||We are starting our second year homeschooling our first grader. I am concerned about the persistence of "mature" behaviors I see in her. These include such things as asking to wear makeup, talking about nonexistent "boyfriends," wanting to listen to "cool" music, etc. We don't have television and screen videos and music carefully, so she isn't getting this at home. Much of this started when she was in school, but I have hoped it would fade away. Now I have my doubts. I have been wanting to start going to daily Masses hoping the extra graces would help us all, but she "hates church" and so I have been hesitant to do this. She has some wonderful Catholic homeschool friends, but they don't live very close to us and so we only see them maybe a couple times a month. The children in our neighborhood are not Catholic or homeschoolers, and I'm sure a lot of this is coming from them... but she is an only child (so far!) and so I feel like I should let her play with other children as often as I can. I would not mind at all driving her to see these other homeschooling families we know, but they all have several children and I don't want to intrude on their own routines.
It is my own fault I am afraid...when she was younger I was in school and working and did not devote time to developing this...is it too late?
I want so much for you to know one important fact. It is never too late to begin to change disturbing behavior. I am so uplifted by your concern and your resolve to remedy this situation in your family.
It would seem that perhaps your little girl may have learned some behavior patterns from other children, that are indeed disturbing. It is a great sorrow that society wants so vehemently to rob our children of their innocence and their purity and ultimately their childhood.
I do think that forcing the issue of daily Mass may not be the answer at this juncture. Attending Mass with quietness and a desire to worship once a week is far more fruitful than arguing with children about daily attendance. That was surely the wisdom of the Lord that brought you to this conclusion. However, there is no reason that you should not go to daily Mass, if you can work this out. That may not be possible at this point. Children are constantly observing us, their parents, with a keen eye. They are literally soaking up our behavior. More importantly they are storing things that are even more subtle, such as our reactions, inflections, and our implied feelings.
When boyfriends come up in conversation it is important that your daughter know what is appropriate in simple terms. Do not act shocked or disgusted. Give your opinion plainly. "I think that it is silly for little girls to even talk about having boyfriends much less wanting one." "I would imagine that little boys feel the same way about little girls who want boyfriends." "Children should learn to appreciate each other as friends through friendships that are fun and interesting." "Girlfriends and boyfriends are for persons who are much older and are getting ready to be married one day."
After you have stated your opinion, ask her for her opinion. Listen carefully and try to understand her meaning of boyfriend. This boyfriend talk is so unnecessary for children. However it seems that some parents and certainly society think that it is "cute." I strongly disagree with it and have let my children know.
Makeup. What can I say. My youngest daughter has been playing with makeup for a long time. I say playing, in every sense of the word. I wish I could show you all the clothing and linens that have been ruined with a stray tube of lipstick in the dryer. :) She has all older sisters. She has watched with keen interest to their putting on makeup. Naturally she wants to imitate what she sees. I do not purchase makeup for the girls. They must use their own monies for this. As a result there is very little makeup in the house. The most that can be found at any one time is usually a lipstick. My daughter finds it. So far her interest is harmless and certainly not anything I would worry about. However I see what you see in young girls who use makeup in ways that not only look gaudy but questionable. Here again I think that a mother's duty is to let her young girls know what looks appropriate and what does not and why.
Music. Do not purchase music that you do not want your little girl to listen to.
As far as friends, it has always been my policy, that it is better for friends to play at our house. I am better able to monitor the activity.
Again I do not think that it is ever too late to work through these problems. Praise God that they have arisen now when your daughter is so young. Please do not blame yourself. Furthering your education and working to provide for your daughter are admirable qualities. This presents a good role model for your daughter. Now use this same dedication to effect positive behavior in your daughter. Remember that the Lord will honor our desire to bring our children closer to Him. We will have at our disposal the strength of the Lord and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Keep praying and keep thinking positively about your daughter. I admire your resolve and have decided to examine my own behavior as well as the behavior of my children. Thank you for your witness and your letter which has opened up many areas of interest, I am sure, for other mothers who may be reading. Keep up the good work.
Dear Jesus, we ask that You give us the courage to stand against those who would wish to take what is not theirs to take. The innocence and purity of childhood is priceless and a treasure well worth fighting to protect. Give us the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to act in such a way as to send a clear message to all those who would rob our children of this gift. Show us the words and the actions that will change hurtful behavior in our children. We love You, dear Lord. Amen.
Sending out a prayer,