Too Much, Too Soon?
Every parent wants their child to have everything first. Be it material or social, parents want their girls to have everything they did not as a child, times three. But parents need to take pause: too much too soon can be harmful to a girl's emotional and even physical development.
Remember when you could plan a tea party for a birthday or a craft day for playgroup and all was well? It's all changed so much now. Your girl sees what's going on around her, in her real life and in the media, and she wants to hop on board. Today's girls push for more social advancement more than girls ever did before. From the above-mentioned coed sleepovers, to dating, to what time curfew should be, today's girls want more than they truly can handle. And some parents, for fear their girl won't be “popular,” give in to what they feel the rest of the parents are allowing. Here's an idea: if all parents tried to stick to rules that are reasonable and safe, all girls would not feel the need to push for more.
Host a coffee or potluck dinner with your daughter's friends' parents and try to come to a group agreement on things like curfews, party rules, and expectations. If most of you agree, your lives will be easier. For a while.
Your daughter is going to be assaulted by social images. Think Lindsay Lohan in a bar as a teen, or the Olsen twins out clubbing as young girls. It's your job to show your daughter why that is not right, and why you're holding her back from things like under twenty-one nightclubs (until she's eighteen anyway) and heading out to concerts in limos without adult supervision. Sure, she'll say everyone else is doing it, but you don't care about everyone else. Remind her: the time will come for her to do such things and when it does, it will all be exciting to her, instead of old and boring.
And what of middle school semi-formals and dinner dances? Parents should consider working against such “grownup” events that set the stage for more “grown-up” activities. It is just as easy to plan a field day, with games, food, and music. Try to keep their social events age appropriate, even if it means pushing back against some other parents. And if you can show your daughter and all the other kids her age that fun can be age-appropriate, you'll be doing everyone — not just your own child — a favor.
It's the plain truth: as smart and kind as your teen daughter might be, she is not mature enough to handle some independent situations she may find herself in if you allow her too much freedom too soon. Let's say you allow her, as a high school freshman, to go on a one-on-one date in a car with a senior boy. You like the boy and trust him, and you know your daughter has good morals. But leave them alone in a car and she may begin to feel pressure that she is not ready to deal with. She may act a way she's not wanting to for fear of rejection; she may take part in something she does not believe in just to be accepted by an older, cooler crowd. Parents can help a girl avoid that by waiting to allow her to be in such a situation until she's worked her way up via boy-girl group events, dates with boys her own age, and lots and lots of talking with you (even if she resents it). Put aside your pride at her being asked out by the hot older boy and put forward instead her own emotional and physical need to be protected. The time will come. Too much, too soon can never be taken back, and if you do let her have too much freedom too soon, she could regret it for a lifetime. Slow and steady.