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April 17, 2013

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It IS a tough situation when you want your kids to be valued for who they are, and you don't want them to give the impression that they are something they aren't. We went through it with the girls AND the boys! Slightly different issues with the boys, but there just the same. Your girls appear to be pretty level headed. You will all get through it, but it won't be easy. You'll have to learn to embrace the grey hair it will give you...but you will get through it.

Oh, I gotcha! Mine are more grown, but I have memories. This may help. Back in the day, my oldest (who had her own money and lived with her dad on and off) told me in no uncertain terms that she could SO wear that black bustier to the teen dance; she bought it herself and her dad didn't mind.

I told her the sorts of things you are saying and recommended that she wear a jacket over it.

She came back from the event in great distress and said, "You were right , Mom" (don't you love those words?). She took off the jacket and got all the wrong sorts of reactions and felt so scuzzy that she put the jacket back on, buttoned it up and left early.

Lesson learned.

Good luck, Steph - you're a good Mom, I can tell - and your girls are so lovely and wonderful. You'll do well. Just hang in there.

There's so much here that resonates with me and I have two boys so I will be facing different sides of that coin. (mine are still in the single digits) but this paragraph stood out for me:

In a world where the man gets blamed for objectifying the woman, the woman needs to make damn sure she's not objectifying herself or the blame is half misplaced. I saw a singer once, on stage with he breasts and crotch barely covered by her skin tight dress ranting about the objectification of women. I wondered if I was the only one who saw the contradiction. Teenage boys are fighting their own intense battles of hormones, identy, and what integrity and honor mean for them. It would be amazing if every young lady could honor both the boy and herself by honoring her body and not making the road they both travel doubly hard by confusing true beauty with premature sexuality. Winning his desire is not the same as winning his honorable adoration.

I think we as women do add to this and don't notice the contradiction. We blame cosmo for objectifying women or airbrushing and even if men are running those magazines, women are buying them. I think this is tough to navigate for all of us and even more so at that age when you're growing into who you are learning your own boundaries and finding your own voice in the world. I think your kids are lucky that you're trying/caring at all. That you're honorable and do follow your own values. I think the most important thing to do as a mom is to walk the talk and to be there for them non-judgingly. (just my opinion of course) and it sounds like you're doing both.

I am lucky - I am a stepmom. I can say and do things that would get a screech of protest, had RealMom said/done them. And i have always been open, up front and honest with my stepdaughter. We went into that same lingerie store when she was 13. she asked me if she could buy a thong. i said in my nearly loudest voice - "YOU WANT THONG UNDERPANTS?? OH HELL NO. WELL, LET'S CALL YOUR MOM AND ASK" And that was the end of it. we left with nothing. i won't help them prosper. but stepgirl always knows that i will give her a straight answer. and every morning i send her a text that says "you are perfect - now go show the world what perfect looks like." she just graduated college, and i adore her still. she is living with us, and i explained to her that she is in charge of her own decisions, but i need to know when she'll be home at night if she goes out - "when to start worrying." and she's respected that. kids will always default to what they saw growing up - remember the first time you said something to your kids that your mother said to you?

Don't forget until they are 18 u do set the rules, thats the way it is end of story and someday they will be saying the same thing to their kids! My dtr is stricter than i was rt now with her 5yo little girl! What was shocking to me was when each of my ponies turned 18 and the realization that according to the law in this country they were all of a sudden adults! And each of them made sure i knew this, believe me that they are no more adults at 18 than when they were 15! It is a crazy world, so exert your control because u will have none when the ponies are18! P.S. my dad was crazy strict about clothing, so i used to stuff my little halter top in my backpack and change after i left! Aloha, angi in hana

What I learned during my journey through "the teenage years", is to be consistent. The day I wanted to stop fighting was the day I tried harder. I am not saying my 2 sons and a daughter were perfect...no, they had their share of mistakes. But what I can tell you is that today at the ages of 27, 29,and 39 they are an asset to our society. Which I am SO very proud of. Sometimes as we are talking, they we will say the exact same thing I said to them so long ago and my heart soars. Because, you know if I said "I told you that years ago" we would be right back to those "teenage years"! You have a big hug coming!!!

beautifully said stephanie! I cannot speak to daughters because I have a son, but I do know that it effects men as well. the only thing I can say is that you keep on loving the shit out of them and pointing out their amazing qualities that having nothing to do with their outer beauty. from what I read here and I don't know you other than what is written here I think you are doing a damn fine job. you can only control what you think, what you say and how you handle it. you cannot control what other people are going to think, but if your girls prance around with confidence. respect and love for the world that will shine through so brightly. I am proud to say that my son who is now 22 sees right through the girls who are looking for love in all the wrong places and he bravely speaks the truth. he will tell his friends that they are beautiful just as they are - inside. he will ask them how they feel when they are wearing certain clothes. what is the message you want to send to the world? I am fortunate that through all my guidance and despite some "speed bumps" he came out on the other side with values that make me smile from ear to ear. my heart goes out to all those children who all they are seeking is love and safety. hopefully someone will reach out to them and guide them or they will happen upon a beautifully written piece like this and open their eyes to the real beauty inside themselves. thank you stephanie! have a wonderful thursday! ciao!

