Yesterday I posted the first installment of Teenage Dating for Girls, and within hours I had more than 900 hits on the article. I take it that parents find this topic important. That makes me happy! Caring parents are looking for support and encouragement! Although our individual rules may differ, we are all concerned with providing guidelines and positive, proactive experiences for our daughters. We treasure them and want to make decisions that will help them grow into happy, healthy and holy young women, wives and mothers. I think that in talking about this, sticking together (not sure exactly what that means but I’m thinking it’s that we encourage one another to be countercultural and support one another’s efforts ) , and exchanging ideas in an understanding sincere way, we can help create the culture that will enable our children’s future marriages to grow and thrive in love, holiness and joy. Yay us! It’s a great first step.
The first ‘rule’ I mentioned yesterday was the importance of delayed dating. To briefly recap, studies have shown that early, regular one-on-one dating is an indicator for sexual involvement. Common sense also tells us it puts our girls at risk for emotional ups and downs and heartache as break ups inevitably occur. I shared:
1. No alone, one-on-one steady dating before age 18. You can hit the link above to read an explanation. Now let’s move on to some other suggestions.
2. If a young man is interested in getting to know our daughter, he should be willing to hang around our family.
We are all part of the larger whole that is called our family. Our views, thoughts, opinions are all formed within this unit, and we inherit not just physical characteristics from our parents, but often many emotional ones as well. It really is in the best interest of anyone who wants to be long term in the life of our daughter to get to know the people who have formed her, who cherish her, who know her well. Parents and siblings can provide guidance and input, offer support and alert a young woman to warning signs in prospective dates. Ideally, if the two do go out, the girl will also spend time with the young man’s family.
My own dad disliked one of my dates from the beginning when the fellow wouldn’t look him in the eye. Dad turned out to be right in regards to the guy’s character. I was frankly oblivious. Happily for all of us I didn’t see him for long.
Siblings and parents might pick up on things the young starry eyed girl may miss. This is not to say that a young suitor must be put through the wringer. Kindness and friendliness should abound. Understanding is a must too, and recognition that young people are forming and developing and no one is perfect, but a young person hoping to date our daughter must be willing to be here, with us, and engage with us. This doesn’t have to be formal or uncomfortable. He can simply join the family for dinner, play basketball on the driveway (with the brothers is ideal); he can chat around the table, play a game of cards with the siblings, sit on the porch and talk, join us in a family outing (bowling, movie, etc.). Sincerity of intentions and respect are of utmost importance.
3. If he wants to take our daughter to the prom or another school sponsored dance, they go in a group and he asks dad’s permission.
When I was 15, I took golf lessons at a country club. The golf pro had four sons, all good golfers themselves. The most talented of them all (okay, I’m biased- you’ll soon see why), who eventually ended up playing on the college team at Indiana University and in amateur tournaments including the British Amateur in Scotland, was a young man two and a half years older than me. His name was David.
David helped his dad give golf lessons, reminding us all to count all our strokes, follow through on our swings and replace our divots as a courtesy to the next golfer. This nearly 18 year old was a hard worker, toiling in the golf shop, picking up balls on the practice range and cleaning clubs for members. He was polite, honest and clean-cut. One summer evening as my dad was putting his golf clubs in the trunk David asked him if he could take me out. My dad, who had interacted with David at the golf course for several years and knew his character, said he’d love that…when I was older.
The fact that my future husband ( I married David) asked my father’s permission to date me irritated me at the time. (I first heard of his interest in me through my dad- how annoying is that for a 15 year old girl? ) The protectiveness seemed overbearing, and I was embarrassed, but as I grew older, eventually dated, loved and married that young man David, I came to see how right on he was to ask my father’s permission to date me. It has now become the gold standard in our family. My husband is an amazing man. But I digress…
Asking permission from the father to date a girl is right in so many ways. It demonstrates respect for the parents and family. It demonstrates respect for the girl. It demonstrates good intentions on the boy’s part. It recognizes that the girl is part of a larger universe- her family, and holds the boy and girl accountable for the serious business they are about to undertake- the business of courtship, with the intent to eventually find the right spouse.
Last spring, our 18 year old senior in high school daughter was asked to the prom. The young man (who will remain unnamed for his and her privacy) had been hanging around the house, getting to know all of us. There was some porch sitting, and driveway walking. We knew him through his after school work at a neighborhood store. The two attended the prom with a group. They had a very nice time although ultimately they determined they were not suited as a good match to date further. That’s okay. This is a process…for both of them. I respect and admire that young man for the respect and courage he demonstrated. He will be a fine husband to some young lady one day.
4. We teach our daughter that her date should open the door for her, pull out her chair for her, help her with her sweater or jacket as the temperature changes.
How does she learn this, you ask? While a simple reminder always helps, she innately knows because Dad has been demonstrating it all along, with her mother, her sisters and with her. (After 27 years I still do not open doors) These niceties become the norm for a girl who is treasured, and she expects to be treated like a lady. Conversely, she acts like a lady. She says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. She does not order items off the menu that may be too expensive or extravagant. She thanks her date for the meal, movie or other event of the evening. She knows that she does not owe him anything at the end of the night but gratitude and honesty. As long as we’re discussing what constitutes ladylike behavior, here are a few more things our daughter needs to know-
-A lady does not speak roughly or coarsely. Language like “That sucks” and “Yeah right” may be common in modern society but she refrains. She doesn’t sing modern vulgar songs, sit with her legs apart, chew gum chompily, gossip or speak unkindly of anyone. She isn’t loud or obnoxious. She doesn’t burp or pass gas in public, nor does she mention private bodily functions of any kind. (No “I have to pee” or things like that)
-A lady dresses modestly. She takes care of her appearance and is in style as much as she wishes, but watches to make sure her skirts are not too short, her blouse too low or her straps showing. An individual family initially sets this standard, but the daughter will ultimately determine it for herself.
It is true that our daughters are legally adult citizens at age 18. And they are legally free to live their lives as they see fit. However, through years of love and care and training, they come to know how much we want the best for them, and that our wisdom, gleaned through years of experience, is worth considering and embracing. What’s more, true adulthood and complete autonomy depends on complete financial responsibility- While our young adults live in our home, are being supported (in college or otherwise) financially, they need to abide by our rules. And they do. I’m really proud of them!
So far, we have had a wonderful, close relationship with them all.
And so, that concludes my thoughts for now. Except for this-
The feminists are going to have fun with this post if they get a read of it.
I hope this helps you as you discern what’s best for YOUR family and YOUR girls. I’m open to ideas, always wanting to improve. Please share below but please be respectful.