Friday, March 8, 2013

Elementary Activities: Keep 'em young as long as possible

By Deborah Pace Rowley

This week has been Spirit Week at my daughter's elementary school. The first day was character day. She went dressed as her favorite book character "Fancy Nancy." See photo above. The photo below was from pajama day.

Isn't she cute?! Remember that this is my baby who isn't so little any more. She is growing up so quickly. Too quickly. I am grateful for one lesson I learned when my oldest daughter was about Katie's age. I had gone to see Linda Eyre, the creator of Joy School and author of many parenting books with her husband. She talked about one rule that she felt would help us navigate the difficult teen years successfully. "Don't let them become teenagers!" she joked. Then she continued, "I am partially serious. Keep your children young as long as possible. Nurture their child-like side. Don't push them to grow up!" My sister-in-law modeled this attitude as she encouraged her 13, 14, and 15 year old daughters to continue to play dolls and horses and other imaginative games. It seemed silly and immature at the time, but overtime I saw them grow to become confident, mature and beautiful young women and eventually mothers. I certainly saw the opposite approach all around me. Mothers buying their pre-teen daughters thongs and t-shirts with provocative sayings such as "I'm sexy." Mothers encouraging their elementary school daughters to have boyfriends. Mothers taking their pre-teen daughters to Twilight and Pink concerts. Mothers buying their 12 year olds push up bras. It was crazy then and it has only gotten worse. Why are mothers doing this? Why are they pushing their young girls to enter the perilous waters of teenage life early? What do they hope to gain?
As for me, I am following Linda Eyre's advice and keeping my youngest little as long as possible. I want to enjoy this fancy Nancy as long as I can!

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