Friday, May 14, 2010

A new rant: part 2 teen dating

It is without question that our own personal experience color our current opinions. As much as we would like to claim a balanced, unbiased view, I think it is a kindness to everyone involved if we just gave up faking it and just came right out and said how we feel and what we've experienced, right?

Well, without going into the gory details, I was probably a tad "boy crazy" during my teen years. I had various boyfriends in high school, with various degrees of heartbreaks. I had a standard of purity, but it wasn't based on a solid Christian belief--more of a practical one. I was saving myself for the man I would marry. Sex before marriage sounded way too complicated and scary. My Mom talked openly about the topic also, as much as she could. I had a profession of Christian faith in my teen years that was probably more of an emotional response to compelling evangelical messages than a repentance of sin. This weak profession along with my prudish sense of what was practical kept me from a degree of problems, but it did not keep my heart and mind protected and pure.

Essentially, I gave away much of what should be kept in secret, emotionally and physically. I have no one to blame for this except myself. I am thankful for the God-sent ability to thwart the advances of bad boys and literally "slap" those who tried to pinch my hind quarters on occasion. Nevertheless, there has got to be a better way to rear children in a Christian home rather than just reliving your own childhood.

I think many people who have not repented of the sins of their youth are somehow trying to justify their actions by not restraining their children and their lusts. Sometimes it is merely a lack of knowledge, and other times, it is a lack of true conviction and repentance.

Either way, I would like something better for my children.

And when I say "better"; I am not referring to more rules. What I am referring to is discernment, self control, and reliance on God.

I am not referring to arranged marriages or somehow dating the entire family. These are extreme reactions to our out of control culture.

But I really, truly do not know what the answer is for each family. It should be a real, heartfelt, leading from the Holy Spirit. So, to sit down and make rules.. to somehow make it such a legal thing... can this possibly be the right way either? And who am I to talk?? Really. My oldest child is only 18, and as far as I know, girls are a ?? (don't kill me) necessity. I'm sure this will change.. in time. My daughter who is a beautiful 16 year old is also in no frame to be thinking about this either. She is enjoying a beautiful girlhood, though. Boys are toads right now. Sorry, guys. And we ARE a fun-loving family. It's going to take a decision on her part to take an interest in boys, and quite a special guy to lure her away.

I would like to pray with my children, though, as they find a mate. I would like them to be content as single people before they launch into marriage. I would like them to know what their life's calling is before they drag along someone else into their lives. Basic stuff.

And there is the possibility that a young man or woman would have it all together at a fairly young age (like 14 or 16) and know who they are to marry at that age. But it would be more convenient for everyone if they didn't! Nevertheless, it happens. And if God is truly in it, than who are we to squelch the Holy Spirit?

I think my parenting style would lend itself to letting these things remain quiet stirrings rather than an outward expression for as long as possible. Life gets complicated for our young people. And if you are a type A, study nerd like my kids are, they want to get educations before they dive into the next phase of their lives. And my guess is, although I can not confirm this, is that they will probably marry people who are also study nerds also...

And if you are wanting to go to pilot training (like one) and grad school (like another) and law school (like a different kid) would highly convenient if God kept this part of their emotions quiet during these years.

Knowing that is the training to fulfill their live's callings, I am also trusting that God will provide spouses for them at the right time. There will be plenty of other Christian young people who are pursuing dreams rather than launching into marriage at such a young age.

So, you know my biases. I apologize. This need not be an issue to divide on. I write to make you ponder.. to hone my own opinions.. to challenge.. and learn.

And, everyone comes out of the woodwork when I write about teens... LOL.

And when I told Jamie that "Writing about teens and dating makes everyone read my blog"

He said, "What!?? What do YOU know about teens and dating?" And I said, "You're right. I know nothing. I have never actually HAD a TEEN who is DATING. So, consider your source.. LOL.

Make my home sing at Mom's the Word for more ideas.


Kathryn said...

Ok, i'm impressed. Very very much so.

From your last "rant" about "allowing" dating at certain ages (at least i think that is what i read), i didn't expect this. In my experience, folks tend to create hard & fast rules & not allow for the individual personalities or maturity of the children or the leading of God. If it seems to happen too young, it can't possibly be God's will!

I think that you are on the right track here. I understand what you are saying about staying emotionally clear or pure.

There is friendship. One of my best friends is a man i met in college. I am blessed to call him my dear friend.

I was married (the first time although already the marriage was in a lot of trouble) when i went to college, plus i attended a Christian College, which took some of the edge off. Now, i'm not saying things don't happen at a Christian College, too, because they do.

Some of the biggest problems were from students whose (who's?) parents were too strict & protective & the kids rather went wild when they got out from under "the thumb." Some of those parents sent their kids to a Christian school thinking that that alone would continue the control & protection.

I strongly believe that children need to learn to have self-control, not just rely on someone else to provide it. (That said, from my statement of the part I, without self-control i might have had no different experience in dating, even had i begun dating while living in my parents' home.)

While i was in college & the "pressure was off" because i was married & not looking for someone, i enjoyed male friendship very much. There were no emotional attachments. This did not break up my marriage (it was broken from other issues entirely although i realize by what i've said it might sound as tho i'm in denial). But i was free to hang out between classes & in study groups with a lot of folks & debate & discuss so many things. I wish that freedom of spending time with the opposite sex without the pressure of wondering what they thought of me had come to me earlier in life.

