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March 29, 2006

Comments

spudmomof6

It's important to share your wisdom with your children, as well as your humanity. However, I agree that specifics are private, with perhaps a few appropriate revelations at critical times for our children. When our children know that we have faced the same pressures and temptations, and (eventually) overcome them, they can hope that they can do at least as well. In dealing with my own teenagers, it's always helpful to give them strategies that allow them to make good choices without always losing face with their peers. They are always free to use the "My parents would (insert most scary thought) me if they ever found out I (insert bad action)" to give them a good reason to refuse to participate, and they always know that we will come and get them anytime, anywhere, no questions asked.
As far as the mommy track goes, I can tell you that my physics degree has been useful in the following ways:
1) It gave me a career choice that enabled me to support my husband through med school;
2) It gave me the research skills to be an informed, articulate citizen;
3) It came in very handy when my kids were at the 'why' stage;
4) It has enabled me to successfully homeschool a couple of extremely bright sons (like the 12 year old in Algebra II;)
5) It has helped me keep up with my husband's work so I speak like a peer among his colleagues.

Even though I 'retired' from employment 18 years ago, I have never felt that my education was wasted. However, I am now counseling my own daughters to make career choices that can be set aside for a few years or switched to part time or free-lance in order to better accomodate motherhood. I know too many women who wish they had learned to become music teachers, interior designers, and such when their current skills are only able to be used in a 9-5 corporate setting.

lauren

I don't know, I think I agree. I feel that children really don't want to know about their parent's sex life, they really don't.

There has to be a way of guiding children where they can see you truly value what you're telling them, without having to get into the details.

L.B.

At the same time, spudmom, parents should be careful not to steer girls into flexible, often low-paying careers simply because they are female. I was encouraged to become a teacher so I would have summers off with my children--but I have no interest in becoming a teacher, and I probably won't have children.

Not all women are destined for marriage and babies. Even some of those will become widows or divorced single parents and need a means to support themselves and their children.

Back to the point, though, sometimes I wonder if children are destined to rebel against what their parents teach them, unless those children grow up in an environment where there are no other options, and the only way to raise children who believe in modesty is to completely shelter them from mainstream culture. I'm a cynic, though.

anon

As I read the letter from "Modest Again" I was getting all fired-up to give my opinion -- but then I read Wendy's response and all I can say is, Ditto. This happens to me a lot! :)

So I guess I would answer a: "give your children vague but true answers--'I made some bad decisions before I met your father' but don’t get into specifics."

But I would also add that the image or map that your children have of you is something that is constantly evolving. That they see you as perfect when they are 5 seems to be important but they will learn over time that you are not perfect and that map of you will evolve some more. So evasiveness when they are young can lead to more disclosure, if appropriate, later on.

One last thought. I think that a lot of times we feel like we can't tell kids to not do something that we did ourselves for fear of being a "hypocrite." It was such a bugaboo term for the baby boomers but I usually think that what most people call hypocrisy is just people learning from their mistakes and not wanting their children to make them too. That isn't hypocrisy it is actually wisdom, in my opinion.

I have to disagree with Lauren. My mom was open with me about her own failures and mistakes in all areas of life. From her I really learned about the emotional consequences of premarital sex. At a time when I faced pressure, her stories, her encouragement and her past openness with me, helped me to turn to her for guidance and support. It is a wonderful gift to give to your children. And who would you rather they took advice from? You or their peers?

Erin Palazzolo

What a great letter and worthwhile conversation! I am 26, single (but dating a wonderful man), and I haven't yet experienced the joy and trials of marriage & motherhood. But I hope to:)

I agree with Wendy about being open and honest with your children, but also drawing boundaries that are important to preserve their well-being. My future husband will know about my previous relationships, but that's not something I'm going to describe in detail to my children. They will know about my courtship with their father, but they will not need to know how each date was spent. The question I suspect I will ask myself is: What is best for my children? Not what is best for me (to get off my chest).

The question of education/hi-powered careers for women & if this can infringe on their modesty is a good one worth more exploration. I don't see things as black & white in this area, but women need to be encouraged to respect their intuitions and not seriously compromise their values in the workplace whether their career is "high-powered" or not. I graduated in the top of my high school and college classes and pursued a Master's degree. I am Still unsure of what comes next and am Still discerning a good fit for my career. I'm learning the best thing I can do is be honest with myself -- strengths, limitations, preferences and all. I'll want to encourage my daughter(s) to study and work hard, cultivate their passion/talent, and make ambitious but realistic decisions regarding their career. Of course all the while praying for God to help them along the way with their vocation, whatever it may be:)

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