When my only daughter was 11, I knew it was time for “the talk.” Yep, that talk. The one conversation I have dreaded since my little girl ran around in tutus and pigtails. But I also knew if she didn’t hear about sex from me, she’d hear a distorted version at school. It was time to bite the bullet.
After talking it over with my husband, I booked a hotel in a town a few hours away, scheduled a Friday off work, and invited my favorite girl to experience a Passport2Purity weekend. She was thrilled. Not about being trapped with me discussing puberty, hormones, and where babies come from (spoiler alert: it’s not the stork), but she was totally on board with a girls’ trip. And shopping. I vaguely remember promising new clothing.
When the day came, I was pretty excited too. Again, not about stumbling around this awkward topic, but about having a fun weekend with my favorite girl. This was an important moment, and I felt ready. Until we left the driveway, that is.
We kicked off the weekend an hour behind schedule. One of the steps to planning your getaway in the tour guide is actually “Make sure to begin on time.” We were not off to a great start. That was my first clue this weekend would not go as planned.
Our destination was three and a half hours away. We managed to make it there in six thanks to a missing hairbrush, quick trip to a grocery store for itch cream (mosquitoes are huge in the South, by the way), repeated stops for chocolate, and completing a couple of the activities along the way. But I am happy to say we had no flat tires, I did not run out of gas, and she did not bolt from the car after learning more about the purpose of the trip. I’d call that a win.
My daughter and I had talked about purity before. Apparently, I did a horrible job. She didn’t know much about the term, and about halfway to our destination, I could tell she was getting nervous about some of the things we would be talking about. Me too, kid. Me too.
But … the activities provided in the Project Kit were a good icebreaker from the awkwardness. One thing I have learned from my kids is that visuals go a long way in making a point. I wouldn’t have thought of using play dough to explain to my daughter the importance of choosing “good” friends. The big lump of ugly dough at the end of the second activity drove the point home: “the people you spend time with will influence you and even change you, for good or evil, so choose wisely!”
On Saturday, we completely threw the itinerary out the window (no, not literally). Our hotel room only had one tiny pack of weak coffee. That’s not enough to get me ready for an entire day of talking about sex by 8:30 a.m. (that’s the suggested time to start on Saturday). To be honest, after eating our leftover desserts from the night before, we left the hotel around 10 that morning to hit the outlet mall next door.
After a couple hours of shopping, my daughter started feeling sick. We went back to the hotel room for her to rest, so I figured I’d jam in some of the sessions during that time. Our conversation around my decision went something like this:
Me: Hey, let’s listen to a couple of sessions while we’re here. Wanna skip the song? Let’s skip the song.
Daughter: No, I don’t feel like doing this right now.
Me: Well, we have to finish this up. This was kind of the point of the weekend, ya know.
Daughter: I don’t want to.
Me: You’ll listen to this session and you’ll like it!
Note to parents: No, in fact, your child will not like it. No child (or adult, for that matter) enjoys talking about sex with their parents.
After we listened to Session 4 (that’s the big one), I pulled out the set of matches I brought to do the next activity. In that moment, I realized it would probably be better not to light matches in a hotel room, so we skipped that too. Besides, the look on her face told me she needed some time to process what she had heard. Understandably so.
On the way home the next day, we wrapped up the last remaining audio sessions and the tension in the car was lighter than it had been before. We joked about the awkwardness of it all, and she wondered which of her friends were in the know. From what she told me she had heard at school, it seems they didn’t have much correct information. And it made me wish I had done this a year earlier.
Because we were far behind schedule (Remember that dang itinerary? It turns out it had a purpose.), I didn’t give her the necklace I purchased until we were nearly home. Amazingly, we made the trip back in four hours.
After our perfectly awkward weekend
Our weekend didn’t go at all as I had planned. We had setbacks and uncomfortable moments. But in the months following, I started to see what God planted that weekend take root in her heart. As issues with boys, dances, dating, and friends came up over the next few months, an amazing thing happened. My now 12-year-old talks to me about all of this awkward stuff.
Dating and sex may be many, many years down the road, but having this weekend together to tackle the hard subjects opened up a level of communication we didn’t have before. Sure, we’ve always had a pretty tight bond, but now she knows she can trust me with the uncomfortable stuff. I’m not going to laugh (most of the time), berate her, or try to avoid the topic. Because nothing should be an unapproachable topic between a parent and child.
Moms and dads, let me leave you with this. Yes, your weekend will have uncomfortable moments and things will not likely go as you envision it. But it’s in situations such as these that help solidify the relationships we have with our kids not just now, but as they grow into adults. It’s these moments that are awkward, sometimes scary, and maybe a little bit funny, that let our kids know we are there for them no matter what. That we can handle the scary, the awkward, and the gross.
Maybe the real purpose of Passport2Purity doesn’t happen over the weekend away. The real purpose and blessing behind it is the relationship and trust that deepens over the coming months and years because you chose to show your kids just how important this topic is to you. So, if you’re the parent of a tween-age child, bite the bullet. If you aren’t the one guiding these conversations with your child, who will?
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