Single Parent Faith

Monday, April 11, 2011

Teens- They Really are Listening

“Pass down values every day through your actions, your words and your time with your kids.”
~ Robert Frank

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My 17 yr old daughter has a lot of guys who are showing interest in her. She’s been working out in the weight room, so of course they are watching her. The first thing they notice is her outward appearance. Some just linger there and never bother to get to know what’s in her head and heart.

Ever since she was in elementary school, I’ve had talks with her to forewarn of superficial guys.  She’d ask me “How can you tell?”


“Well, for one thing they won’t ask you questions to get to know you better. They will always comment on your appearance, and will rarely if at all notice or compliment you on your many other qualities.”

I’d also tell her to watch their eyes, “If they’re not looking at your face, and instead looking at your body, then they’re only interested in you physically.”

We spent many times throughout the years talking about this subject. I'm amazed at how many teaching opportunities there are in everyday living. In fact, in a student’s world, there are exponential occurrences to draw from. She brought home countless stories of guys at school who either made lewd comments or behaved disrespectfully toward her or other girls. I remember a time in junior high, when she went to school dressed rather casual and without   flat-ironing her hair, as she typically wore it. This kid took one look at her as she entered the classroom and exclaimed, “You look like SHXX!”

Thankfully, she takes after her dad’s quick quips and blasted, “Well at least I don’t have to look that way every day like you do!”

These are not the moments to be spiritual and seek the higher ground. Unfortunately, a lot of kids are cruel and will say or do whatever their bully selves think they will get away with. What surprises me is that guys are proportionally much crueler to girls than girls are.

In her freshman year English class she met (we’ll call him) John, a sophomore, and they hit it off as friends. The friendship was mostly in the classroom, though they texted after school and weekends.  Typical of high school, they lost track and stopped texting sometime after class ended for the year. Recently, he started texting her and she invited him to go to church with us. He came and afterwards we went out for dinner.

Afterwards John told my daughter “I hope your mom liked me.” My first impressions of him were good, but of course me being the adult, I know that only “time” reveals the true character in us all. What a person demonstrates in their behavior cannot lie. One meeting does not provide enough information, however it can reveal flags. Depending on the severity of the flags, one meeting may be all one needs.

The following day, John texted her and wanted to “hang out.”  We already had plans, so I reminded her of this, and she responded to him “maybe next time.” The next day, he again tried to see her, but she’d already made plans days earlier with her girl friend. It was spring break and they were looking forward to going to the movies. To my daughter’s credit, she didn’t dump her friend to make room for him in her schedule.

Astutely, my daughter noticed, “I’d like to see him again but he’s being a little pushy, mom.”

A month prior, she experienced a guy who was obsessed with talking, texting, and showing up everywhere at school. “At first it was nice getting that attention, but it was too much! He was constantly texting me and if I didn’t text back right away, he’d keep texting Hello…Hello.”  It turns out he quickly got back with his ex, when he noticed my daughter was not returning his texts.

So on the heels of that, her antennas were up for any behavior that remotely appeared obsessive.

Two weeks after spring break, while eating lunch with a girl friend, she ran into John and a girl he appeared cozy with.  Shortly after lunch, he texted my daughter, who then responded,  “Why are you texting me? Why aren’t you texting that girl you were with?”

“What was I supposed to do? Every time I tried to see you, you were busy.”

“You’re pathetic.”

“Why?”

Silence………no response.

When I asked my daughter about this, she shared, “Really? He couldn’t wait? How desperate is that?!”

These are the moments as a mother, when one realizes that one's child has actually paid attention even when she appeared not to— and absorbed what I've tried to impart over the years. I am so proud of my daughter for loving herself enough to place healthy boundaries in her relationships.  I am thankful that we began at an early age, the countless hours of dialogue and sharing of “my lessons learned,” to equip her with the knowledge I didn’t start out with. In a world where the realities of abusive and unhealthy people exist, it’s imperative that we arm our children with skills to detect that behavior— what it looks and sounds like. You can’t start too early.  


Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved.


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