Why We Will Encourage Our Children NOT to Pursue Dating

The-Courtship

 

I realize that we are pretty old fashioned in our way of thinking, and I am certain that most “normal” people think we’re absolutely nuts, but after years of God working on our hearts, my husband and I have prayerfully come to the decision that we will not be encouraging our children to pursue dating. We will instead encourage them to consider courting as an alternative.

First and foremost, please understand that we are by no means forbidding them to date. The choice will ultimately be up to them. However, as they grow we will be teaching them the difference between dating and courting, and gently encouraging them to pray about courting and see where God leads them.

So now the big question… WHY?? It’s both very simple, and also rather complicated.

I don’t want my children to make the same mistakes I made. I have blogged about my testimony in the past, and in it I mentioned that I have gone “too far” in past relationships without being married. I am not the least bit proud of those choices, but I did learn from them. Possibly the most important thing I learned is that when two young people who are attracted to one another spend large amounts of time alone together, bad things tend to happen – things that are designed to be enjoyed strictly within the boundaries marriage. One of the tenets of courting is that the couple spends time getting to know one another with others around, so as to maintain accountability and uphold their mutual desire to remain pure until marriage. My children, although young, already show a great love of the Lord and a desire to be obedient both to the Lord and to my husband and myself. I have no doubt that they will want to save themselves for marriage. I am also certain that they will seek out potential spouses that will share that desire. The whole concept of courting respects the wish to maintain purity until marriage, and involves friends and family who will help the young couple stand by that ultimate goal.

The other big reason I have become a proponent of courtship versus dating is that it involves the families of the couple. When I married for the first time, I was impulsive and foolish, and I paid the price for that. I did not seek to involve my family in the decision to marry. I realized after that fact that if I had, it may have saved me a great deal of loss and heartache. Our family knows us better than we know ourselves. We may get caught up in the feelings of a new relationship and lose sight of what’s important to us. We can be blinded by love to the extent of not being able to see clear warning signs. Involving family in our romantic relationships not only maintains accountability, but it also keeps us grounded. My husband and I would like to be a part of that process. While we certainly do not intend to make the decision for our children, we do have a great desire to get to know these marriage candidates and to have an open relationship with our children, where our children can hear our input and where they feel free to discuss their concerns with us.

Courting is intentional, as opposed to dating which is often times extremely casual. Also, we will encourage our children not enter into a courtship before they are mature enough to handle a serious relationship. Unlike dating where you tend to get to know the person on a deeper level after becoming committed and emotionally involved (and, often times, physically involved), courtship works the opposite way. You get to know the person on a friendship level first; then, if there is a bond, you enter into courtship where you begin to get to know the person on a deeper, more intimately emotional level. If in fact the relationship is meant to lead to marriage, then engagement and marriage will follow. Only after marriage do you get to know the person physically.

I think the thing that I love the most about courtship is that it supports the values we cherish as a family, while helping our children to find the spouse that God has intended for them. It’s a beautiful, pure, edifying, and God-glorifying thing, and we look forward to the time when our children enter that season of life.

The Luxurious Life of a Stay-at-Home Mom

I frequently get the comment that it must be nice to have the luxury of staying home with my children. I will always smile and say, “Yes, I am very thankful!” and move along. Yes, it’s true, I am thankful, but to be honest I am walking away from the person silently laughing and rolling my eyes. The luxury of staying home? Seriously?? Either these people have never had children that they spend any amount of time interacting with, or it has been too long since their children were young and they have simply forgotten what life with young children is actually like.

Allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine rolling out of bed in the morning after a particularly long and sleepless night. It’s 5:30 and the baby is crying (again), so you go to comfort her. Within minutes, the 7 year old wakes up and loudly bounds out of her room, practically singing “Good morning, Mommy!” (She’s a morning person. Something is very wrong with her.) Her loudly expressed happiness at greeting the new day then wakes the 2 year old who cries for Daddy, but she cannot have Daddy because Daddy is getting ready for work. So, there you are trying to nurse the baby while your 2 year old cries like she just lost her best friend in the world. (Did I mention it’s 5:30 in the morning?) Inevitable, all that ruckus wakes the 3 year old, who is now crying too and wanting to be picked up, but your lap is currently occupied, which leads to even more hysterics from the 3 year old.

Eventually, you get everyone happy with the help of Bubble Guppies and attempt to head downstairs for a cup of coffee when the baby sees you tiptoeing away and begins to holler. So, you make the pot of coffee with the baby on your hip and can’t help but chuckle at the cliche. Before you can even get one sip of the energy-giving nectar, the 2 and 3 year old begin fighting upstairs. You listen for a little while, waiting to see if they will be able to settle the squabble amongst themselves. Then comes the dreaded THUD immediately followed by crying. You fly upstairs and find one child lying flat on the floor, and the other one standing defiantly above her with a baby doll in her arms, and you can only assume that is the item that was the source of all the fighting. The crying one gets up, yanks the doll out of her sister’s arms, which leads to more screaming, and then in an instant they are rolling around on the floor in a full-blown cat fight. You get them separated, discipline, etc. Finally, you remember your cup of coffee, which is now cold. You stick it in the microwave to warm it up, and before it finishes nuking you have another minor catastrophe to contend with. Then the 3 year old announces that she has to go potty, so you take her and find that she has pooped in her underwear. Too bad she pulled her underwear off and climbed on the potty before you could clean her up, so now that’s another lovely mess to clean up.

You get everyone happy, clean, and then head downstairs where everyone is fed breakfast (except you, of course) and then look at the clock and realize it’s time to start school with the 7 year old. And then you remember that cup of coffee. You press the quick start button on the microwave and walk the 7 year old to the school room with the intention of grabbing the coffee as soon as the microwave beeps. You get the oldest situated with her lessons for the day, then head back to the kitchen to pull the baby out of the highchair, only to discover that she has somehow managed to climb out of it herself, and is now sitting in the middle of the table finger painting with her oatmeal, as well as with the bowls of oatmeal that her sisters apparently refused to eat. It’s everywhere. In her hair, all over her clothes, covering the highchair and table, and even some on the walls behind her. (How did she manage to make that big of a mess in, like, 3 minutes??) Guess that coffee will have to wait a little longer. Off to the bath with the baby! And of course, the 2 and 3 year old want to join, so here we are having our evening bath routine at 8 in the morning. Being the young children they are, they make a huge mess, spilling tub water all over the bathroom floor, which you then clean up with towels when they are all done. (Hey, that counts as mopping, right?) You then remember that you still have an oatmeal mess to clean up, so you head down to do that after distracting the kids with Bubble Guppies yet again. (Yes, I am *that* mom.) Once you get downstairs, you hear the oldest in the schoolroom crying. Apparently she had a question about her lesson and you never heard her calling for you while you were bathing the younger 3, so she’s now in the middle of a nuclear meltdown. You get her calm, help her, and then head out to the kitchen to clean up the mess. Then remember your coffee sitting in the microwave. But, before you can even heat it up someone is crying again, so off you go to put out another fire. And another. And another.

Finally, you get everyone down for a nap at 11, finish up lessons with the 7 year old and send her off to play, and sit down to enjoy your cup of coffee and have a quick bite to eat. But the peace is short-lived as the baby decides to cut her nap short. Here we go again.

This is, unfortunately, a true story. This was my day 2 days ago, and is a perfect example of what my life is like every. single. day. Yes, I am thankful to be home with my girls, and yes, this was a choice we made, but please don’t think it’s easy or luxurious. I get pooped on, peed on on, thrown up on, and covered in my kids’ food. I rarely get to enjoy wearing stain-free clothes all day long. Getting a shower two days in a row is so rare, I almost feel guilty when it happens. And using the bathroom in peace? I’ve just given up entirely on that dream. I clean up messes that take hoarders years to achieve that my kids manage to make in 10 minutes flat. I work from morning till night, and then I’m on-call all night, too. It’s not a glamorous job, make no mistake. Is it rewarding? Heck yeah. But it’s also the hardest, most exhausting job I have ever done.

