Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness
10 10 8 10
Comment: Thank you. It turns out that my child too was nervous and we did go ahead and cancel the trip for her.
Subject: Good Daughter / Bad Choice Hello- I'm here looking for advice and i loved your Intro. I'll jump right in.
Two parent home, 5 beautiful, bright kids, (4 girls and then a boy) We love our family and each other. I am the Mom. our oldest, is 15 in tenth grade, public school, smart, talented, and out going. Like most teens she has her issues.
Last week she decided to take her reputation down a couple of notches and go braless...
her ninth grade sister brought it to our attention that she had been doing this for about a week and even advertising a little by declaring a 'personal bra ban'. The day we got tuned in she was wearing a very see through white,tight, tee that read "Goats just like to nibble" with an image of billy goat's face. It was sheer enough that she felt embarrassed facing us when she got home from school. Her dad thought under the circumstances; it would be best for me to go in alone to talk with her.
She explained to us in the form of a letter that it made her feel alive and sexy and she loved the attention she had been receiving and that finally, upperclassmen (boys) were "noticing her". She didn't really think it was a bad deal since she craved that attention and she was sorry and realized she would have to pay some sort of consequence from us.
Maybe this is a natural response to a great new set of burgeoning breasts, she wants to share them ! She certainly doesn't NEED a bra to keep them in place, but it gave me visions of her swinging around a pole in her future and kinda freaked us out! On a serious note it made her dad and i wonder how we have let her down as parents.
Realistically, we don't think she has become sexually active,(obviously she is starting to experiment) there are not signs of drugs, alcohol, or other promiscuity... this just seems to be a lurch in the wrong direction. She IS suffering low self esteem. (that worries us) How can we help her get the Right Life's lesson out of this with out damaging her. One of our ideas was to have her do some volunteering for a women's crisis organization.
She is intelligent enough to connect the dots between self esteem, and self empowerment, and men mistreating and abusing. She has ben raised with Biblical principles on virtue. She is pretty deep. We love her. this was such a drastic display. We think it should be a strong/smart response to help her understand the perils of degrading herself.
Answer - Dear Anonymous,
This paragraph just jumped out at me as I read your email. She explained to us in the form of a letter that it made her feel alive and sexy and she loved the ATTNETION she had been receiving and that finally, upperclassmen (boys) were "noticing her". She didn't really think it was a bad deal since she craved that attention and she was sorry and realized she would have to pay some sort of consequence from us. I don't know that I was aware of the ATTENTION girls recieve from boys when my own children were in school
however, I would like to share something I have learned in the last ten years about our school system. At this age, most of these children are really without adult supervision. Our schools are over crowded and the children are pretty much on their own when they are not in class and even then so much can escape our teachers just because there are so many children in our schools. The level of sexual harrassment and the innuendo's which these children face daily in their school environment is overwhelming and very unsettling to new junior high and high school students.
The attention your daughter is recieving is called positive reinforcement in the field of behavior modification. Postively or negatively reinforce any behavior and you will see dramatic increases in the behavior being reinforced. Girls are ignored who do not dress sexy, they are ignored when they study and are book smart, they are ignored which means they are not ACCEPTED and appreciated for the truly great human beings they are.
Getting the highest grade in the class and not looking like they stepped off of a magazine cover is the death of their social life. Ignoring is negative reinforcement. The attention you speak of is positive reinforcement. This is a strong statement many parents are not ready to deal with, young girls are groomed to be availabe sexually to predators. Now hear me I do not believe anyone does these things consciiously or with premeditation.
However working in a field in which young girls are exposed to sexual activities which they are not ready for or are not prepared to handle is the norm. Your daughter needs to understand the difference between dressing actractively and dressing sexy. Dressing actractively means she knows she is attractive and dresses to make herself feel good. HERSELF, not the boys, not the treachers, not society. Dressing so she can attract boys attention is not just about boys attention it is about attracting boys who are seeking a sexual attention and quality she probably does not want to project.
Now having said this she is at an age where she realizing she is a sexual human being and her sexuality is something she is curious about. Time for talks and books and then some more.... of each....... The idea about volunteering with a women's crisis organization is a good one however, also doing some research on how to support her in raising her self esteem is also a very important idea, (remember she can meet all sorts of people with all sorts of problems at such a center).
Many times we as parents inadvertanly reinforce things in our children which do not promote their self esteem, how a girl looks over how she performs in activities for example. There are some great books out I highly recommend to parents, one is how to create more emotional intelligence in boys and the other is how to create more self esteem in girls.
Boys need to learn better relationship skills and girls need to learn better organization development skills and other which boys are exposed to in sports. I hope this sends you in the right direction. Please feel free to write again.
M Kay Keller
Follow up Question: Thank you so much for your response. I appreciate that you are willing to provide your skill and opinion. BOOKS... yes, reading up on teens and parenting them is exactly what we need to do. Round 1 has gone pretty well they are all great kids now lets see if we can all survive these teen years. I really appreciate your point of view.
We are making a concerted effort to communicate effectively. Poor daughter is out front of the pack... by the time her 3rd and 4th sisters roll around we have always learned so much and things go much more smoothly. Thanks for the life line. If I may:
What WOULD You say to my daughter about this? (and i somehow omitted one of my paragraphs in my original question to you.) It caused my daughter's ninth grade sister, a good deal of embarrassment. Many of the Marching band (younger sister's group) began calling her sister a slut . (after school younger sister raced to the drama room where my duaghter would be rehearsing for the play because she didn't think it could be true. She felt kinda sick when she realized that her sister was indeed in a see through shirt with nothing on underneath.... she felt she couldn't even defend her. BTW, my daughter has been kind and responsive to our concern, Still, i am concerned about her caving in morally to gain acceptance.
Thank you again,
Followup To Question - Answer:
Dear Anonymous, I would say this is a great opportunity for lessons for both teens. 1. Her sister to learn emotional boundaries. What other people think is not her problem. Anything her family does is not a reflection on who she is and anyone who would judge her so is not healthy enough to be around. 2. For her sister to understand how much her family is concerned about what she thinks of herself. It takes most of us, most of our adult lives to learn not to be controlled by other peoples reactions and approval or disapproval. What we think of ourselves is the most important opinion.
Not doing things which make us feel bad about ourselves is the hardest task in life and being independent enough to make this the main focus of our thinking seems to be a monumental task in this emotionally abusive environment in which we live. Another book I recently read which sums social pressure up really well is "Stalking of the Soul, Emotional Abuse the Erosion of Identity," by Marie-France Hiriogyen. Your children are fortunate to have a parent who cares as much as you do about their well being.
You are doing the hardest work you will ever do.
M Kay Keller