From a mother of 4 (3 boys):
1- My oft repeated motto when the boys were young: Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you have to do it.
2- Mistakes can be effective learning tools. Nothing paralyzes clear thinking more than the fear of failure when one hasn't learned how to recover and reassess. I think parentlng includes knowing which mistakes to allow and which more serious ones to avoid.
3- Respect (for oneself and others) is much harder to give, earn and keep than that hormone-riddled quicksand called love. :)

Enjoy the ride!

You are an awesome mother and example to your girls. I think that sometimes speaks more loudly than anything you or anyone else is saying.

I suspect you will not get the answers until they are older. Until then...I wish you all the luck-I can not imagine how hard this is.

I think if your girls display even half of the wonderful characteristics you describe then you are way ahead of the game. They may flirt with these trends and fashions in clothes but they are who they are and will always return to their true selves. They are teenagers it is their job to push boundaries. As for the judgements of others in your community if they are unable to see past the exterior then perhaps their opinions are of less value? I have raised girls and boys and it can be a real minefield but you have set solid guidlines and instilled fantastic values and the reward for that is the self realisation your children will have in the not too distant future. Keep your head above water - and just keep paddling ....

Well said! How we clothe our bodies sends a message much as he plumage of a bird does, and we need to teach our children to recognise that . . . and that sometimes the message is not what it seems. Our boys need to know the girl in a low cut, tight-fitting dress is not saying "I'm available" she might be saying "I'm uncertain and I'm trying on this persona." Girls need to know that not many boys have that much control over their hormones to think logically when faced with thighs and cleavage and sexy dance moves!

Your girls sound delightful . . . they must have intelligent, loving parents.

Really thought provoking post. . the way I see it, a culture can objectify/fetishize a woman's body with more clothing (Afghan women and the burqa comes to mind), or with less clothing. Then there are cultures where women (and men) wear next to nothing at all and it just is the way it is and has nothing to do with objectification or sexuality. So, I guess to me it isn't about more clothing or less clothing but rather raising girls and boys to be independent, respectful thinkers, to challenge their own cultures, and dress the way they choose.

oh SHEEEESH, my memory banks are overflowing! one girl we have, 29 now, i read your formal gown apparel note on fb, and it hit me in the guts!
with what you started your post off with, about your great ponies...those are the important things to you that have happened and they've taken in and embraced most of the time. GOOD JOB LADY! xo
i remember thinking...oh, so this is just what mothers tout when they say "pick your battles"...that was a good one for me steph, because when i shut my mouth those few times, i got another chance, better timing to come in sideways, giving my UN-lecture! ;)...our little bird most always responded like i hoped, timing can be everything. and richard, had a famous secret saying, between we two..."it's time to reel our girl in before letting out any more line for a bit"! we tried doing this without her knowing it was even happening and i'd like to think it worked! if you EVEN care to try and make em' the best they can be...everything seems like your heart and mouth knows just what's cookin'...when to turn up the heat, when to turn it down and having the wisdom of not ever shutting that open communicative door! xoxo

What a beautiful message of heart,love,compassion and reality you have given all of us. Your daughters are very fortunate,as are you. There is a fine line between edgy self expression in clothing and fun self expression. My Mother and I would go to the mall (we lived in San Francisco) near our home and every (EVERY) time we went by Victoria's Secret she would comment (loudly because she was semi-deaf.. she was in her 90s at this time) "Why do they want to wear that? It doesn't cover anything! Don't they get uncomfortable?" People would nod, laugh, look at her all possible reactions and we would laugh. Sometimes for fun I would shade her eye on the side next to the store and tell her "Be brave, we are walking next to the scary store." We had so much fun. What used to be called "soft porn" is out for view, and as you mention if you see something often enough and it is marketed well it has perceived value. The joy of young womanhood comes with a responsibility that kids don't necessarily notice or appreciate. Your values and boundaries are so important and your grounded appreciation of your girls and society are balanced. Your young women are very fortunate. Life is so precious and every phase flits by quickly.
I agree that what you wear creates a reaction in your society and there are consequences to everything we choose to do, including wardrobe and attitude ( I think those two go together). Best wishes to you and your family.

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