I get so frustrated with the careless comments stay-at-home moms get from others. I’m sure people are mostly well-meaning, but I also think there’s a pervasive mentality behind those works that speaks of our culture’s attitude toward stay-at-home moms. As a SAHM I am told to tiptoe around the feelings of working moms, lest I say something that might offend them or demean what they do. But, yet people can throw out callous, hurtful remarks about me being “just” a SAHM or assume that my life must be luxurious, as though I am sitting on the couch all day watching soap operas while my children somehow stay perpetually happy and care for themselves and never, ever make messes. Look, we ALL are parents, and we ALL work hard, regardless of where we work. I’m not going to belittle moms who work, so please don’t belittle us moms who stay home, because we work too. Let’s just focus on uplifting one another, and try to choose our words a little more carefully, okay? This world would be such a better place to live if we could all simply support and encourage instead of tearing down.

The Importance of Being Real

I love Facebook. Anyone who knows me knows I spend way too much time on that website. Since moving over a thousand miles away from family and friends, and then 5 years doing it again, I can tell you right now that Facebook has been an amazing way of keeping in contact with loved ones. They can read updates about our new life on the east coast, see photos of the kids, and be able to still be a part of our lives even though we can’t see them in person anymore.

That said, there is one thing that I really, really, really dislike about Facebook. It is so easy to be fake. And likewise, it’s very easy to read only the good things about other people’s lives and thus naively (and incorrectly, I might add) make the assumption that this person’s life must be perfect. Conversely, when all of someone’s posts are negative, it’s easy to draw the assumption that the person must be a Negative Nelly. I can attest to this, because I have been on both sides of the fence. There was a period of time in my life that was not easy for our family so just about every post I made was some form of a rant, and it interfered with real relationships because people were only seeing me complaining. Once I was confronted with that, my pendulum swung the complete opposite direction and I was then told more than once that my life must have been so perfect, I must have such a wonderful marriage and well-behaved children, etc etc etc – all because I was trying to make up for my previous mistake of always being negative by always being overly positive. I felt like I couldn’t win!

Thankfully, I have had some time to grow up a little when it comes to the online world. I have realized that no one is perfect. No one’s life is supposed to be a dream. (And, really, how much fun would I be if I never made a mistake I had to learn from, or never had parenting mishaps to share with you all to make you laugh?) Here’s how I see it. My online me is just an extension of the real me. The real me is very human, very flawed, and very in need of a Savior. I have highs and lows, just like everyone else. I have awesome days when I want to sing for joy, and I have days when I just want to crawl into a hole and be left the heck alone. I think it’s awesome to have a place like Facebook where I can share these highs and lows with those people I know actually care.

The challenge I have given myself is this: I am committing to being “real” when I’m online. When my day stinks, I shouldn’t be afraid to vent. It’s okay. We ALL have those days, and it’s amazing how comforting it can be to simply have someone say, “I’ve been there, I understand.” When I just had the best day ever, I don’t want to feel like I shouldn’t share that because someone who is having a rough time might read it and feel even worse. I have been there too, and the truth is, I often find it uplifting to step outside of myself and my own problems and to simply be happy for someone else. It’s some seriously awesome therapy, let me tell ya! I am putting to rest the desire to “keep up with the Joneses.” No more always try to make my life appear perfect. Instead of focusing on painting the perfect portrait of a life for others to see, I will think about how I can be more encouraging and uplifting to others. I don’t know about you, but I need a healthy dose of REAL in my life!

Will you join me in this challenge?

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