The Weekend We Had The Talk
After the luggage was dragged in from the car, my three girls and I sat in the living room. The older two (16, and 12) looked at the newly minted "pre-teen" and started in with the questions.
What did we do?
Where did we go?
Can they see "the gift"?
Did she sign it??
You see, my 11 year old and I were just returning from a weekend away together. She had seen her eldest sister get the mother/daughter weekend. Then she had watched her other sister go. And a few days ago it was finally her turn! So the older two knew what was in store for her, and wanted all the juicy details!
I, on the other hand, had just finished my very last mother/daughter retreat! Maybe not all retreats, but this kind is a once in a lifetime kind of thing. A lump was in my throat, I looked at my beautiful teens with a full heart and a few tears. I want to tell you about this weekend, if you don't mind?
The weekend starts after the 10th birthday in our house. It is the 11th birthday celebration. We book two nights away at a hotel. We spend time together, we do one special event, we have a special dinner and she gets a special gift. It is our 'coming of age' celebration. In our house this is a big deal - both for them and for me.
You see, this is the weekend, where we talk about boys.
We talk about all things dating, peer pressure, boys and S.E.X. If you don't do this yet with your pre-teens, I highly recommend it.
The idea is from Passport to Purity. And to be honest, it is a faith-based curriculum and we follow it pretty closely. But even if you don't follow their beliefs, any weekend like the one I'm going to tell you about will make such an impact on your little girl or boy's life.
The purpose of the weekend is 2 fold. One, it is to mark a milestone - a coming of age. But it is also to be the primary source of information about sex, body image and self esteem.
Of all the places to learn about these things, the playground is about the last place I'd pick for my daughter. If you choose to do this, I recommend you pick a time before your daughter reaches puberty.
When I was young, I learned a lot from my friends because lots of things weren't really spoken about when I was growing up. Anyone else tempted to point, blush and refer to "down there"? Am I giving away my age? :)
In either case, the most important thing is that my girls can dialogue with me - whether or not I'm uncomfortable. When my kids were very little I had made the decision to refer to body parts by their proper and respectful names. Instead of "down there" my girls talk (too freely probably) about their vaginas.
In my family of origin, my brother referred to his penis as a 'pinky'. Guess what kind of embarrassment awaited him when someone threw around the word pinky in reference to their 4th finger?
When you think about it, our bodies are pretty amazing - from the respiratory system to the reproductive one. And for goodness' sake, the kids at school are just the blind leading the blind - yikes!
On the way to the hotel, we discuss the schedule and purpose for the retreat. I present her with the special journal from Passport to Purity. And we listen to lesson 1, talking about our family faith and values.
We had a great time gathering snacks, discovering the hotel, and listening to lesson 2 - about peer pressure and choosing friends wisely. The object lessons are pretty amazing actually. I still remember them! (a good apple left in a bag with bad apples for a couple months? ewww)
We get to enjoy an early breakfast together and then get to work on our lessons. We cover sexual maturity - in detail. And how the hormonal flushes through the system may cause havoc with feelings. This comes with an awesome object lesson with matches and fire! Wahoo!
Break time then back to the session!
Almost done session - is the Purity discussion. We discuss her dating standards. How will she choose how far she goes? How far is appropriate for which age? Or which kind of relationship? Will it be easy or difficult to stay true to those decisions. And then we do an experiment poking a balloon full of water with a pin.
And then FINALLY, it's activity time. For my eldest, we did mani/pedi and went shopping. My middle, we went swimming. My baby, we did ceramic painting and hanging out relaxing… it tells you about the personalities of them, right? :)
Then we get all prettied up and head out to a fancy restaurant.
On the way there we do the last session which is about dating and choosing your standards. We put this all down in a contract. And then she signs her contract.
To wrap up our time together, each of my daughters have received a commemorative ring. I've heard of "purity rings" in some families. For us, we use the weekend to open the dialogue. We discuss all the intricate details, so she's not walking blind. And the ring is a reminder of her promise to herself.
Having arrived home, all three of my girls thoroughly schooled on hormones, dating, standards and my dreams and hopes for their future relationships. It is now up to them.
They have all walked their own paths to some degree. My youngest is still the closest to me, the oldest is about to get her driver's license. They are all uniquely qualified and gifted to make a difference in the world.
The hardest thing I've had to do, is let them go. Little bits at a time, I have to remember they are qualified, they are capable. I have done what I can. They know I'm here in their corner. They know they can return for comfort, assurance or guidance. And now it's their turn.
Have you had the talk with your children yet? How did it/do you expect this to go? Has Cathy's story given you any advice, support, hope? Please share with us in the comments below.