I suppose the question was never more toyed with than during the film – When Harry Met Sally. The idea that if a boy and a girl strike a friendship – that the only development that is possible through time is a physical emotional relationship – or it is not worth pursuing.
The trouble is we have experienced, witnessed and read something entirely different.
We were living in a bubble of sorts, I am finding out now. With healthy families, with healthy kids- mind, body and soul. Parents who shepherded their children. Walked along side them, talked to them. Shared the desires of their heart – shared the fears and failings of their own past. Read the word – shared what they felt God’s goals for their young adult life might look like. From a very young age. Seven, eight, nine, ten.
Sharing with young girls how important they are. Valued. To be respected. Taught them to be servants – without being doormats. Taught them skills to be valuable to any group gathering, to a home. Encouraged them to grow and learn and better their bodies and minds. Gave them ideals for the types of young men that would be the leader of the home that she would one day be a help meet for.
Sharing with young men. Very young men. To treat each girl as if she might be his bride. Or his best friend’s bride. That each young girl is a princess, to be valued, to be protected. To take every moment captive to protect her reputation. To allow nothing that would cause rumors or a false witness. To develop the skills to be leaders in their community, church, home, for any gathering. Learning to lead by serving. Digging deep into the Word, leaning on the Holy Spirit for understanding, so that one day, he might be able to wash his wife and family with that Word. To listen. To learn to hear God’s Voice. To practice faith in a safe environment, practice taking leaps of faith – with a safety net. Bringing along other young men to hold each other accountable.
For these young men do not know. That beautiful girl? She may turn out to be your bride. But she may turn out to be your best friend’s bride. Or a new young man – yet to be your friend, you may need to welcome him as her husband. Will you be able to look him in the eye, and say you have been a knight, protecting her and her friends for the day she says her vow? You may just be protecting that young girl for your own wife. But you really don’t know.
What we have found, after moving to a tiny town, full of various faiths or lack there of. Filled with all sorts of good learning styles? That there isn’t a group of kids grabbing hold of how important it is to guard their hearts as they develop maturity, knowledge and faith.
Each activity – each gathering – and each conversation after centers around 2-3 questions. Who do you like? Do you like them? Do you like like them? Who is your girlfriend? A breakup only seems to last hours before the empty seat is refilled. Possession. Mine. Pairing up moving to dark corners, huddled in corners, comparing dance cards.
Is he yours? Does she belong to you?
Picture a gathering of young people. Ages k-12. In one building. The young ones are playing, maybe racing the halls a bit too loudly. The adults are preparing for their leadership roles for the evening. The young adults – middle and high school – are preparing the kitchen. Stacking chairs. Sweeping the entry way. Shoveling the snow. Carrying in the boxes. Asking what they can do. They work together. Side by side. As the evening winds down, several hours later, those same young people, vacuum the carpets, put away the snacks, wipe the bathroom down, looking for something to do. There are many families. Over 70 kids. If you are really careful, you’ll see the sideways glance. The too long smile, the fluttering eyelid. You know these are normal kids, who prefer one over the other. But the focus – is what they can do – not what they can get out of each other.
I have yet to go to a gathering in our new town – in three years – where the young people are expected to do anything. I believe that my boys should be the volunteers. They may attend an activity and really enjoy themselves – but there comes a point where they should realize how much work goes into their entertainment – and be a part of making sure that the burden is lifted, shared by many, enjoyed by all.
The boys both worked through a book – Squire and the Scroll – before they were 11. They learned the various ideals of becoming a knight for the king – and have both been asked if they think this is how they want to live their young adult lives. So far – one has said yes. One , honestly, is still deciding. The battle of the flesh of joining these games the kids play – pulls at his pride and ego and self worth. I am praying – seeing God’s hand – as we walk through his young training. He is making excellent progress – it isn’t something we force on the boys. We just don’t create, drive to, encourage times where they are idle to spend time flirting.
