Allowing the Little Bird to Test Her Wings

A few years ago, we sat by while our son Rocky dated a sweet young gal he’d known for years. Like him, she was homeschooled, and like him, she went on to the local university. She was an impressive young girl whom any parents would want their son to date – and marry. But throughout her senior year in high school, her parents gave her mixed signals. Signals that ended up having troubling consequences.

The girlfriend’s parents gave her a car, a cell phone and a laptop, and they allowed her to get a job and take classes at the local high school. In other words, they gave her many freedoms. Yet, they put very tight (and in my opinion, unreasonable) parameters on all her comings and goings. She was not allowed to spend time at our house at all, because of the risk that she might be alone with our son (being alone with a boy was never, ever allowed). In fact, she couldn’t even be alone with him in a public place. If they went to a movie or out to dinner, they had to bring other friends or a chaperone along.

These rules were imposed upon her even after she moved into the dorm for college. It was confusing how the parents intended to enforce the rules, but they made it very clear that those were the rules they expected her to follow.  It was as if they put her in a cage, but left the door wide open, daring her to fly out.

Her method of dealing with this nonsense? She lied. She was a good girl and set very high standards for herself. She worked hard, did everything expected of her, and was very chaste with her boyfriend – our son – but she DID sometimes spend time with him alone.

We watched on the sidelines while this girl’s relationship with her parents deteriorated because they would not allow her to grow up nor did they trust her. Or one might observe, they did not trust the young women they had raised her to be.

In the end, she lost her head a little bit in college and during their last year there, she cheated on Rocky and lied about it. She had developed into a very good liar, and he believed her conflicting stories, until one day he came upon some painful irrefutable evidence. That was the end of the relationship, and needless to say, it’s taken him a long time to get over it.

My point in bringing this up? We are now walking the same path the parents of the girlfriend were walking not so long ago. We have a daughter who is a senior in high school. Little Daisy. She has a cell phone, a car, a laptop, a job, and she goes to the public high school. She is involved in sports, other activities, and has a very active social life. She currently does not have a boyfriend (Hallelujah, anyone?) but has dated some in the past and will surely do so again.

It is a scary thing to allow your young, beautiful daughter to go out into the world, a world fraught with alcohol, drugs, car accidents, and of course countless young men who are surely thinking about none other than having sex with YOUR daughter. But out into that world, she must go. Hopefully, a few cautious steps at a time.

We know for a fact that some of Daisy’s friends in high school drink alcohol. We know for a fact that some of them do drugs regularly. We know that several couples are having sex. We know several kids who aren’t part of a couple, but who are still having sex. Thankfully (oh God, how thankful we are) Daisy tells us these things. She’s quite open about who does what, and surprisingly, she tells us what she’s interested in doing and what tempts her most. I know she doesn’t tell us everything, but it’s enough, and I’m thankful for it.

I hope she’ll choose not to do these things, because let’s face it, at nearly 18 years of age, it’s her choice. Sure, we could lock her up and police her constantly, but I’m here to tell you that if she wants to do it, she’ll do it anyway. I was locked up and policed by my parents – I was even put into an all-girls school in 9th grade, but guess what? I partied with the best of them and lied and sneaked my way through my high school years.

We think we raised Daisy right, but that’s no guarantee. I know she has a good head on her shoulders, but at 17, her brain isn’t even close to being fully mature. At this point, we’ve done nearly all we can do. We’ll stay alert and continue to parent as we slowly pull back and she slowly pulls away. And we’ll do much of it on our knees, praying that she’ll stay on the right path. Because at this stage, it’s all in God’s hands.

But then, that’s where it was all along.

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