My family is fairly overprotective of our 13-year-old daughter, but not in the typical sense of daddy cleaning his shotgun when the boy comes over to take the daughter on a date. Momma is cleaning the shotgun in this house.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, many of the kids had “boyfriends” or “girlfriends” and my daughter even had a little boyfriend for a while. At first we just laughed it off as cute, but as time went on it started to bother me that kids were already concerned with complex boy-girl relationships at 5 and 6 years old. We had the discussion with our daughter that it is ok to have friends who are boys, but boyfriends weren’t appropriate at that age.
By third grade many of the kids in her class not only had boyfriends and girlfriends; they had steady relationships and proclaimed their love for each other in Facebook. The was a small scandal when one girl was caught sending sexually explicit text messages to a popular boy.
Now that my daughter is in middle school, not only is there enormous pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, there are female students in 7th and 8th grade who are pregnant. There was a recent incident where two boys were habitually unhooking a 12-year-old girls bra strap, groping her, and making disgusting sexual comments to her.
In such a sexualized culture where purity is not only rare it is something that is mocked, raising a child that remains innocent is a challenge to say the least. We have made some dramatic changes in our parenting plan and lifestyle to instill certain values into our daughter.
The most radical change we made is pulling her out of public school and homeschooling her. In our state there is a lot of support available from the school, so she is able to continue with the same quality of education at home, without the constant pressures of a large middle school. We are also able to more easily control her interactions with friends, and who feeds into her life. We have made regular church attendance a priority, not only so she is exposed to our beliefs and values, but also because she has more like-minded friends there. My husband and I try to model a good relationship to her as well. This may be the most important factor in passing our values down to her. If she sees a secure, loving marriage we feel that she is more likely to make wise choices where dating and boys are concerned.
We know that we can’t keep her in a bubble her entire life, and that isn’t our goal. We merely want to give her a safe, nurturing environment until she is mature enough to make wise decisions. She is definitely not allowed to date at her current age, but when the day comes we have already set clear expectations and boundaries, and are confident that she will make better decisions because of the guidance she has received at home.