Lately, I have lots of weddings popping up.  I watched these kids grow up.  Yesterday, they were 3 years old and learning unlimited amounts of vocabulary....and today....they are grown up and getting engaged.  Wow....where has the time gone?  Where was I when this was all happening?  How often do you ask yourself this same question?
     Now, you may think that this is a happy occasion...and in most cases it is....but in some cases it is not.  How sad in those particular cases.
     I find myself wondering, what does it take to make a girl/young woman become so insecure that she will marry someone who is disrespectful of her?!  I worry about a few of these brides, as do their parents.  These brides were happy, rambunctious children who always had opinions to go around.  It was a joy to listen to their ongoing debates about life.  They seemed to have lots of ideas and appeared to be very confident.  They were ambitious and eager to get on with their lives and careers.  They are all educated and ready to serve the world with their new talents.  But, a few of these brides have one thing in common:  They met their fiancees and all of their confidence went out the window.  Oh, I know that this happens to men too.  But, in this case, it is the brides whom I know and am addressing.  What happens to these women that they lose confidence in the remarks of those who love them and instead take to heart the insults of the men who they are about to marry?  Maybe better question is, what made them fall in love with someone who is condescending towards them?  More so, did they ever really have confidence in themselves in the first place or was it all a smoke screen?
     I am not a psychologist.  I am  sure that there are psychologists who have their ideas about all of this.  I am merely a lay person.  But, lately, I have been trying to find a common denominator among these young brides since they are all expressing this unease about expressing themselves to their significant others.  They all fear rejection from their fiancees with good reason.  Why did they accept these men?
     When I was younger myself, their mothers were my best friends.  There was a group of us who did everything together.  We were a happy group.  What happened to the daughters?!
     Well, one common denominator that I noticed was that these brides were not popular as they started out in the teen years...but their mothers openly encouraged them to become so...the best of clothes, makeup, teeth, tans...etc. I watched my friends groom these girls to look their best, to speak their best, & to do their best.  They encouraged them to become cheerleaders, pom-pom girls, gymnastics, and dance line.  They groomed them for this while they were still young.  Take note that none of these mothers filled these positions when they were young themselves.  As youngsters, we were always outside running around the neighborhood having a carefree good time. 
     There was also competition among the parents.  If one had a pool, another went and bought a jacuzzi.  If one had a trampoline, another went out and bought a horse.  It was crazy.  They denied keeping up with the Jones'....but that is exactly what it looked like to me.  I was told that in order for the other kids to like their kids, that they had to have things.  I watched these lower, middle class to upper middle class people go broke for these kids...just so that they could be popular!
     Another common denominator that I observed was when a daughter didn't look her best and wanted to go out to hang with her friends, she would be greeted with ...are you going to wear that top?  Wouldn't your ____top look nicer?  or...what are you going to do with that hair?  Usually, the answer from the daughter was something like...oh ma.....nobody is going to be there.  I'm just hanging be met with ...well, you never know who might show up.
     What kind of hidden message do you think those daughters were picking up...hmm...if I don't look my best, nobody will like me.  If I don't perform to my mother's or father's expectations....they might not love me.  I wonder if they love me for who I am or for what I do? 
     Years ago, one of these youngsters was on a swim team.  I always thought that she liked swimming. While alone one time, she confided in me that she used to love to was fun...until she had to get up at 5 AM and eat a heavy tons of laps under pressure.  I asked her why she was still doing this if she didn't like it and was told that she wanted to make her parents proud.  I think that her mother caught a part of this conversation because she rounded the corner to enter the room stating in a bubbly manner:  Tell Vicki about your shot at the Olympics, Honey!  Her daughter looked at me with her back to her mother and rolled her eyes.  She obviously wanted out and her parents would have none of it.  It would win her scholarships and prestige when she got older.  My friend poured thousands of dollars into this sport.  Just think if she had invested that money back then?  Her daughter's education would pretty much have been paid for in full.  I would also add a note here that mother was very unpopular and had a inferiority complex at that age.  So, her daughter had to pay the price of her be recognized in ways that her mother couldn't be.
