Just recently I was going through some old photographs and stumbled upon a heartwarming picture of my daughter and four of her friends at the tender age of nine. They were standing side by side and proudly posing, each one cradling her respective American Girl doll. I remembered taking the picture, their innocent smiles reflective of what being a “tween” girl is all about. I recall wondering, at the time, how much longer they would be content with dressing up their dolls and throwing them pretend birthday parties.
A couple of months after taking that photo, one of the same girls in the picture came over to spend the night and left her doll behind at home. Instead, she brought over a newly purchased CD. The mock birthday parties they used to stage with their dolls were replaced on this evening with a late-night concert, starring
As I watched my daughter and her friend sing into their mics like little pop stars, it hit me at that moment that a battle was looming on the distant horizon—a battle, mind you, that would pit a concerned mom against a culture bent on robbing her daughter of her girlhood. How ironic that less than a decade later the pop star on that CD cover would become the poster child for all that can go wrong when you grow up at warp speed.
That day I only saw my own little girl and her friend standing on the banks and dipping their big toe in the water. The current was slow moving; and, though they appeared somewhat curious about what lay beyond, their feet were still firmly planted on the bank. Two years later, at the age of twelve, she would make the dreaded request to put her dolls away. Up until that
“Are you sure?” I asked, hopeful she would change her mind. “What if one of your friends comes over and wants to bring her doll?”
Without hesitation, she confidently declared, “Mom, we’re twelve now. That’s not going to happen.”
I don’t know what stung my heart more: the signal that the doll phase was over and out or the reminder that she was, in fact, twelve and one year shy of officially being a teen. And so I began the difficult task of neatly packing away her dolls, doll clothes, and doll furniture in sturdy, plastic storage bins—sensing at the time that it signaled the close of one chapter and the beginning of another. I tried desperately to stifle my tears as I shoved the bins onto the top shelf in her closet. I reasoned that their new home was far superior to the hot, stuffy attic and much more convenient should my daughter change her mind and decide to release her dolls from their plastic prison. In my heart I knew the top shelf would likely remain their permanent home.
Packing her dolls away was minor in comparison to packing her belongings and moving her into a dorm more than eight hundred miles from home six years later. Where did the time go? It seems like she hardly noticed the transition from little girl to tween, tween to teen, and teen to young woman. Oh, but I did. And I did my best to make sure she relished each and every season. Proudly, my daughter was ten going on ten, sixteen going on sixteen, eighteen going on eighteen, and transitioned confidently into young womanhood. A good majority of girls her age left the shallow banks of girlhood far too soon and were swept along by the fast-moving currents of the culture. And unfortunately, many had bumps and bruises to show for the journey.
Many of you reading this find yourself where I was when I was packing away the dolls. One day your daughter is very much a little girl, and the next day she is showing signs of restlessness. Others of you perhaps are breathing a huge sigh of relief that you’re not there yet. Enjoy the days you have, and don’t rush your little girl to grow up. Fight for every moment of her girlhood, and don’t allow the culture to get its foot in the door. Perhaps others are reading this, and your daughters are being swept away in the current. You desperately want to throw them a lifeline, but you’re not even certain they would reach for it. You may be thinking, Too little, too late. No! Don’t give up that easy. In fact, let me give you this hope: You are the great and mighty gatekeeper when it comes to providing your daughter with a much-needed umbrella of protection. In other words, you have the power to say “yes,” “no,” or “wait” when these influences come knocking. If you haven’t set parameters in advance, it won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible.
If I had to pinpoint one common denominator that is commonly shared among girls who grow up too fast, it would be this: a set of parents or a parent who, for whatever reasons, stood by on the shoreline and allowed their daughter to wander in too deep. Many, I dare say, even cheered their girls on as if there was some sort of prize at the finish line.
Excerpted with permission from 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter, Revised and Epanded Edition by Vicki Courtney. Copyright 2019, B&H Publishing Group.
For mothers with girls newborn to eighteen, Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter Revised and Expanded Edition is simply a must-have book. Youth culture commentator Vicki Courtney helps moms pinpoint and prepare the discussions that should be ongoing in their daughters' formative years. To fully address the dynamic social and spiritual issues and influencers at hand, several chapters are written for each of the conversations, which are:
- You are more than the sum of your parts
- Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up
- Sex is great and worth the wait
- It’s OK to dream about marriage and motherhood
- Girls gone wild are a dime a dozen—dare to be virtuous
The book is linked to online bonus features offering invaluable tips on having these conversations across the various stages of development: five and under, six to eleven, twelve and up.