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Language/Communication Lesson #1 and Teen Talk

Over the summer, I found out through FB that my daughter had a bf. She had been gone for a week with my husband's family, home for no more than 3 days, and left again to visit dad and grandparents for another 2 weeks. How in that three days she found a bf is beyond me, except that we know how 'connected' they are with FB, texting, etc. The few months before that, she had gone through some major changes herself, and we found her attitude very amicable. She became much more compliant, quick to obey, cheerful, and quite helpful. AAAHHH! But don't let that allow you to let your guard down....the enemy is always seeking whom he may devour.

With this new found bf, she was going to have to find a way to see him. And she did. No sooner had I discovered this when i suspected she must be finding some way to commence the relationship in person. Luckily, i am a hypersensitive, nosy mother who often checks my teens' text messages and fb accounts. (It is simply amazing what you can learn from your teen by being just a touch nosy.) Of course, I immediately let her know that having a bf is simply not endorsed at our house, at her age. Certainly not one that we don't know or approve of. This may seem controlling or authoritative, but this was not a new discussion. My older son had had a gf for quite some time that we were not thrilled about, and excercising his right to disagree with our opinion. In order to attempt to learn from our mistakes and to get better control of the situation, Hubby and I went out one night to game plan our parenting tactics on the issue, over a beer. What we came up with was nothing short of genius (it was really good beer).

We came up with a set of "Universal Dating Rules" to teach our daughter. These timeless rules may appear old-fashioned, but executed in the modern world, with proper delivery, and a solid foundation of relationship with your teen, these will hopefully get the kiddo on a good path. "Raise your child the way he should go" comes to mind right now. In a nutshell, we explained 4 or 5 phases that a relationship with the opposite sex should follow. Most phases will never be experienced with the vast majority, and hopefully, only a lucky few will be allowed to enter phase 3, and only one to phase four. Phase One: Friendship. How many male friends are you allowed to have? She answered, 4 or 5. The correct answer is: UNLIMITED. Honey, you can have as many male friends as you want. We hope you have several healthy friendships with males. Two: Dating. How many people do you think you are allowed to date at once? She answered one. AHHH. And herein lies the communication/tool/language part of this post. We had discovered a critical distinction. 'DATING' IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH 'BOYFRIEND'. It is so simple, but so obvious. When I was allowed to "date" at 16, I was so anxious for that first date on my sixteenth birthday with my "boyfriend". But i wasn't allowed to date until i was 16, so why the hell did i have a boyfriend???? But let's move on. NO! We told her, you can 'date' many people. In my opinion, you shouldn't try and juggle more than three at a time, but that being said, I prefer you date more than one person at a time. Why?? Because i don't think its healthy for a 16-21-ish year old to get overly involved with one person. You learn things from dating. You learn about yourself, you learn about people, you learn about what you like, what you don't like, and importantly, you don't get emotionally attached if you know you may be going out with Bachelor #2 next weekend.

We went on to describe our ideas about boundaries should exist in dating relationships and the difference between the boundaries of a dating relationship vs. boundaries in a bf/gf relationship and time periods, and household rules, age related expectations, etc. Then continued: When the lucky guy is 'so honored' and 'earns' his way into 'actually being called your bf', and it is all done in the proper manner, you will have our blessing. And this, my dear, not only applies to the present, but to when you are 20 and off to college, or a single professional at 27 and no longer live at home.

She broke up with him the next day.

There are many morals to this story. My theory seems to hold true: Lead with love, build your teen up (especially your daughters), explain why and don't be a control freak, develop your communication level with them to the point that you can distinguish potential errors in their thinking, keep on the look out, and always, always draw the analogy between your boundary setting and love for them (because you want nothing less than the absolute best for them and all their dreams to come true) and God's love for us. How He sets boundaries for our GOOD and always has our best in mind, always. How many times have you heard that your view of God is affected by how you view your earthly father? Keep that in mind as you talk to your kids. And don't let me fool you, I am sure I will have to repeat the lesson over and over before she actually hears it. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Again.
And to reiterate: Dating is not/does not necessarily mean boyfriend/girlfriend.

Comments

  1. I am really going to think about this more. I love the word "endorse" and you need to remind me of it when I get to that point. That's brilliant.

    I'm not sold on your dating gig - I ran it by Scott and he said something about teaching a girl to be a slut. I pointed out that probably one would be clear about what "dating" included but he was pretty sure that most teens would assume it included making out, at the very least. Of course, Scott and I had very different teenaged years... that said, I have never heard any parent be so outside-the-box on this particular question and it really opened up a new conversation for us about it. Certainly, we're many years out from this, but given our different youths, we already know we will be doing a lot of negotiating. Having this new paradigm to consider is awesome.

    Keep on friend! I'm lovin' it.

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  2. So I ran this by a few people, young and old. The oldest one told me that he wished he was taught to 'date' more because at 14/15 years old he too was looking for a future spouse. Hubby was saying that we are giving her 'catagories'. Not all people are going to fit in all catagories.

    My initial impression when i read your husband's comment was that the slut thing is a very male point of view. The approach to my son is different than my approach to my daughter. I still think the 'dating rules' are the same, but if you tell a random guy that he should 'date' more than one person at a time, he is going to feel like a kid in a candy shop and think 'oh the possibilities' which of course, is not healthy. My son has very little self esteem issues. I appeal to his desire to gain my approval in how he treats women in general, his desire to be 'different than most guys', which consequently means being a gentleman, and I teach him how a woman's vulnerbility is to be respected and honored. It is a God-given sensitivity that should be celebrated and not 'weak'. On the contrary, it is vital to our humanity. Second, back to the language thing. Dating to some teens may mean making out, to others it may mean sleeping with everyone. This is what i mean by giving YOUR child YOUR values. In our house, dating means 'interview process'. Unless they relinquish their own definition, then they won't be susceptible to the making out or the sex, without at least knowing they made a conscious CHOICE. "Making out" doesn't equate to 'slut' in my mind. If in the worse case scenario, if all my daughter did with EVERY GUY she dated was to do a lil tongue tango, frankly, i don't think its the end of the world. Why would she do that if she feels extremely significant?? My aim is to give my kids the words, the definitions, the tools to understand they have a CHOICE. I want to be the one to 'DEFINE' dating with for them. I don't want their peers to or have them not think about it prior to being in the situation.

    I was not given the tools, the definitions, the compartments in my mind and had to figure it all out the hard way. The rules I was given were: Date only Christians. No Dating until 16. No Sex before marriage.

    Even the few rules i was given served me. I have ALWAYS been thankful, as Craig has grown in his walk with God that my kids weren't having odd influences with their father. That his values were similiar to mine, as were the values of his family. But after I did have sex, I didn't have a frame of reference to relate to. I was lost, I didn't know where to go from there. Communication did not exist, so the opportunity to prevent more catastrophe was lost.

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