I recently caught a tweet from a blogger for the Mommy Effect Magazine thanking various strangers who have influenced her children with positive advice. It reminded me of a lesson my daughter learned on the responsibility of parenthood at the tender age of four.
We were visiting my Mom in Quincy, Massachusetts from Florida. My Mom, daughter and I were approaching a bench at a bus stop. Seated on the bench was a teenaged girl of no more than fifteen years. She had a stroller carrying a little boy less than two years old. My Mom and I were in the middle of a discussion. My daughter marched ahead and plopped herself down on the bench, right next to the teen. She asked the girl if the baby was her brother. The teen told my daughter that the boy was her son and started to talk about how hard it was to raise the boy with no job and a boyfriend who ditched her once he knew of the boy’s impending arrival. My instinct was to pull my innocent child from this conversation, but my Mom kept talking and I could not get a break.
The night we got home from our long-weekend vacation, I tucked my little girl into bed as I always did. She hugged me and started to cry. She asked me to ask God not to give her a baby because she still wanted to play with her dollies. She took away from the teen’s lecture that she too could not afford to take care of a child or give it nice things and she did not want to ruin a child for that.
I assured my daughter that God would not give her a child until she chose to have one and that no one could make her have a child without her approval. No mechanics were mentioned. I just made sure she understood that she had control over having a child and that the teen did not use her control.
I never had to worry about my daughter being sexually active during her teens. She had already set a goal of being the best parent ever – by waiting until she could afford to give her child the life her dad and I gave her. This meant college, then a good paying job; a marriage, then a baby. Thanks teen, wherever you are! I hope things went well for you. Your words were of immeasurable significance.