age 6.

I agree with the tv/cell phone thing as well.


PG 13 at age 6???
What's with people and the way they are raising their kids (well lake there of)

dougandcheryl said...

I think you have handled this perfectly. It made me anxious to read about it.
My oldest daughter is the same age as Lydia and also looks older. I worry about when this will happen with her. It made me think about the first time someone talked to me about it at school and I realized I was in 2nd grade. My 1st grader is in a class with 1st and 2nd graders so that freaked me out. It was a good reminder to me that I need to be paying close attention.
I am so with you on the entertainment factor. We also just do netflix and my daughter gets teased sometimes too because her favorite show is still My Little Pony. We also watch shows on DVD together as a family like Road to Avonlea.

I love how you said a world that wants to turn them into Honey Boo Boo instead of Anne of Green Gables. That is so accurate and so scary. I really hope mine go the Anne way!

Sarah said...

I agree with everything you said here. That's why I want to homeschool my children! I know they'll hear and learn about things eventually, but I'd much rather they learn about them from me when they're at the right age!

Shannon said...

This has been on my mind since you posted it on facebook and I even told my husband about it. This morning he was rewatching Elder
Cook's talk from General Conference and it mentioned things that related and I wondered how your situation was resolved. I am so impressed with Lydia's maturity and the way she/you responded to the whole situation. What an important work we have in guiding these little lives!

Ashleigh Son said...

Wow! That is just CRAZY! Good job on not overreacting or making her feel uncomfortable about sex. She is one awesome little girl. Just the fact that she told you about it first says a lot about the strength and goodness of Lydia, as well as the trust she puts in you as her parent.

Jennifer said...

Wait too long and someone else will be the first to introduce the word ~ I feel your pain. One would think 6 is still way too young..but just look at our culture - like you said it's implied everywhere...even in basic TV commercials. It's revolting. I am convinced that households where the parenting is minimal that kids are just exposed to it prematurely. With a public education you just never know how soon that time will come. Some kids have inquisitive minds. We chose this year for our girls, ages 9 and 7, simply b/c we heard of innuendos circling around on the playground. The Holy Spirit just put the burden on me one day -- this is the day! It wasn't easy...and I can tell I would have otherwise drug my feet in denial that they are old enough. But now they feel comfortable asking me questions about babies and feelings & they know it's not taboo...it's just private talk for us and them. Without (age appropriate) talks, I think sometimes kids might feel a situation is too taboo to talk with mom and dad. I learned that each year you can elaborate on more details...a 6 yr old doesn't need to know what a 10 yr old does "in detail"..but maybe just the big concept of how we discuss things, or what's appropriate. First and foremost though we're reminded of how much we need to PRAY for our children! We can't take them out of this world, but we can continue to pray for them. I believe God gives us the strength and the grace to know when we need to speak truth into our kids. A learning experience for sure.

Candice said...

I am so glad that I am not the only parent that goes to the school to complain about happenings there. Granted in elementary school I didn't have to deal with that subject matter but others when it came to what I thought was not an appropriate book being read to my 5th grader. Pretty sad when they "punish" the student standing up for the right by putting them in the hall during reading time! I got a lot of grief about that from the school but stood my ground which made other parents follow!

I think we have to protect our kids to matter what, they are going to face bad things in the world and knowing that you are doing the best you can to protect them and gain their trust is a step in the right direction.

Middle School and High School will be worse, I know from experience with my kids. And them knowing they can come to you with anything will save them and you in the end!

You guys are awesome parents. I'm so glad you stood your ground and showed the school and your daughter that your values are important and worth voicing!!

Love you Natalie!

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