After I said she couldn't go, I felt bad. I have to tell Sweetheart today that she was invited but isn't going. I have to explain why---well, I don't HAVE to, but I will. How do you explain to a 12 year old all the complex reasons that her Dad and I understand, but she likely will not?
It hurts to do things differently than others. I know so many children Sweetheart's age who go and do tons of stuff apart from their family. It seems in other families that by this age, really...she "should be" more independent.
But we are a family. We are her parents. WE are responsible for her. WE are called to teach, protect, and raise her. I know that doesn't mean she can't ever leave our presence! But it does mean we must use wisdom in who we let her spend time with, where we let her go, and how much we let her be away from the rest of her family.
|My beautiful Bee--photographed by H-Mama.|
The problem is, I don't buy this whole "independence thing."
I first ran across this when Sweetheart was 8 (our first year of homeschooling) and she was in a homeschool Girl Scout troop. Overall it was a good experience. But then I found out that the end of year camping trip was one which parents were most assuredly NOT invited. I wasn't comfortable letting my 8 year old go an hour or 2 away from home with only a few adults who I didn't know all that well in charge. So I volunteered mid-year to be a leader. It was a pain in the neck, but it allowed me to go on the camping trip with them. The camping trip where 20-30 little girls slept in a cabin all by themselves in 30 degree weather. (And the older girls were in cabins by themselves too.) The adults all slept in a separate cabin.
That was all fine, but it was the explanation I received from one of the leaders that concerned me.
"Parents aren't allowed to go camping with them because our goal is for them to learn
to be independent of their parents."
Hmm. See? That's wasn't one of our parenting goals. Don't get me wrong--I understand that one day our daughters will grow up and move out. They may get married. They will not live with us forever. I know this. But is independence the goal?
|Little Bit and Sweetheart enjoying the water.|
A friend posted on Facebook the other day about her baby still waking up several times a night. Of course everyone was telling her in the comments to let the child cry it out. One of her friends said, "It's the first step to teaching them independence." Really? A 9 month old baby needs to start learning independence?
Even if you think a baby doesn't need to learn it, most people think at some point a child needs to. I know many people think that a girl needs to be on her own a few years before settling down. She needs to go to college. Get her own apartment. Have a career. Go on trips. I don't know what they think. But I would be perfectly happy for my girls to go straight from our house to their husband's home. I went to college. I had an apartment. It was kind of lonely. I felt unprotected, honestly. I was homesick.
Now this isn't to say that we will have our thumb on them until they walk down the aisle. A child can remain living in their parents' home AND have a job, go to college, etc. They can live as a young adult in our home, and still be a part of this family. I have visions of Sweetheart attending college, and then also helping with the dishes after supper. Not because she'll get grounded if she doesn't (!) but because helping with the dishes is something you DO when you are part of a family.
And then when/if our daughters get married, they will be a part of a new family with their husbands. They will be a part of a church family. I don't see a whole lot of "independence" in the life of a Christian. We have fellowship with one another. We are called to be part of a family.
Does this mean it is wrong for a child to move out on their own? Well, I think the answer might be different for boys and girls. Call me sexist, it's what I think. But no, I do not believe it is wrong for a girl to move out of her parent's home. I just feel it isn't all that necessary most of the time and certainly not imperative.
So the question is, how to raise daughters who do not grow up believing their rights are being violated. How to keep their hearts from rebellion. How to keep them from feeling hurt/left out by our decisions that go against what we see around us. It's much easier when you have like-minded families around. I have several friends who I know would have turned down this same birthday invitation had it been for their daughter. I don't feel crazy--I'm just worried about how our girls will feel the more our path seems to deviate from the norm.
The thing is...this birthday could just as easily be celebrated with families. That's how I hope for my girls' parties to be--families coming together to celebrate. Isn't that how it would have been done a really long time ago? When did things change? When did 12 year old girls start being independent from their families? Is that healthy?