I Know It’s Difficult, I Live It Myself

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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.

Rebecca Frech

Rebecca Frech

Rebecca Frech is a Cradle Catholic who came back to the Church in 2000, and thanks God for it every day. She lives just outside Dallas with her husband, the brilliant Computer Guy, their 7 not-quite-perfect children, and an ever-multiplying family of dust bunnies. When she’s not teaching math, neglecting housework, or reluctantly training for a marathon, she’s blogging at Shoved to Them.

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9 thoughts on “I Know It’s Difficult, I Live It Myself”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you to you and your daughter for sharing your wisdom on this very important topic. I will remember your great words when I have to give this same talk to my daughter! Many Thanks!

  2. Avatar

    What an honest and clear article. It is great to know that a mother like you is still learning how to live this interesting life of self denial and discipline. I know how this feels like when I hear others talk about the opposite gender especially, when I was in the university. Struggling to be pure whiles other colleagues of mine have not only kissed countless girls/women but have even gone beyond that. Sometimes I wonder how would a real kiss feel like. You know in our African communities kissing and pecking and such stuff is strange and not seen as part of our cultural upbringing. Hmm.

  3. Avatar

    A truly wonderful message! I’m really glad I came across this post. This is really helpful for parents who are taking care of young teens–and that includes me. I love the way you put these feelings in words. It’s very well written and very easy to read. Thank you so much for sharing this. 🙂

  4. Avatar

    I think it’s also the responsibility of never married older adults who have committed themselves to not having sex before marriage to encourage young people in this regard. We too know something about self control.

  5. Avatar

    I like this.

    I’m tired of people who say that single people can’t do anything at all or else they are ruined for life, but married couples aren’t capable of even the most basic levels of self-control. (Some Protestants have views of sex in marriage that make the secular world blush-and not in a good way.)

    The best example you are giving your daughter is not just that you have to abstain for a time, but that you and your husband can maintain a healthy, loving relationship without having sex for a time. Although married chastity is not the same as singles chastity, even while abstaining, you are still showing your daughter that it is possible to be in a close relationship with someone you are attracted to without having sex.

  6. Avatar

    Thank you for this article! Sometimes I do feel like a baby when other people are talking about boys or I have a friend who has done it. It makes me uncomfortable the way they talk about their crushes. I feel like grade schooler… Your words are comforting! It’s good to know I’m not alone. 🙂

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