For me, i believe that being able to have friendships with boys as a teen would have been a good thing. I don't know why it didn't happen.

You are right that leaving my parents' home was shelter/safety reasons, tho not the usual ones. I just so much wanted to be loved! It is also why i married much too young & immature & to someone not able to love & honor me. Part of the reason i left "home" & married was rebellion, too. Against God, if nothing else, for "giving me" the parents i had & the life i was living.

It is so sweet of you to "wish I could have been your mama!" Oh, i so wish i could have had someone like you in my life! It would have been such a blessing to me.

That said, i did learn & experience much. I'm just not sure, no, i'm afraid i simply believe that i did NOT learn much of what i needed to live a healthy life. I've spent my adult life trying to teach myself these things (with limited success) which i believe i should have been taught as a child.

It was 11 years after i graduated college before i married again. Not to anyone i knew from college days. God has so richly blessed me, far beyond what i deserve, in my wonderful, loving husband.

How very lucky, blessed, fortunate, etc., your children are! They will, i am sure, rise up & call you blessed! (Tho it may not happen much in teens & twenties.) I can't use words of high enough praise for how very wise & caring you are in the raising of your children.

Ruby said...

These are good and interesting and good thoughts, Jena. I always like the high brow posts :-) If you keep a level head, a good relationship with your kids and the habit of prayer, you are unlikely to go worong.
Now, if only I had had a couple of A type nerds, perhaps we might have avoided some heartache. Lord, give us wisdom!

momstheword said...

I don't know if you read the guest post my 21 year old wrote on my blog, but as he said we've told them that really dating is for marriage.

And if you aren't ready to get married, why date?

Hmmmmm, let's give a 16 or 17 year old boy the keys to the car and let him take out a girl he about putting them in the way of temptation!

We've just talked to them about honoring and respecting women, and also about keeping their hearts and bodies pure for the girl they'll marry some day.

Thanks for linking up today!

Lawgirl said...

I think that you are allowed to think what you want and you don't have to apologize for anything. :D

I think it's great that your kids have the focus that they have. They may have different thoughts and feelings once they are in college and exposed to more people.

I didn't date as a teenager because of issues at home - in fact, I didn't date until I was 30. And then I had to deal with all of the emotional crap that I should have dealt with as a teenager in an adult's body. It was as though I had to go through what everyone else went through as a teenager - and in a shorter amount of time.

It wasn't easy and I made some truly horrible choices. That's why I'm advocating that kids be allowed to go learn a few things about relationships, to "practice" if you will, when they are younger and still in a controlled environment.

Emotional maturity comes from many things and one of them is learning from experience.

Organizing Mommy said...


I LEARNED a lot from my last post and the comments. And I would like to say that people like you are teaching me! And I was moved by Mrs. P's story also. Rules are something to rebel against. The Holy Spirit gives peace and room for differences.

Organizing Mommy said...


Thanks so much for your sweet comments. God will give grace to the humble! May you and I both have grace! I wish I could go back and be your mama and have scads of great social opportunities with you.

Here's an example of the way we are getting our kids ample social opportunities. After the big graduation ceremony, a few of the kids' friends were there. I offered that we all go out for a bite. Essentially it was a group of young people and me. The kids had freedom to talk and be young people, but without the pressure of dating. LA's kids (a commenter from the last post) are just a blessing to us. And many other families in our area are able to spend time with our kids. I know it is probably "impossible" for you and your hard upbringing to imagine all of this. Even I am stretched when I compare it to the nonsense that went on in my own life. But this is the "new normal" if you will. And it is fun! I'm learning right along with the kids. I even teased one of the boys about "regularly" reading my blog! To which he denied but managed to see the big hair post from across the room!! LOL!

DarcyLee said...

I believe we as Christians in general have modeled the world in far too many things and dating is no exception. I dated a few guys in high school and college and it was awful-until I met my husband-after getting to know him I just knew he was the one. We have given all of our daughters purity rings when they turned 13 and know/knew our expectations about dating and marriage. We have always told them that they don't need to really start looking for that special someone until they are ready to get married. We also always taught them that once they find that special someone it makes it much harder to reach your goals (schooling, etc.). Ask anybody who is trying to raise a family and go to school at the same time.

I think the most important thing is to keeping the lines of communication open.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Go Jena.

Insightful AND funny ;D

Very wise words to ponder, over the next few years, as the Grasshoppers enter adolescence.

I will say one nice thing about rules though... they often give the kid a very handy "out". My parents always said, "Let US be the bad guy. You can tell all your friends that your mean old parents won't let you (fill in the blank)."

And it was true. I can remember times I was invited to participate in something I really wasn't comfortable with, but might have gone along with to be cool... but I had an out.

I admire the relationship you have with your kids. That alone will head a ton of potential trouble off at the pass :D


Mrs. Parunak said...

Really neat to hear your background! I think your common sense "no rules" approach is right on!

The dB family said...

Yep, I'm pondering. I agree with what you are saying, but my oldest is only thirteen, so what do I know :o)! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope to be as brave when the topic will rear its (ugly) head in our home.