Monday, October 01, 2012

Everyone Needs a Hand to Hold On To

Our house rule is that we do not allow dating until after high school. In theory, we encourage our children to have lots of friends and do group activities; grow and discover who they are or want to be; get to know God and His plan for them - all of which can be hindered by a one-on-one relationship with the opposite gender.

The added benefit of group activities is that they can get to know people better. They can know that, ok, I don't need to pursue a relationship with THAT one, but maybe that one over there I could get to know better? Group activities help them find out so much about a person; how do they react when they win/lose? How do they treat their siblings? How do they talk about their mother? (HEY! That last one is important!)

Lastly, when you're in high school and in no position to marry, four to five years is a LONG TIME to safely carry a relationship without compromise.

When they were 9 years old, this rule made perfect sense. When they were 11 years old and some of the girls were already going boy crazy, this rule STILL made sense and boy were they glad we had it. When they turned 16, this rule became very, very difficult.

Tyler approached me when he was 16 and asked me to explain the rule AGAIN. I did, and it still made sense. He never questioned it again but waited until he graduated from high school, waited another year for Jessie to graduate from high school, and then began dating with our complete blessing and support. (In fact, I would become concerned if I felt they weren't spending enough time together!)

Kelly understood the rule and witnessed the pain of friends who entered relationships too soon. It was difficult for her to take a stand and friends began to think she was The Sinless One, though she tried in vain to convince them she was nowhere near perfect. Her first date was two days after her high school graduation. Strangely, her friends were angry at her for dating and treated her poorly for a while (some still do). Her closest friends eventually came around with many heartfelt discussions, apologies, and amends on both parts. It's so hard to be a teen! (Kelly's still dating that same boy, by the way.) =)

Glenna has now reached 16. When she was younger and told me how much she appreciated The Rule, I told her, "Hold on to that, Glenna! Hold on to that, because 16 is coming and it's going to get rough!" She now fully understands The Rule but agrees that yes, it's rough. She has a GREAT group of friends and we love them all dearly, and for the most part they seem to be like-minded. While they are not without teen drama, this has certainly made things more bearable for teens and parents alike! Still, like I said, it can be difficult. Case in point:

Me: I really want to take a day-trip! You know, where I pack an ice chest with great food, we bring charcoal and swim stuff, and we stay at a place and play and swim and hang out the entire day! It would be us and Ty and Jess and Kelly and Paul .. .

Glenna: [wailing] COULD I PUH-LEEASE BRING A MAN???!!!?! I'm so tired of being the only one who isn't a couple!

Himself: You could bring a man, all right. Bring a man so I could kick his . . .

Me:  . . . how about one of your girl friends? You could bring a friend, and that would be all right!

We all did a Disney day last year and Glenna was the only one who wasn't paired up. When we got home, she found one of my rubber gloves from work and filled it with sand, then came into the house with her fingers intertwined with the glove.

"There! Now I can hold a hand, too!" It was HILARIOUS. (She still has it.)

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