Those words floated above my head like a plastic bag caught in a wind gust. They spun in the calm breeze for several minutes before being carried away by the harsh winds of truth.
“I know she’s only nine,” said my wife, KayEm. “But your daughter has started puberty.”
“What do you mean she’s started puberty?” I asked. In my mind, puberty was something that happened to girls much older than Nee. After all, I read Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret when I was a kid and Margaret was not nine years old.
In a calm voice, KayEm described, in great detail, all of the ways that my little girl was transforming into a young lady. I sat dumbfounded because I was unprepared for this information overload. Although I wanted Nee to remain a little girl forever, Mother Nature had other plans.
Earlier this year, Nee and KayEm attended an event at our church called Girl Gab. Girls in grades 3-5 spent a weekend discussing important issues in their lives such as building strong relationships with family and friends, dressing modestly, and how to cope with their changing bodies.
While I applauded the event, I saw it as the Cliffs Notes for the real lessons that KayEm and I would teach her when she was old enough.
Unfortunately, the “day when she’s old enough” has arrived sooner than I expected. It is only a matter of time before KayEm and I will have to have “The Talk” with Nee. She has started asking questions that prevent us from putting it off any longer. As that day approaches, I am overcome by feelings of nervousness and loss.
I’m nervous because I want to make sure that my wife and I present Nee with information in a way that she understands and that is in line with our beliefs. On the other hand, I don’t want her to be naïve to the realities of life. I know that she will feel strong pressure to engage in premarital sex. Our culture has sexualized everything and kids are growing up faster than ever. It is my role as a parent to give her the moral and spiritual foundation necessary to cope with the pressure and temptations. In addition, my wife I have to teach Nee about ways to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases without implicitly giving her permission to have sex. It’s fine line to walk.
I also mourn the loss of the innocent little girl that I rocked to sleep so many nights. Pretty soon, she will be a teenager and before I know it, my daughter will be a woman.
But no matter what the future may bring, she will always be daddy’s little girl even if I have to buy her a training bra.
Join the conversation: How have you dealt with your children’s reaching puberty?
Photo used by permission via Flickr Creative Commons