June 28, 2007 — -- Forget the sock hop: A new trend -- the father-daughter purity ball -- has turned the high school dance, and the father-daughter relationship, on its head.
As part of an abstinence movement in which young girls promise to save themselves for marriage, fathers are signing a pledge to help their daughters stay chaste. The deal is sealed with a "purity ball," a promlike event where father and daughter celebrate their decision.
But do these pledges really mean anything? Marie Claire magazine found that while one in six Americans between the ages of 12 and 18 vow to not to have premarital sex, 90 percent don't keep that promise.
But a few young women are not only taking the pledge but keeping it all the way down the aisle.
Lauren Wilson is one of them. Her parents, Randy and Lisa Wilson of Colorado Springs, Colo., founded the first father-daughter purity ball in 1998.
"We just saw nothing in culture that celebrated the father-daughter relationship and the power of it," Lisa Wilson said. "So we decided to create an event that actually intersected with culture and brought fathers back to their place -- incredible importance of a father in his daughter's life."
Lauren Wilson decided to take the chastity pledge at age 13, after seeing how her peers dealt with the turmoil of dating.
"I didn't like the teasing, the flirting, the dating, the breaking up," said Lauren Wilson, now 22. "I didn't want any of that. I didn't want to go through several heartbreaks before I met the man that I was going to marry."
Lauren set aside 40 days to pray and ask for direction after first setting eyes on her future husband, Brett Black. She took her purity ball pledge to the altar. She and Black saved themselves -- and their first kiss -- for their wedding day.
The Wilsons realize some people criticize the tradition they started as creepy and controlling. But with their four daughters being bombarded by the missteps of party girls like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, they wonder how a pledge of purity could be seen as a bad thing.
"I think that everyone would respect a father who is empowering his daughter to successful relationships. And what Randy has done is actually model for his daughters, the way they should be treated by the future men in their lives," Lisa Wilson said.
The Wilsons hope their three other daughters take the purity ball pledge, like Lauren. But if the girls decide to buck tradition, they won't have to go it alone.
"It's not that I would try and control and step in and say, what is going on here, how could you -- not that at all," Randy Wilson said. "I want to understand their heart and what they're thinking and process life with them in however that plays out. I am for them in every way possible."
You can find out more about purity balls by clicking here.