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Friday, September 27, 2013

Kids and Going Steady? When should we allow love to be aroused?

I knew there would come a day when we would discus this issue as a family. I just never realized it would be so early. In fact the first time this issue came up in our family conversation was 3 years ago. My children were participating in our local Pee Wee football league. My daughter was on the Pee Wee cheer team-(age 8), and my son was on the Pee Wee Football team (age 11). Now the ages of the children in this league are K-5th grade ( 5 years-12 years old. ) It was a normal occurrence for these children to have "girlfriends" and "boyfriends". These children would tell my husband and I that "so and so" was their boyfriend or girlfriend and that they were going steady with them. These children would often ride together to games in other cities-with the family of their boyfriend or girlfriend. So one set of parents might travel to an away game by themselves, so their child could ride with their boyfriend or girlfriend. These parents even encouraged this. In fact one of my daughter's friends was given a ring by a boy who was 7 and in the same grade as she was. Both the parents thought this was really cute and they encouraged this relationship. So my children were the odd ones out here, because we explained there would not be any of this behavior going on with them. They could have friends of another gender but they would not be called "their boyfriend, girlfriend, and they would not be going steady with them". (Whatever that is supposed to mean at this early age.)
At homecoming these young boys escorted these young girls onto the field, bought them corsages etc. So as this was happening all around us-we were talking at home about what we felt was appropriate regarding boy/girl relationships among children.
Over the past few years-we have reiterated to our children-why we see things the way we do concerning romantic relationships among children. There is a place and a time for a relationship like this. The time is not now, so let's move on.
Now the issue wasn't a huge deal for us-until our children moved up into the youth group at church.
Since they are homeschooled they are not around this type of behavior that goes on daily.  It seems most of the boys in youth have girlfriends and brag about it. Some bring their boyfriends and girlfriends to youth with them, if they are not members of our church. Or perhaps they are in a relationship with someone in the youth group. Call me strange-but why can't we all just be friends? Really? Why does there seem to be this pressure-on my children to get a boyfriend, or get a girlfriend so they can be "in" like the other children. Why are they being teased because they don't engage in this behavior? I really don't get it. This is happening IN THE CHURCH and even encouraged by Christian parents. This isn't just in the school yard-or out on the streets. (Am I really from another planet here?)
I really don't see the benefit of these type of relationships. In my mind the purpose of a romantic relationship is to see if you are compatible for marriage. At age 11 and 13 -children are not ready to be considering marriage. So why can't they just be friends. Why isn't this behavior being encouraged by parents. Why do so many just go with the flow here-because that is what happens when children get to this age. I believe children can remain friends-and over years build that friendship-then when they are at a time in life where they can begin considering a long term commitment to someone else they can.
Maybe I feel this way because of my own experience at love and relationships. All the years I wasted looking for love in all the wrong places. Finding my identity in constantly having to be in a relationship in high school. If I broke up with a boy one day, then next day I had a new boyfriend. It wasn't cool, to not have a boyfriend. I constantly felt like I was ok if someone was my boyfriend. I spent most of my senior year of high school-physically sick over a romantic relationship that wasn't good for me. I had tried love- outside of God. I had not sought God, or his timing, or His will in the matter. In fact I wasn't even the type of person I needed to be-to be a blessing to someone else in a relationship.
Then I surrendered my life to Christ. I found love in the right place and got my identity in His love. God showed me to set down my relationships for a period of time.  For 3 years I did not date, etc. During this time, I just hung out with the singles at church. We did fun things in groups, but I didn't date them. Then one day, in God's perfect timing, He brought the right person into my life, and I knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I knew that waiting on God and His timing was the best thing for me. No more heartache.
The following verse is another translation of this verse.

The Woman Speaks to the Friends

·Women [L Daughters] of Jerusalem [1:5], ·promise me [I adjure you]
    by the gazelles and the deer of the field [C in Hebrew sounds like “by the (Lord) of Hosts” or “by God Almighty”]
not to awaken
    or ·excite [arouse] love
until it ·is ready [so desires; C likely a warning to the women to wait for love until the right person comes along; 3:5; 8:4].
So we are still teaching and mentoring our children about waiting on God and His timing for this type of relationship. There will be a time for it. But that time is not today. And just because many others are doing it, doesn't mean it is the best thing.
So I guess I will begin hunting for books on courtship and a deeper study of God's word in how we continue to handle this subject.