Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Different View of Teen Relationships

If you haven’t figured it out already, you’ll know it by the end of this article; I have a different outlook on life than your average Joe. Some may say I’m old-fashioned, that I should wake up and join the 21st century. I prefer to think that I am much wider awake than most “modern” thinking people.

Take for example, the recent phenomena of dating. I believe there are much better options for our youth than what society is teaching them. Today’s Hollywood scene continually screams at them, “Find someone you’re attracted to, get alone with them, and do what comes naturally.” Sorry, but we’re not sitting back and letting our children learn that lesson.
Instead, when they were little, we loved to let them watch things like “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang”, so we could point out the line where the little girl says, “Just as soon as he kisses her, then they HAVE to get married.” Our teens realize that high of a standard may be a little extreme…but they recognize the value of high standards.

Once teens get physical, then they’ve developed a bond and attachment with a person - many times before they really even know the other person. Leave the physical part out of the bargain for awhile, and all of a sudden you have to actually get to know each other. And you get to know each other before you’ve let the physical aspect cloud your perspective.

Recently, one of our older daughters moved us beyond the “boys are for playing soccer and fishing with” level. She came home one night and excitedly announced, “[He] told me he liked me today!” (I don’t want to use names or they’d both be embarrassed.)

This is our first experience at this next level; but I have to admit – it’s going very well so far. They write each other notes and have both agreed to take things very slowly and not hurt each other. They’ve already been discussing their differences – one is spontaneous and the other is a planner, one is outgoing, the other is quiet, etc. They’ve been to a movie…but they went with siblings and friends. They’ve danced together…in a group competition that was being judged by their school’s formal night chaperones. They’ve sat side by side late at night on the way home from a track meet…and did Sinbad impersonations and practiced Australian accents. They are both having LOTS of fun, and making me wish I’d been as wise as they are at their age.

I see it as much healthier than the typical, physical oriented dating scene prominent in our culture. There might be some temporal pleasures in that easy come, easy go type of relationship…but I believe the hurt and damage it does in the long run outweigh those temporary gratifications.

If your teens are going to date, then at least encourage them to get creative in their dating and hold off on the physical stuff. Several years ago my brother-in-law did something I considered very creative and sweet. After getting to know his future bride-to-be in group situations with mutual friends, he decided to ask her out on their very first, one on one, date. After going out to eat and taking her to the hospital to visit her grandmother, he took her to the university’s outdoor amphitheater on a lovely starlit night, and they sat on the stage together and colored pictures (with brand new colors and coloring books – who could resist that?!) while talking and getting to know each other better.

Contrary to what society teaches – teens are not mere animals which have to act upon some physical drive that can’t be controlled. They are individuals with a mind and a soul – and that mind and soul should be sought after even more than the body. All of us “old” people can tell you – the body will deteriorate…but the heart and soul of a person will only continue to develop and blossom, if properly handled.