Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Courtship vs Dating, pt. 4--Balanced or Lukewarm?

In the previous three posts, I outlined my own experiences. In this one, I am considering what I want to teach my children. Frankly, I am a bit wishy-washy. Bill Gothard would have a nice, neat explanation of how my standards are lukewarm, complete with a nifty little alien drawing. While I am grateful for much of what I was taught, I am not sure what I want to pass on to my kidlets.

* The whole idea of waiting for a relationship that has the probable outcome of marriage. Eh, maybe. I definitely want my kids to be honest always, with themselves, with the person they are dating and with God. I do want them to be careful with their own hearts and with the hearts of others. At the same time, I think that there are valuable things to learn in all relationships, and that the whole notion of courtship can result in the exact same pressures and pain that happen in any dating relationship. There may actually be great value in a relationship where there is more freedom for them to look at things objectively and walk away without feeling that they are breaking a commitment.

* Physical involvement. My answer is pretty much the same as to the previous part. I am all for honesty and restraint. I believe that the Bible does reserve sex as God's amazing wedding present. I've also known people who didn't even kiss until their wedding. That is hard for me to wrap my mind around. I pretty much come down to a lot of the gray areas being between the individuals and God. And really, temptation levels vary so much. There were times when I could enjoy making out tremendously but not feel tempted to take it any further. Other times, just being in the same room with Carlos required self-control.

* The Father and The One. You can probably guess where I stand on this. I've already mentioned my views on patriarchy. I think that family involvement is great. It helps with the whole honesty and accountability aspect, and I think that the opinion of one's family is important. However, I also believe that God speaks directly to the individual couple. Families can have a skewed and unobjective opinion here, just like with any other issue. As for the whole concept of The One, I am not so sure. I certainly can't imagine being married to anyone else other than Carlos. However, I do think that successful marriages can be built with more than one potential person.

* What this means in concrete terms. I don't know. I don't know what parameters I would set with our children exactly, as far as age or type of dating or whatever. I imagine that it will be an ongoing discussion in many ways. I'm glad that I have a little time to talk and pray and think about it. Those of you who have noticed how many soap boxes I tend to mount in parenting, here is your chance! Influence me! ;)


Anonymous said...

Hmm, that is tough. I don't even know how to answer because I'm a young single woman struggling with this very issue. Part of my struggle is trying to keep my heart pure and my mind clear, while not having any clear idea that any guy has any interest other then friendship. And then my personal issue where I don't believe it possible for any guy to have any interest in me.

I know you will be, but be careful with your daughters when it comes to their apperence and how that relates to men. For me, not sure if it was the Disney at age 4 or the comments of my dad or both, but I have a huge problem thinking I can never be worth anything to any man because I'm overweight and don't have the perfect hourglass shape (and I compare myself to all the beautifully shaped girls around me :P). But I have a feeling you will be wonderful with your girls :) .

I wish I had more to help you with. But your posts have given me stuff to think about and I am grateful for it :) .

dulce de leche said...

Thank you so very much for responding! <3 And many, many hugs to you. I am sorry for the lies you have been told about your beauty, and appreciate your reminder for my own daughters. I know reading words from a person you have never met is probably easy to disregard, but I hope that you will come to see the radiance and loveliness in the person that you are. It sounds like you are smart, aware and growing in healing. Wishing you fullness of joy!

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Very interesting things to think about. Sam and I talk about this often as well, how we will guide our kids when it comes to dating, marriage, sex, etc. I went to Wheaton, where half the students subscribed to Passion and Purity and half the students (me, heh heh) mocked it. I was still very conservative, but I didn't believe in a strict courtship model. It's funny, though, because I tried a couple times (only) to date casually — and it was a colossal failure. I felt so false. (And this was without any physical interaction.) It was clear to me that, at that age, the only romantic relationships that felt right to me were ones that had a shot at marriage in the end, though I wasn't convinced that I needed to know right off the bat whether marriage would happen with this person, only that it could. I don't know if that's a personality thing, or a cultural thing, or what, but Sam says he felt the same way.

On the other hand, we felt like physical purity was set up so highly that it was ludicrously overemphasized. I remember feeling actual anger when I was finally married, and the next day, everyone knew what we had done the night before and no one cared. I don't even know how to explain that completely; there was just this feeling of, Why on earth did everyone fixate on what Sam and I possibly, maybe were doing, down to the last detail, when we were dating, and now that we're married, they don't even talk about it? It seemed very … unbalanced. I've decided I want to concentrate on promoting healthy and loving relationships when I speak with my kids about romantic involvement, rather than lists of dos and don'ts and the "biological hand grenade ladder" (a horrifyingly mixed metaphor that still makes me giggle).

I also remember there was a time my mother told me she didn't believe in the concept of The One. At the time (in high school), I felt this was very unromantic of her and perhaps a little insulting toward my father (though they have a fabulous relationship). Now that I'm older, though, I have to say I don't believe in it, either. I think there are good matches, and not so good, but I can imagine multiple good matches for any one partner. That said, I'm so happy I got the match I did! :)

dulce de leche said...

Oh, wow! I didn't know that you had gone to Wheaton. I considered it for awhile, but wound up closer to home. You bring up some excellent points! I am still thinking through the whole issue, but have you seen the Sex Ed in a Christian Home

Colleen76 said...

I grew up around the idea of courtship but my parents divorced when I was 15 and I wasn't exactly on happy terms with my dad. I too was homeschooled, not around a lot of guys so I didn't have to deal with the dating thing until I was 18. Then this guy cam home from his 4 years in the Navy and since we were always early to Sunday school we talked, a lot. I was such a sheltered clueless little girl when he first asked me out I almost panicked. :) I managed a yes though. I was terrified o my mom told me it's not like you have to may him. I reminded her of that statement on my wedding day. "Sure mom it was just a date it's not like I have-to marry him" No courtship but a lot of time at each others homes(we both still lived with our parents) but we did go out too.
Our oldest two children are girls 14 & 11 right now. We are kind of taking a middle road of trust daddy to help keep the losers and users away from you. The rest has been mostly awareness training of what to look for, the differences between someone who wants to get to know you and who will respect you or the type who are looking to get something from you. I guess the summary would be father as an assistant or involved helper not matchmaker.