So many times. And by so many I mean SO many times I have heard parents say the words, “You are not trying on my daughter.” And every time I am left feeling the irony of the whole situation is too great for my face, and I laugh. I have never been accused of being a quiet laugher, so this never ends well, me laughing loudly in the face of such passion. I am sincerely sorry if you have been on the end of this. I am a work in progress.
And believe me. I absolutely value you and your daughter and what you are trying to do, but when you resort to giving your child qualities of a leather coat, I can’t help but feel there may be a better way. This game is new to all of us, and no matter how much we want to shut our eyes and pretend none of it is happening, well, our kids aren’t getting any uglier, so it’s best we come up with a solid and viscous plan.
By this I mean it will work with some of your kids and not the others, so just be open to change and tweaking.
Decide on some boundaries. Be clear about them to your kiddos. Rinse and repeat for the better part of 15 years. I say 15, not because our kids date at 15 and then we step out. I say 15 because we start these conversations young.
Kids only escalate from our launch point. If an 8 year old is allowed to wear booty shorts, she is likely wearing straight butt cheek revealers by the time she’s 13. If her bathing suit coverage is not an open topic, you’ll be heading up an “I beg to differ” argument about what exactly counts as tasteful side boob. So start them young in the boundaries conversation about dating.
When our kids were little we reminded them how the Word says to view boys and girls- as brothers and sisters. We don’t joke about pretend boyfriends or tease about crushes. We encourage respect and honor.
Be friends. Be best friends. Never leave each other if you can possibly help it, but love well not by opening that door of temptation to an 8 year old. (Oh, you don’t think an 8 year old has ever crossed a busy street to get caught kissing a girl? An older woman at that? she was 9. I’ll have you take that up with my brother.) It might feel cute to kid, but this real life hard decision will be at your door before you know it.
And I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but schools are sharing about sex and relationships to kids who are younger and younger. I had a 5th grader bring birth control to school “just in case.” So hold on to your hats. And hold on to your babies by being proactive and teaching what it means to honor boys, to honor girls.
Teach them to set boundaries and follow yours. Make them feel supported by giving them a place to come to. And maybe don’t just yell things about trying on my daughter. Be clear about what you expect and then lead.
When our kids are teens, they are allowed to group date in true group form (two guys and two girls does not a group make. That my friend is a double date. Nice try, son.) We continue our open conversation about what their relationship should look like. I say things like, “Have you thought about kissing? How will you handle holding hands? You know there’s only one first kiss. It should be a big deal. And also, does he know and support how much you love Jesus? Does he love Jesus more than you, because he should.”
When our kids start to date, they don’t simply date those other kids. Those other kid date all of us. We encourage our kids to go spend time with the other family. Part of the reason we do this is because my husband’s mustache is very intimidating and it’s good for outsiders to know it. The other reason is relationship. We create a relationship with this new guy or girl. We get to know them and make them know what it means to be a part of us-to come to our home and see how we treat our kids and how we expect them to treat our kids.
So whatever your stance on teens dating, be proactive, be clear, be ready. We spend years making decisions about cars and colleges. Certainly we should put the same amount of thought and pray into dating.
This one hurts, I know. For a while I thought the whole teen dating thing would kill me, but I am still here. I drink more, but I am here.
Thanks for being here to celebrate my birthday month! #shes40 I am posting everyday of October for the 31 day blogging challenge and giving you all the presents! Share a post on Facebook, and your name gets entered in to the mix for a prize- you won’t want to miss these! Share one post, you get entered into the drawing once. Share each of the 31 days, and you have 31 chances to win one of many goodies. Be sure to tag me in the post, so your entry does’t get lost in the algorithm vortex.
Thanks for being my village,