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I Know It’s Difficult, I Live It Myself

From a talk with my eldest. With her permission. Because teenagers need to know that they’re not alone.  Another bonus of NFP…it makes it easier to promote chastity and abstinence to your children.

I noticed the other day that you were listening with rapt attention to the girls at the pool as they talked about boys.  I saw you scoot a little closer when they spoke of their boyfriends and kissing.  You didn’t say a word.  You didn’t have to.  I saw your eyes.I know that they are fascinating, that the things they are discussing are completely foreign to you, and yet you want so badly to know more.  They were talking about dating as if it were the most normal thing in the world for them.  It was like a foreign language to someone whose friends aren’t allowed boyfriends or dating.  Those sweet home-schooled girls you hang out with get mushy over the idea of holding hands with a boy, but never have.  These girls have gone much further than that and they are younger than you.  I know that your innocence makes you feel like a baby in these conversations.  I know it because I was that girl once.

I have seen the way you look at the boy who lives across the creek.  I think you have good taste.  He’s a good guy.  I know that those experienced younger girls tease you about him and ask if you’ve kissed him.  I know that even though you believe in courting instead of dating, there’s a part of you that really wants to know what it is to kiss a boy. I can see in your face the longing to know what they know, and you’re beginning to wonder for the first time if your father and I aren’t setting an impossibly high standard for you.

I get that married people telling a teenager to be chaste is a little like a skinny girl telling you that those size 2 jeans could be yours if only you gave up sugar and carbs as she munches on a chunk of cheesecake. It’s easy for us to say because we don’t have to live what we are asking of you.  I know it sounds that way, my dear, but you are wrong.  We do have to live that way. We know exactly how much we are asking of you because we have to live it ourselves.

We have discussed birth control and all of the reasons it is wrong.  You can look around our house and see that we don’t contracept.  Seven babies in 16 years makes that pretty apparent.  Have you ever thought about what happens when it may not be a good time for babies?  Like right now. Your sister is sick with the double whammy of a chronic illness and an horrific accident. We are exhausted from the care of her, and money has gotten scary tight.  While your dad and I are always thrilled with new people, this would be spectacularly bad timing for adding anyone new to our family.  We would, of course, love anyone God sent to us, but this moment is a really rough one.  So what do we do?

You and I are kind of in the same boat, sister.  It is not a good time for either of us to be having a baby.  What does this have to do with kissing?  Kissing has a purpose.  It is the beginning of the path that starts the fire that ends 9 months later in the delivery room.  Your dad and I know this, so we don’t even go on that path.  We have learned that once it’s started, you can’t ever quite put that fire out.  When you and your siblings go to bed, we sit up and talk, watch TV, futz about on the computer, or watch movies.  We have to practice the same self-control we expect from you.  Only, my cute boy doesn’t live on the other side of the neighborhood creek, he lives in the same house, and sleeps next to me in the same bed.  (And I’m not talking about the peck I give him to say good-bye or hello.  There’s  kissing and kissing, but you knew that.) Self-control and self-denial are hard to learn and even more difficult to practice.  Your dad and I are still working at it.  These things can take a lifetime to learn.

When you get to the place in your life where babies would be a blessing and not a burden, you will be so glad to be able to discover all of these things in a context of joy without tinges of guilt or fear.  It is not always easy to live correctly in a world that doesn’t.  Prayer, determination and someone to talk to can help you do it (or not do it ….) Just know that if you need to talk, I am here, and I do know how hard it is, because right now, I’m living it, too.

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