The Right Parenting Skills to Raise a Girl?
From kissing lines to oral sex, how do we keep our girls grounded?
-Julie Ryan Evans
When I was in high school we had something called kissing lines. They were bizarre, really, when I think back. The buzz went around school as to where they would be happening – typically at a park or out at a lake. Then carloads of high school students would arrive in the dark, form two sides (boys and girls), and at some signal that I don’t recall, you just moved forward and kissed random people. Sometimes you knew who they were, other times you didn’t, but they were pretty much full-on make-out sessions, not just pecks. It usually meant nothing beyond that night, and you just went back to passing them anonymously in the hall the following weeks.
It probably wasn’t the most sanitary or virtuous of activities, and I’m sure parents would have been horrified to hear about them, but it was pretty tame, really … especially compared to what’s apparently going on in schools today.
I’ve been haunted by the title of a book, ever since I saw it sitting on the bookstore shelf: Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss. Its content is even more disturbing. Author Sharlene Azam has published a book and a documentary that go behind the middle-school scene and reveal a shocking trend in middle-class girls who are trading blow jobs for things they want – from clothing to homework help. And they’re not embarrassed or ashamed, because to them, it’s no big deal. Some of them are having sex with as many as seven men in a single night.
“They are the prettiest girls from the most successful families,” is a quote from an expert on the author’s web site http://www.thenewgoodnightkiss.com. “Your daughter’s best friend is recruiting her right out of your house, right under your nose,” says Detective Randy Wickins of the Edmonton Vice Unit.
“It’s quick, it’s easy, it doesn’t take a lot of space,” one girl giggles while describing oral sex in a clip from the documentary. Another tells of “oral sex parties.”
Some say they do it for attention; they want a male figure in their life, they want love, they explain. “You’re almost a little star in your own little world,” one explains. Some just say they want the easy money to buy the things they want – designer jeans, brand-name purses.
But none of them seems remorseful.
“The girls were okay talking about giving oral sex to a number of boys – they didn’t stumble with the words or appear shy or ashamed,” Azam explained when asked about getting material for her book. “The reason they speak about it unflinchingly is because it has become as benign and as acceptable as kissing. This is what our culture has become. Think back to the ’80s when girls would blush when talking about their first kiss. We are way past that point with blow jobs. The real question is, “What’s next?””
Indeed, what could be next?
From kissing lines to blow jobs and prostituting one’s self is a big leap, and what a scary, demeaning leap. How have things changed that much?
I look at my beautiful, innocent little girl, and I’m flat out terrified. I feel such a strong responsibility to her and so inadequate to meet that responsibility, because I don’t know what the right things to do are. As soon as I found out I was having a girl my heart raced right over the thrilling thoughts of dance lessons and miniature Lily Pulitzer dresses to the reality of raising a girl.
I can love her, give her attention and instill in her the values I’d like to see her embrace, but is that enough? Really? I’m so scared of making mistakes that will lead her to making some really big, tragic mistakes someday.
There are so many pitfalls, so many temptations out there that are pulling our little girls away from the strong, confident, powerful women they should be – the internet, Hollywood, fashion advertisements, drugs, each other.
And while today’s world is scarier than ever, there always have been and always will be temptations. So in the end, it’s got to be about raising someone who is strong enough to stand up to those temptations, no matter what they are. To see stars’ behavior and priorities and know they’re not what she wants for her life. To stop before sexting a compromising picture of herself. To not have unprotected sex. To know that her worth isn’t in how she looks and her ability to attract men.
How to instill that inner strength and confidence is where I panic. How do you deflect that desperation to be noticed, to be loved … by someone other than your parents? Sports? Religion? Strict rules? Love? Is any of it enough?
I have a son too, and I know I have a job to do with him as well to ensure that he respects women, that he treats them well, that he’s never one of those who’s buying a girl a pair of designer jeans in exchange for a blow job. But somehow (perhaps naively) I’m not as daunted by that task.
Perhaps it’s because I remember being a teenage girl, and despite my parents’ best intentions, I know that it’s taken me most of my 30-something years to develop the strength that I think I would have needed in my teenage years to say no to some of the crazy temptations out there today. I was lucky, I think, that kissing lines were among the biggest temptations. Had I been presented with more – more to shock, more to get the attention and love I craved – I don’t know/don’t think that I would have been strong enough to say no. And that scares the hell out me.
So tell me, how are you raising your girls? Do you have a plan? What has worked, what hasn’t worked? And really, even if we do things right, can our girls still go terribly, terribly wrong?
Read Julie’s last blog, “Vegas, No Baby.”