Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dear Teenage Girl...

Dear Teenage Girl,
The one who is staring at my teenage son. He's adorable isn't he? Tall, nice hair, strong chin. Great smile. You are thinking of ways to start a conversation, wondering what he likes or doesn't like, wondering if he likes you. You want to get his attention.

Here is where it gets messy.

Media, culture, the music you listen to, possibly your friends have taught you that the way to get his attention is by getting him to notice your body. You might wear your shirts too low, your pants too tight, or your dress too...everything. Without even thinking about it, you have listened to society and not only given my son permission to objectify you, but actually objectified yourself.

There are mothers who will look down on you. Call you names. See your pictures on Facebook and demand their son "unfriend you" because they don't want their son looking at those pictures or relating to those girls or...whatever. I'm not that Mom. I'm more aware than that of the pressures and messages you and my son get every day, all around you. I am not going to be just one more person who judges or objectifies you. I am aware that no matter where my son is, there are images he will have to see and he has to learn to look beyond them to the man and person he wants to be.

I will tell you that as awesome as my son is...and he is awesome...he is not worth you doing that to yourself. I will tell you that the time you spent wondering if you are as pretty as the other girls, if you are pretty enough for this guy or that guy to like you, and if your clothes make you look fat isn't worth it. I will tell you that the worry and fear of measuring up that causes you to despair...even to the point of not eating, throwing up, and hurting yourself is not worth it.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to the girls around you. Give each other permission to dress in a t-shirt and jogging pants if you feel like it. Celebrate who you are. The brain and talent you have is what defines you...not the cleavage. There are those that will tell you that dressing in revealing clothing and showing that much of yourself is "freeing" and flying in the face of convention...that it is what it takes to be a strong, independent young woman. That's a lie. And a trap.

My son has grown up with certain values. Some of those I have taught them. Some of them were influenced by other men in his life. A good many of them he developed himself...sometimes as a result of having a sister that he loves very much. He has discovered that he can look at each girl as someone's sister and he will treat each girl like he wants his sister to be treated. He made a choice long ago to abstain from sex until after he is married and he has stuck to that. He actually had a girl break up with him because of it! My son will respect you. Listen to you (well...most of the time). And treat you well. It'll help if you watch The Walking Dead...then you will have something to talk about. I will welcome you into our home and along with our adventures. Feel free to be yourself. But value yourself. If my son lets himself and me down and disrespects you, fails to live up to his principles, or isn't acting like the man he hopes to be...walk away. It's the same for any boy or man you date. They do not define your worth. You do. And when you value yourself, you inadvertently demand to be treated with value. Not in a loud, obnoxious way...but by every action, word, and attitude. Be confident in who you are. My son is definitely more likely to want to date you. But more importantly, you are more likely to be happy with yourself and your life.

A Mom

PS My son and his sister are very close. If you treat him wrong, he isn't likely to tell me about it. But he will definitely tell her. And she will most likely tell you how she feels about it. Just something to keep in mind...

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