By Shannon Popkin
There’s this store in the mall that I’ve been known to grumble about. It’s dark in there, the music is blaring, and the smell trails behind me when I leave. Plus, it’s selling more than just clothes. When you shop there, you’re bombarded with the not-so-subtle message that buying sexy clothes will get you sexy dates, and sexy dates are really the only thing that matters.
If you’re a mom who wants her tweens to dress modestly and resist premature dating, you can see why I balk at entering.
But today, I did enter. My son was invited to a party, and the birthday girl named this particular store as the best option, if he happened to be looking for a gift card. He was, and we went.
Only this is the picture on the gift card, which the employee handed him after he paid.
Reading his face, I said, “Uh … are there any other options for gift cards? I’m not sure my son wants to give that to his friend.”
Nope. No other options. And you can’t return gift cards.
I was frustrated. Both for my son’s sake, and for the rest of the tweens and teens who shuffle through that store on a daily basis. The store screams lies as loudly as it plays its music. They go like this:
There are no other options. When you’re twelve, this is what you should look like. (See various mannequins and sales-kids for examples.) This is what your friendships should look like — flirtatious and provocative and suggestive. Buy the whole package. It’s your only option.
But I want to wave my arms and yell to my kids and throw them a lifeline. There is another option. You can dress in a way that honors the Lord. You can reserve the sort of relationship displayed on the gift card for the one you decide to give your heart to. And if you wait — if you save yourself completely and totally for your marriage partner — you’ll give a gift card that is fully loaded with your heart. Not little $10 swipes here and there, but the whole package.
That’s the option I want my kids to know about.
And in the meantime, I swapped my son for this gift card.
Spotted dogs are pretty safe symbols of friendly non-affection, don’t you think?
SHANNON POPKIN loves the power tucked into a good story. As she connects with other women through writing and speaking, her passion is to tell stories within the context of the One Great Story — God’s. Shannon has been published by Thriving Family, MOMSense, and Family Fun, and she blogs at Tiny Paragraphs. Though she and her husband, Ken, are officially ‘Beyond Bath Time’ duty (their kids now shower behind locked doors), they’re convinced that the adventures of parenting have just begun!