If forced to name a movie title that best describes my adolescent years, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” would probably take top honors. Seriously, if Dante were depicting hell in 1966, the scene would be played out in the Farmington Junior High locker room with a gym teacher who stood sentinel over damp towels and kept track of our menstrual periods with a red ink pen and a dated journal. Contrary to what junior high boys imagine, it is most definitely NOT a pretty sight.
One summer I went to church camp and spent the week struggling somewhere between the intense spiritual awakenings that were happening in my soul and the mental confusion of deciding who I was. In my cabin were several other girls just like me, gawky young teens who had thunder thighs in shorts and swimming cap hair at the end of the day.
But then there was Jennifer. Her suitcase was full of amazing things none of us had ever seen, let alone used….tanning lotion, a Lady Schick razor, tampons, a padded bra, a bottle of Chanel #5 cologne. She wore matching Bobby Brooks short sets and got up early every morning to be sure her lip gloss of the day was color-coordinated. She was graceful and charming and even witty. But best of all, she had a boyfriend named Rob.
Every morning we all stood around Jennifer as she applied nail polish to her toes and brushed her shiny hair. We giggled and cooed “Oh, that is sooooo cute” as she put on an ankle bracelet and “You smell yummy” as she dabbed perfume behind her ears. We stared out the window when we saw Rob, with his dreamy smile and piercing eyes, coming to the cabin. We sighed as we watched Jennifer go out to meet him, the cabin screen door slamming shut behind her. It might as well have been slamming shut on our lives, we thought.
When I look back at those times, it is uncomfortable and even painful. I survived, but barely, and still wear many of the emotional scars that came about simply by being a girl whose rites of passage were marked by many Jennifers, perfect girls whose skin and very lives had no pock marks.
It wasn’t until I grew up and became a mother and started thinking about my own childhood that I realized something….even Jennifer probably struggled with feelings of inadequacy and self-acceptance. I am certain that Jennifer grew up and probably married someone who wasn’t Rob and now has children and grandchildren. And she probably still struggles some days with thoughts of who she really is.
As bad as it was for me and my friends, I believe girls growing up in the new millennium have new pressures and influences that we never imagined.. The perceived importance of movie stars and music icons grows as media access is at our fingertips. The openness of perversion seeks to and accomplishes the goal of breaking down the God-given barriers that once protected our children.
As parents, we are in the precarious position of preparing children to live within such a culture while at the same time protecting and coaching them from making life choices based on what is popular within that same culture. Unless we live in ivory towers, even as homeschoolers, our daughters are exposed to the same pressures and temptations, even when they sometimes come from other Christians. It is a constant challenge for us.
Now, I contend that this assault on our daughters has a parallel within the culture of homeschooling and over the next few days I will be sharing some of my concerns about raising homeschooled daughters. I look forward to your thoughts.