Monday, April 18, 2011

Parenting moment

You never know when they are coming. Those times when life seems to hand deliver a moment packed full of opportunity to teach, to guide, to parent. Yesterday was one of those moments for me.

My oldest daughter is a bit of an entrepreneur. Over the weekend she ran her own yard sale on Saturday, and then a lemonade stand on Sunday. In fact, as the lemonade stand seemed to be stalling she and her friends began to take it door to door. At the end of the day she had actually made quite a bit of money, and she and the next door neighbors would end up splitting the profits.

Somewhere toward the end of the day, another boy came over to play. Without replaying all the details, it appears that he was pretty impressed by the amount of money she had made. And he felt like he wanted some of it. So when they were alone, he put the pressure on. My daughter resisted at first (I only know the details because we found out later), but eventually caved and gave the boy a $10 bill.

So where do you go with that as a parent? Some might downplay it. Others might run down the street and strangle some kid (haha, I have to admit I thought about it!). I think it was a divine moment for me and my daughter. Here are a few of my thoughts.


As far as I know, this is the first time she has ever faced big time peer pressure. But this is a specific type of pressure isn't it? This is the first time that a boy has pressured her to give him something. And unfortunately, it probably won't be the last time a boy puts the pressure on. And THAT makes this moment so important. It's also why I would gladly pay $10 for this learning experience. The conversation we had afterwards was priceless. Parents (especially dads!), I'm convinced that these seemingly small moments when our girls are 7 are the key to having 17 year olds who are confident, strong young women who have discernment and the ability to stand up for themselves. And these conversations set the stage for an open, honest dialogue with your kids as the conversations continue over the next 15+ years.

I'm certainly not a perfect parent, and I have much to learn. But I have had the unique opportunity to work with hundreds of teenagers over a 10 year span. There is a clear difference between the girls whose identity, value, and sense of self worth come from their fathers, and those who are searching for it elsewhere. My daughter needed to hear from her dad yesterday that it is ok to say NO. She needed to hear that she should never have to give in to the pressure of someone else. She needed to hear that she has the strength and the ability to stand up for herself and to be confident in doing so. She needed to hear that what that boy did to her was wrong and she should never settle for it.

Parents, don't ever pass an opportunity like this up to guide your kids, to walk with them through their thought process, to talk about their fears, the decisions they made, and how they feel afterwards. Role play it with them, talk about how they could have handled it differently, ask lots of questions. Resist the urge to rescue them and to make it all right. I know that feels like what we need to do sometimes, and maybe at times we do, but there is such value in these moments. You won't always be there. And you won't always be able to fix a situation. But if we teach our kids discernment, and we teach them wisdom - they won't need to be rescued next time.

What about you? How would you have handled this? Have you ever had a situation like this?


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