I know that parents are all over the board when it comes to this subject, I see it in our young girls daily. I know many of you will disagree with my conservative thoughts on this subject, and I am perfectly fine with that.
Last week I took my 9, almost 10-year old daughter shopping for a new swim suit. So I’m sure you can figure out where this is going already… Lydia is somewhat of a Tom boy, and doesn’t really get into getting all dolled up, wearing the perfect outfit, putting bows in her hair, wanting to wear makeup, etc. She is perfectly happy in comfortable clothing, mainly athletic type wear. However, not all of her friends are the same. And some of them have older sisters which increases their exposure to more adult type clothing.
I have kept her out of bikinis and other skimpy clothing up to this point, and it hasn’t been a fight at all. She didn’t really seem to care. But now we are starting to come to a struggle with it as she gets older and is exposed more to it. The day before we went shopping we had been to the pool and she took a friend with her, who wore a fairly skimpy bikini. So when we went shopping she started looking at bikinis. I have told her in the past that I don’t feel that she is old enough to wear one. But this time it was apparently at the fore front of her mind after seeing her friend in one the day before. I steered her towards other two piece suits that were less revealing and provided more coverage. She tried them on and seemed ok with one we ended up selecting , although she voiced that she liked the bikinis and wished she could have one. After trying on half of the suits in the store and agreeing on one, we headed to the register to purchase the suit. I looked over and she had tears in her eyes. I proceeded to ask her what was wrong, to which she responded “nothing”. Being a mom, I knew there was more to it. When I asked her if it was because she wanted the bikini suit, she said yes and had more tears in her eyes. The young woman behind the register overheard our conversation, and asked if it was due to modesty. I replied “yes”, and she turned to Lydia and said “One of these days you will thank your mom for this, I know that I do mine.” Though I didn’t feel guilty for standing firm with my beliefs, it was somewhat reassuring that this young lady dealt with the same feelings, and now understood why her mom stood firm.
After we left the store I explained to Lydia why I was against her wearing a bikini. I told her that when we wear things like that which show more of our body it causes other people, especially boys and men, to look at us differently. And although that might be ok when we are older, that it isn’t appropriate at 10 years old, and that I was only looking out for her best interest. I am quite certain that this in no way made her feel better, but at least she heard from me that I wasn’t just trying to be a mean mom, but that I had reason behind it.
After we left the store I continued thinking about it. And thinking about the way I see so many young girls dress. It saddens me to see so many young women dressing like adults, and in many ways, wearing things most adults don’t even wear. I recall the time soon after I got divorced when I noticed Lydia’s tan lines from the swim suit that she apparently had been wearing at her dad’s house. I remember being mortified that at 5 years old he had her in a bikini. Seriously. That is how you want your young daughter to dress? That is the impression that you want to give others and the way you want them to look at her? Given the events that had happened in our lives it certainly didn’t surprise me that the depth of the issue wouldn’t cross his mind, and that it wouldn’t be a big deal to him. We clearly had different ideas on many things. And I am certain that there was an adult female influencing her dress as well. At any rate, it wasn’t something that I agreed with, or a manner in which I would allow her to dress when she was in my home.
Our young women have their entire lives to dress, act, and look like an adult and wear revealing clothing and swim suits. Why on earth would I want to encourage that behavior at such a young age? I know that some people think it’s cute to have their toddler in a bikini. But I for one do not. I think we push our children to grow up way too fast, and be exposed to things long before they are emotionally ready to handle and understand them. I may be conservative, but I want to preserve the innocence of my daughter as long as I can, let her just be a kid. I know the day that I will no longer be able to control or preserve it is fast approaching. The world is a much different place than it was 30 years ago when I was her age. There is so much more focus on sexuality. I see no reason to push her into adulthood any sooner than necessary.
10 days from now she will turn 10. Each year that goes by I know that her youth continues to pass. I look at her today and realize that she is growing up, and changing in so many ways. The past several months she has begun to really mature, and I now have to look at her as a tween, no longer a child. Many years ago she wanted to get her ears pierced. I told her that she was too young, and she could choose to have them pierced when she turned 10. So guess what we will be doing very shortly?! Yep. Quickly moving from my little Tom boy to a tween. And quickly making this mom begin to feel very old. Especially as I approach the final year in my 30’s in the next few days. Time seems to have flown by so fast the past couple of years, it seems that I blinked my eyes and now she is all grown up. As much as I would love to keep her young and innocent, I look forward to seeing the young woman that she will become. And I hope that she will carry my values and things that I have taught her as she embarks on her adult future. For all we can do as parents is teach them values, love, respect, and life skills, and hope that we have done our very best.
Right now I will focus on her innocence, and not the fact that I soon will be hitting a milestone birthday. That I will do my best to forget!