*Deep sigh* I had several difficult conversations with my daughters this week. Some were difficult for me. One was difficult for them, but the common denominator in all of them was that they happened in the car after school during the long drive home.
I will admit that more often than not, the drive home is not focused on them. It is probably a continuation of work, taking phone calls, checking texts or emails in school parking lots. Or, it is more focused on, “What’s for dinner?” or an impromptu stop at the store or the teahouse. I generally gloss over the “How was school?” portion, accepting their “fine” and “good” as acceptable answers and move on, but last week was different. Each day presented one issue after another. Miss Double Digits and the Diva both had situations at school that caused them to be concerned about themselves or others.
Both of my girls have come home with stories of what their peers have been experiencing, and it was some heavy stuff! (Parental Note: School administrators were notified of all situations and they were handled.) So far this school year, Miss Double Digits has seen a student bring alcohol to school and consume it; a student use a lighter in class as a joke; and even a student who was caught vaping in the bathroom. In the meantime, Miss Double Digits got busted (by The Diva, no less) for having illegally downloaded Tik Tock on her phone. Yea, that happened.
The Diva had questions about morals and ethics (i.e. leaving the tag on a new shirt so you can return it to the store) which was a surprising conversation. And on a more serious note, she recently witnessed a female classmate get sexually harassed by male classmate on an elementary school field trip.
The things our children are having to deal with… My God! I pray for them and their experiences at school, having good teachers and friend circles, and protection from hurt, harm, and danger. But, that’s never enough. I literally had to ask God to intervene on my behalf when talking to my children about every single issue. I wanted to give them my wisdom while telling them the truth about this world in which they live. It took everything in me not to cry.
I have been talking to the girls about finding their voice. I want my kids to be brave, strong and empowered. They should feel and believe that what they have to say matters, and it is important. I am especially concerned about them having the courage to speak up when they feel uncomfortable, threatened, and harmed in any way. Thankfully, in all of those situations, they did feel comfortable. They spoke with teachers and/or administrators about what they saw and heard and about how it made them feel.
I know every parent is different. There is NO parenting guide out there that can prepare us for the conversations that we will have with our kids. All we can do is love them unconditionally and prepare them for the world as best we can; protect them from the things that we know will harm them and pray for the rest; and provide a safe environment for them to speak freely and not feel judged, even on the long drive home.