Our home is wired. Cell phones. iPods. Laptops. iPads. Computers. Wii, XBox. Communication – is in a new phase. Social Media. They see the way we develop our resources using the good parts of Social Media – this blog – and communicate the same way. So we walk. Day by day. Trying this or that. Seeing what fruit it produces. I’ve had to learn myself – how to use my time for His Glory with electronic communication. We learn together. Just as so many adults are using these tools for harm (will the election ever end??), so do these young people, immature, selfish, full of pride, begging to be petted with virtual praise – use these tools for their own selfish gains.
And so I checked out the book I just reviewed. Dating or Courtship. And their advice was to wait until 13 or 14 to talk to their kids. I am reading reviews from many of the other books and hearing my friends say to wait until after they are 12 preferably 14 to talk to their kids.
I can tell you. In this town. That. would. not. work. Every kid on our son’s baseball team was active to some degree with a girl. 5th-7th grade boys. You can’t wait until the hormone switch has turned on, the heart has swollen to bursting a rib, the sparkle is in their eye, and a young lass has captured your son’s emotions – to say – Oh and by the way – we want you to go the courtship route. It’s to late. It will put you on opposing teams. You might lock your child up – but you will not build relationship.
There are four girls in this town, that are friends to my boys. Two are homeschooled (see a trend) who really just seem happy to see a friend in town, and they share together their projects and joy. Two live out of town, and are quiet, I do not know their hearts – but I have not heard the speak of crushes or “like likes”.
Do we really live in an age where people are unable to be friends, unless there is relationship of hormones building? Is that the only reason you’d like to get to know a person, if you can own them? Once owning, you can toss aside for the next victim?
As you can hear – I am quite passionate about it. Because I Have Seen It Work. Many Families. Friends. Together. Without ‘hooking up’.
I urge you, beg you, implore you. Don’t wait. Start talking to them now. Guide. Direct. Show scripture. PRAY! Cry out in prayer that He keeps their heart. That they have a heart for Christ. That they find love and acceptance and joy and self worth – from what they are doing – experiencing – learning –serving – and not from a person. Do you really want to raise a child that only feels whole and secure if a person likes them? Oh my heart aches.
We have had to make some drastic steps around here with social media. Hurt a few friends. Hurt my sons. I had to choose. Who do I fear? God? Or man? God or my sons? I cried out to Him recently- to smooth over a situation – that I could share my heart, but not build up a dividing wall. A wall that had to go up, but wanted us both to be on the same side of it.
These battles are not always male/female led. It could be the child who refuses to do chores with a happy countenance. Who sighs at a page of math. Who seems it un necessary to help an elderly friend. How will you share your heart with them.
But I’m getting off topic. As you read these reviews, now fully entered into the school year, please, please – rethink, re-pray your stance on relationships.
To those who will see themselves in my example of families above – I thank you. I don’t think any of them read my blog – but I still thank them. To the four girls in town that my boys admire as princes warriors – oh one more face just popped up, but she moved to the other side of the country . . . Thank you.
Angie, we’ve done the same thing with our girls. We’ve regularly had families over for social visits that include sons who are my daughters’ ages. And we’ve talked with our girls for quite a few years now about the importance of being friends with many boys, not just exclusively liking one boy at their age. I feel sorry for families who wait until their children are in 8th or 9th grade to begin talking with them about honor and purity and how to maintain a friendship with boys just because it’s enjoyable to be friends with members of both sexes. They are missing out – and if they wait until high school to discuss these things, often their children will no longer listen to their parents about relationships at this age.
We started reading The Princess and the Kiss when they were around 4-6 years old. They understood the concepts in that book, as much as little girls can, and it has guided them well over the years so far. We’ve used other books to share purity and godly relationship concepts with them over the years, and will continue to do that in the last 4-6 years we have with our girls before they graduate from high school.
And yes, we have found that homeschooled boys from Christian families have been much easier for my girls to befriend and have a normal friendship with, without a romantic relationship being expected of my girls. It’s definitely a trend! 🙂