When Ainsley was younger, I suppose I was more naive and optimistic about my powers as a parent. Now that she’s nearing nine, I have the benefit of getting used to the idea of my own powerlessness.
Of course, I have a great deal of influence in her life and over activities she participates in, media she’s exposed to, that sort of thing.
But, there is a great deal about her self and her life that I am ultimately powerless over. It’s like when your baby is born and you’d always intended to have a blond baby and out she comes sporting bold black or red hair. For some reason, you weren’t expecting it and don’t really know how to respond.
I find in myself, and in conversations with other mothers online and off, that a lot of what we hold to be true as mothers is framed in our own personal experience as girls.
For instance, I got my period when I was 12, had to beg for a bra so I wouldn’t be the only 7th grader in the locker room without one. That was also the year I began shaving my legs, wearing make-up, pierced my ears, curled my hair and was devastated because I wasn’t allowed Liz Claiborne perfume and a Guess watch. Being 12 was HUGE in my own personal coming-of-age experience.
Yet, a generation later, girls mature faster. Lots of things go faster, change faster, develop faster. Cursive may, in fact, be obsolete as my 8-year-old just bought her own pink 7″ mini computer with money she’s saved.
Puberty is happening faster in white girls by several years. As a mother, it has taken some getting used to that idea. We don’t know why. Scientists, doctors, researchers don’t know why. I’ve researched and reported on it a lot on The Girl Revolution, mainly in an attempt to understand how to prevent this from happening to MY child. Yet, all the sudden – as I come face to face with the reality, some things don’t seem to be relevant anymore.
What happened when we were girls – personally or collectively – is irrelevant.
As a group, generally girls want to stay inside the norm. If the norm changes, but you keep up with it, you’ll probably make out okay. So, if you’re the ONLY kid in your class who doesn’t develop a few years earlier this generation that is probably the occurrence that will be emotionally and socially damaging. To develop earlier than your mother, but at the same rate as the other kids in your age-range, will be the most comforting pace for most girls. Why should SHE care when YOU got boobs?
I wasn’t allowed to have a phone in my room. There was altogether too much privacy in that idea. Yet, I’m probably going to give Ainsley a cell line within the next several months. It makes sense TODAY.
Frankly, I didn’t expect this yet. But, I have yet to make any headway in stopping it, holding it off or reversing it. Some things, I’ve accepted, are beyond my control. One can eradicate BPA’s from the home, eliminate hormones in milk, reduce exposure to media, visit physicians, and pray a lot and still, one must surrender to the fact that parents don’t control their children’s physical development.
It really is irrelevant that I didn’t need a bra till I was 12, that I didn’t start my period until after 6th grade, that I didn’t use deodorant or shave my legs until 7th grade. It really doesn’t make any difference to HER experience. I’m positive my parents made these decisions based on the culture we lived in – a predominantly Mormon one, in which this was also the timing of most of the other kids.
What matters in her experience is what other kids are doing now, what is safe and healthy, what she’s emotionally ready for, what the desires of her heart are and what is currently socially acceptable today.
This is her life. Her development and her experience. My job is not to determine the timing of the experience. My job is to support her through whatever her experience turns out to be. My job is the same as every generation of mothers and only the timing is different – to pass on Feminine Wisdom.
Tracee Sioux is a Law of Attraction Coach at www.traceesioux.com. She is the author of Love Distortion: Belle, Battered Codependent and Other Love Stories. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.