    That leads me to the other common denominator:  all of these mothers were trying to live their youth through their daughters.  They were all trying right their own wrongs through their offspring.  Is that how you are supposed to love someone?  Well, in their insecure eyes...that would be a yes.  Do I agree? No.  I let them know that and was told that it was different for me...that I didn't understand.  How a way...they were right.  My mother was not demanding on me at all.  She told me that I had to do the best that I could do in whatever I pursued....and that made me lazy in a lot of ways...and a work-a-holic in other ways.   But, regardless of what they thought that I didn't understand...I saw right through them.  They were living their daughter's lives vicariously.  How sad for everyone involved.
    Now on the other hand, I also had friends who refused to buy the best for their kids, who made their kids work. They could care less of what anyone said about them or their family or how they raised them.  Well, none of their kids are engaged or married...or in some cases even dating.  But, these kids are all successful and out seeing the world while they hang out with friends and families alike.  I just saw where one daughter was in Egypt. This was a child who told me that she wanted to be both a doctor and a ballerina when she was young.  She is now a successful pharmacist.  Another daughter is going to finish her Master's in Speech Pathology.  She is looking forward to working with kids.  These girls are still secure.  They say that they don't care about marriage...but would welcome it if the right guy came along.  They don't put up with nonsense.  They are (so far) self-assured. 
     So, the reason that I am writing about this is so that if you are a daughter, a mother or a grandmother and you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios....stop and chill.  Don't force your daughter to do what she doesn't want to do.  Don't place all of her worth in these activities or looks.  Let her know that no matter what she does, you are still her mother and that you approve of her.  Don't assume that she knows this. Open up a line of communication that is safe.  Let her know that she can tell you ANYTHING....and don't chastise her for not living up to YOUR LIFE's expectations.  Let her make decisions.  Don't send hidden messages....are you going to wear that?! in her mind means that you don't approve of her looks.  And the one rule that I would give to any parent...and I saw this all of the time at parent conferences:  STOP BEING HER BEST FRIEND!  Wait until she is an adult before you do that.  Right now, be her mother.  She doesn't need you as a friend right now....she needs a mother and father in the best case scenario.  That is not always possible...but either a parent.  Don't worry when you have to say no.  Don't buy the best all of the time.  You will spoil her.  Look at my friend's daughters:  They have the best of everything and the looks to match...and they are marrying men who are disrespectful of them.  They are either doing this out of insecurity...or to spite their mothers...or both.  Either way...there are no happy winners.  They are dating men who will love them and marry them and when they are tired of them...they will dump them.  These girls will feel that it was all their fault because they didn't do something right.  In most cases, it won't be their faults.  It won't even be their husband's faults.  It will be their parent's fault because from the start of their youth, they were sent quiet signals that they had to please the world in order to be accepted in life...and that is so wrong. 
     If you see yourself in these scenarios....please stop and regroup.  Everyday is a new day and there is still time to fix things.  Just do it before your daughter gets hurt later in her life.  Stop living through her and start finding out what YOU want to do and just do it.  Cut the apron strings and find out what you would love to do.  Get counseling if you need to. Find a hobby and get back together with your old friends.  Being popular isn't all that it is cracked up to be.  And most of all, stop lying to yourself.  Look deep within yourself.  You are a good person.  Love yourself.  Accept yourself.  God loves you....that is a start...accept that.  Stop being so hard on much so that you reflect it onto your child.  Let her be herself.  And, on an ending note, God bless you both. :-)
     "But now we still have faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."  1Corithians13:13
Don't forget that this also means to love yourself too, Moms!  It should start with you, for yourself, acceptance, before hearing it at the altar.  Daughters, you too need to hear this and accept it.  God loves you just the way that you are and so should your fiancees or husbands.  You should not accept less than this....and should also reciprocate. And daughters, whatever boyfriends do as boyfriends/fiancees, only gets amplified after marriage.  It is better to call it quits now before the wedding matter how late the hour....than to spend a lifetime in misery or in a broken marriage.  Love yourself enough to do what is best for the both of you.  Life is short....and there really are good men out there who would love you as you are and vice versa.  Never give up hope.