When I was 10 years old, I didn’t have a care in the world. I could play outside with no worries and no parental supervision. In fact, I could leave in the morning and go to Canada as long as I was home before the street lights came on. I’m sure my mother worried about my well-being and safety, but she never had to contend with the things that parents have to worry about today.
In the year my daughter, Nee, was born, there were 6 school shooting in the United States and they made me question the wisdom of bringing another child into this world. Now that Nee is 10, the world is a more dangerous place and there are many more things to worry about. These are my top three:
1. Puberty – According to an article in USA Today, girls are hitting puberty earlier than ever and doctors don’t know why.
About 15% of American girls now begin puberty by age 7, according to a study of 1,239 girls published last year in Pediatrics. One in 10 white girls begin developing breasts by that age — twice the rate seen in a 1997 study. Among black girls, 23% hit puberty by age 7 (http://www.usatoday.com).
Although Nee has seen the “puberty movie” and my wife and I have had the sex talk with her, it’s still hard for me accept the fact that my little girl will be turning into a young lady soon.
2. Entertainment – When I was 10 years old, my entertainment choices were quite limited. I could watch 7 channels on my family’s black and white TV (the only TV in the house), play my handheld football game, or go outside and ride my bike. My daughter has access to hundreds of channels on TV, video games on her Nintendo DS and Wii, thousands of songs on her iPod and millions of websites on her laptop. I struggle to find shows, websites, games, and music that are appropriate for her to consume. Although my wife and I screen Nee’s media options, we can’t shield her from everything. Nee has become a big Katy Perry fan and she loves to belt out a rousing version of Firework. She also loves iCarly. While I’m not a big fan of Nee’s choices, I guess there are worse things she could like.
3. Clothes – Much to my dismay, Nee has discovered Justice and it is now her favorite place to shop. I find many of their clothes to be inappropriate for girls of any age. Thankfully, Nee values modesty and chooses her clothing accordingly. But finding modest clothing is nearly impossible. The majority of girl’s clothing is cut short and tight. I get angry when I see racks of clothing that are way too mature for the little girls that they are marketed to. I hope Nee is never enticed by the “I want to be sexy” hype before she is old enough to understand the ramifications of sexiness. To combat it, I will continue to instill that value of modesty. Hopefully, my influence will trump the marketers’.
But the thing that I worry about the most is that Nee will stop being “Daddy’s Little Girl.” Soon she will be a teenager and hanging out with Dad won’t be so cool anymore. Until that day, I will stop worrying and enjoy the moments we have together.