Now that I’m a mother, I can’t even listen to a cool song without it triggering fears of my girls one day making cliche teenage mistakes.
I loved the sound of the song. And this video rocked a funky simplicity. But the lyrics painted a picture that made me want to cling to my 2 and 4 year old girls and beg them not to grow up.
As I listen to the song again today, the images in my mind make me want to grab hold of my girls and plead with them to be different from the rest… to laugh in the face of the cliche of peer pressure.
I want them to make the same decisions I made!
(That may surprise some of you… Do you want your children to make the same decisions you did? I think some might not… LOL… Tell me about it in the comments… or better yet write a post and link to it in the comments.)
I know my girls are completely different little human beings — entirely separate from me — and that they’re going to have lives radically different from mine. Still, I can’t help but want them to get through high school as unscathed as I did.
I look back at my high school years, and I’m actually really proud of myself. And I’m thankful. Profoundly thankful for everything in my childhood and my life that helped me make good decisions and have a fun teenage experience without any of the crap that often spoils those years.
I want so desperately for my girls to have fun as teenagers but still to grow spiritually and avoid the very real dangers that lay waiting for teenage girls.
I try to piece together what gave me such confidence to laugh in the face of peer pressure. What helped me to be friends with everyone but toss aside the temptations and negative influences?
I never did drugs, never ended up with my head in the toilet from drinking too much, and I never showed up at school to have everyone whispering that I’d slept with so-and-so. I watched and supported my friends during all that typical drama, but I never let it happen to me.
I don’t say any of that to brag.
Not at all. Please do NOT take it that way.
I say it because now, as a mother, I want to figure out how and why I made those good choices and how I can help steer my girls towards safe waters too.
So I look back and I try to learn. And I’m asking you too… so that we can learn together.
I think the main reason I made good choices as a teenager was my faith.
I was NOT a model Christian… I struggled with swearing, was guilty of gossip, and slept in countless Sunday mornings.
But I had a profound personal relationship with God where I felt I could talk to Him all day long — about everything — I just had a running conversation with Him. And I still do!
Because of that constant conversation, it made making the wrong choices pretty hard. I felt God was right next to me and it would be pretty stupid to do drugs with God sitting one chair over.
That’s not to say I didn’t make wrong choices… come on… of course I made them constantly, and I still do. But I managed to avoid the big ones… the teenage biggies… those premeditated decisions like, “I’m going to pop this pill, I’m going to get drunk and puke my gutts out and make a fool of myself, I’m going to date this guy when I know he’s wrong for me.”
Choices like those were big enough that I didn’t feel cool doing that stuff while I was hanging out with God.
(I actually often think of how I had a closer relationship with God back then as I leaned on him constantly to get me through those days. And now, as a busy work-at-home mom when my challenges are more mundane and the busyness of life keeps me from my Bible, I have let my relationship with God weaken quite a lot.)
So definitely my faith and my relationship with God was the number one reason I made it through high school without regrets.
But there’s more than that… because countless strong Christian kids still fall victim to the teenage years. Why didn’t I? (Or my twin sister Janice… this post could almost have been written by her, since we basically had the same experiences.)
Another piece of the puzzle that helped me immeasurably was to have a huge group of friends outside of my school friends.
I had friends that I loved from church and I was connected with a network of Christian kids through a summer camp. We met in the summer, but hung out all year long. My friend group there was so much bigger and more exciting than the kids at school.
So while I had friends at school, I wasn’t that invested in those relationships. And I didn’t feel that I needed to impress them or do anything to stay part of the group. Weekends were my time to hang out with my other friends — the ones I loved more.
And that was huge.
Those Christian friends were (most of the time) also making good decisions. Together we went to rock concerts without doing drugs. Together we hung out until 3 am but stayed safe the whole time. (Okay, yes, it was with my Christian friends that I experimented with smoking… but it was only cigarettes and after a month I tossed that habit aside.)
Kids need friends. Teenage girls need GOOD friends!
I was so blessed with quality friends outside of the high-school social pecking order.
And for my girls, I will be trying very hard to give them opportunities like my summer camp experiences, where they can create true friendships that will carry them through the high-school drama.
But again… I knew Christian girls with great Christian friends who still ended up making those cliche choices.
There was something more…
Another fundamental reason… self-confidence.
I had a remarkable self-confidence. I talked about that confidence in a video interview with Gwen Bell. And that self-confidence is the tough piece that I want to try to emulate in my daughters.
I was not the prettiest girl in school. But it didn’t matter. I had a confidence deep down that made me attractive. I didn’t need to be hanging off the arm of the high-school basketball star to feel cool, I felt cool by myself. Sure, I had boyfriends and I had fun crushes but it was all so secondary to me… no guy ever defined me.
And it wasn’t even that I made an explicit choice to not let a guy define me, it just didn’t happen. I just felt complete anyway.
Yes, I fell in love. Fell hard a few times. I fell out of love. I had crushes that killed. I flirted. A lot. I chased guys just for the chase and had fun knowing they wanted me and wouldn’t get me. I had fun. Tons of fun.
When I look back at my teenage years, that’s mostly what I remember. Fun. (That and a lot of homework because I was a perfectionist and had to get straight A’s.)
Again, I was not a perfect teenager and I was not a perfect Christian… but when it came to the big stuff, I knew what mattered and I was confident to stand up for myself.
The self-confidence is the toughest piece of the puzzle. It is what I’m going to be trying to help form in my daughters.
It is what I’m trying to instill in them even now at 2 and 4. Because self confidence is something that starts when they’re small and grows slowly and, hopefully, grows steadily.
So, as a mom to my precious girls, I will pray daily for them for their faith, for true friendships and for their confidence.
And I’ll pray that they stay out of the chillout tent.
But enough about me…
Tell me your story…
Did you feel confident in high school?
What did your life look like back then?
Is it what you want for your kids?
How do you plan to help your kids avoid teenage pitfalls?