I was at a meeting last evening where some parents were expressing their views on allowing their teenage children to date. The featured speaker was Heather Paulsen author of Emotional Purity. She was a gifted communicator, and I support 99% of what she spoke about. I will buy her book and use it for future reference and teachings. I'll write about that later. I was more disturbed by some of the views that were expressed by a parental panel after the speaker. All of the parents on this panel kept using the phrase, "no dating unless you are ready to get married." This statement makes absolutely no sense to me. I am probably going to get into trouble for stating my opinion on the subject, and I know there are some of you out there that may get offended by my "liberal" views on adolescent dating, which are hardly liberal, but what I would considered balanced. How is an individual ready to get married when they have no experience being in a relationship with a member of the opposite gender? It was referenced last evening that children needed to "have all of their ducks in a row" in order to be ready to be married, and therefore ready to date. I would like to know what these "ducks" are. Is it an age? Is it a job? Is it emotional maturity? All of these factors are important, but to assume that these "ducks" make one ready for marriage is naive. Marriage is a partnership, an intimate emotional relationship, and a constant interaction between two people. How do you prepare for this without ever having practiced? You can't just go to the DMV one day because you have "all your ducks in a row" (insurance, age, $, passed the written test) and get your driver's license. You have to have had experience behind the wheel.
I could write so much more, and maybe I will one day. In college I began to jot down notes about dating, and have labeled this series of notes, "The Four Knows of Dating." They consists, of
1) Knowing God...and his command and design for relationships
2) Knowing Your Parents...and their desire and rules for relationships (and HONORING them)
3)Knowing Yourself...and how and when you are ready for relationships
4)Knowing Your Standard...and what you will invest physically and emotionally in relationships
Maybe instead of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye", I will write a book "How I Hugged Balance and said Hello".
In one instance a parent shared about how here 21 year old daughter came to them recently and stated that she liked some one. The parents instructed her to have this young man have a conversation with her father. The dad consequently expressed that in order to date his daughter he had to be ready to marry her. At 12, 13, 14, and even 17, a parent should be involved and in charge of their children's romantic relationships. At 21? My job as a parent isn't to spoon feed my children for the rest of their life. My job is to give them a utensil and teach them how to use it.