After a long discussion with a group of parents regarding our middle school children, I came to a realization. The kids don't seem to be as concerned with their popularity as much as their parents do. I also hate to admit that it seems to be a "mom" thing, not necessarily a "dad" thing.
We were talking specifically about 6th graders. They were all so worried that their children were so advanced, and couldn't seem to figure out why. I sat in amazement and silence as I heard these quotes, "the texting goes on at all hours of the night - I can't take it", "my daughter goes to these parties and is obsessed with the boys", "they went to the movies as couples, but I was there to drop them off and pick them up, so I know nothing happened".
Hmmm, you wonder why they're so fast. I finally spoke up. "You really wonder why your kids are so advanced - Really? Why are you hosting boy/girl parties? (the first response was that they're friends) The boys and girls aren't friends in 6th grade. And if they are, foster the friendships in school. They don't need to be friends at bon fires at night, barely supervised together. You're just encouraging them to push each other into experiencing more than they're ready for."
Dates to the movies - dropping them off? What? They're 11 years old. You're crazed about the texting? Why do they have a phone? They're 11. Have you all lost your mind? Why do WE keep pushing them into things earlier and earlier.
After my 5 minute rant, I was met with silence. Then defense. They all looked at me like I belonged back in the 50s.
Shortly after, we all kind of dispersed - I really know how to liven up a party. But that's when something funny happened. I was approached by three different women separately. They all had very similar comments. They wanted me to know that they completely agreed with me and my desire to keep my daughter innocent as long as possible. They all thought the boy/girl parties were too much, and that they knew kissing (at the very least) was happening at these get togethers.
So why the silence? Why the lack of support? It came down to one reason. They were afraid if they agreed, their child wouldn't be invited to the "in" parties anymore. They were afraid to go against the women that organize all these bashes and outings for fear of ostracizing their child.
That's our society in a nutshell. If the parents are afraid to speak up for what they believe in, and what they know is right, then how on earth can we expect our children to?
I know I didn't make my child any more popular that night. I'm OK with paying for her therapy bills later, because I know I did the right thing, and I know I'm raising a strong daughter that isn't going to compromise her values just to be accepted.