Sunday, January 15, 2012

Raising Girls

I read a lot.  Not as much as I did prior to having DSL.  For you younger folks, that means that there was a time when getting on the internet was either A) very slow and irritating, or B) impossible.  We all read a lot more in those days.  Anyway, as a teen and young adult I read voraciously.  I read everything, including plenty that was not exactly suited to my age.  Some that was not suited to anyone’s age.  When I was about 14 I read Seventeenth Summer.  Although I enjoyed it, and thought it was well written, I giggled and scoffed my way through it.  For those who might not be familiar, it’s a novel written in 1942 (wow!! until i looked it up just now, i always assumed it was written in the early 60’s.  this puts a new slant on a few of the issues in the book.) about a 17 year old girl experiencing her first crush.  It seems quaint and silly by today’s standards, as it did by my standards in about 1983ish.  However, the story is very engaging, and the characters are well fleshed out, so I’ve owned a copy at all times since then.

So here’s why this is blog worthy.  I recently thought of it as a potential book for my 13 year old insatiable reader, but I thought, “Oh, not yet.  She’s a bit too young for some of the themes.”  Basically, in the year 2012 I am raising a teen daughter who is less worldly and romantically knowledgeable than I was 30 years earlier.  This despite the fact that she is much more knowledgeable about the world in general, political and social issues, and great literature than I was, even when I was 10 years older than she currently is.  (i think that sentence made some grammar gurus’ heads explode)  In simpler terms, my 13 year old who can discuss Shakespeare, ancient Egypt, the current presidential race, Robert’s Rules of Order, and how to repel down the side of a cliff knows a lot less about “romance” than I did at her age.

Rachel as Mercutio
And romance is what you get with this book.  No sex scenes, no inappropriate language.  There are plenty of people out there who would fault me for shielding her at 13.  So be it.  I’m glad I get to raise my girl and they don’t.  I'm glad I get to influence how soon she starts getting her heart broken, how calloused she is before she is even old enough to actually know what romance and love really are.  One of the scenes in the book involves the 17 year old getting her first kiss.  She and the boy are on their second date, and it's a very chaste kiss by today's standards.  She is appalled by her own behavior, and can’t imagine what her friends would say if they knew she let the boy kiss her on the second date.  When I read it in the 1980’s I thought how silly and weird it was that she would think a kiss was anything to be embarrassed about.  In the 2010’s I would imagine that for most 17 year olds a first kiss is something barely remembered from long, long ago.  But when I thought of this book for my 13 year old blogger, baker, writer, hiker, and actress, what I thought was, “Oh, I don’t want her filling her head with romantic ideas about kissing boys.”  She's got a lot going on her life, and much more to come.  I don't think there is any advantage to adding the mental and emotional strain of romance to her life at this point.

What's the point of this little narrative?  I don't know.  Certainly not that I have stumbled upon some great daughter raising secret.  It's just something that occurred to me, and I thought you might find it interesting.


  1. I agreed with a lot of your sentiments. I have not read that particular gem, but I was recently thinking about how different my daughter is than I was at her age, and even how different she is compared to the "average" 2012 13 year old girl. I am proud and blessed to be her mother.
    Sheltered by some standards, prudish by others, weird, even, but definitely not jaded. Definitely not heartbroken.

    There are so many things in this life that are hard to understand, hard to grapple with, and there's plenty of time for her to add that one to the pile.

    I commend parents who seek to raise their children with the knowledge that there really is more to life than romance. Because, there really is.

  2. I do find it interesting. I find it encouraging. In a society where our little girls are encouraged to dress like women while still sporting their baby teeth, read books and magazines that encourage them to spend endless hours fantasizing about someday and wishing their last years of innocence away in an attempt to rush time on its way, it's encouraging to know that I'm not as prudish and ridiculous as some have alluded.
    I want my daughter to have her childhood. I want her to stay my innocent, unjaded, soft hearted little girl, as long as possible. I want her to enjoy reading a book that sets her imagination on fire rather than her hormones. I enjoy seeing her practice new skills that have nothing to do with flirting or enhancing her appearance to catch a mate that she won't have any idea what to do with once she gets him.

    I, too, am glad that I get to raise her, and not "them." That means I get to enjoy the blessing of being her mother, and watching her grow into an amazing young woman.

  3. The other stuff comes along in time. Why rush? Good job!