Last week, I began a short dating series titled “Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter”. These letters will serve solely as a communication tool for my girls. In no way would I ever consider actually sending these letters. I’m pretty sure any boy interested in our girls would run for the hills! I decided to write this series because my own dating experiences were…subpar and completely misguided. It is my hope that my girls don’t date as a way to find their identity, but as way to live fully in who Christ already says they are.
Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter,
We see how you open the door for our daughter, caution her to watch her step when you see an obstacle ahead, how you offer her your coat when you sense she is cold. We see how you look into her eyes as she talks and how you follow up with thoughtful questions in hopes to understand her better or challenge her to think or see things from a different perspective. You are a gentleman. It seems as if you know that romance and respect are closely linked.
A woman who feels respected automatically feels as if she is being romanced.
We’re not saying be romantic to or with our daughter. We’re saying, be respectful to our daughter. They look different, sound different, and in the end, respect will gain you a girl who will fawn over you far more than if you simply tell her she’s beautiful. If you struggle to show her respect, she will struggle to believe you really care and (eventually) love her. Your choice, but choose wisely.
The more time you spend dating, the greater your respect should become for one another. How and where you spend your time together is critical to the health and success of your relationship. Although you might balk at the parameters we set in place, such as spending short periods of time together, but over a prolonged period—and in a public setting, let us explain why. First, as a built-in safeguard against temptations and secondly, because as you spend time together, you talk about a variety of issues—some deep, some not so deep; you experience one another in a variety of situations that bring out different levels of stress, joy, and comfortableness. If you keep plowing ahead without taking time to digest what you’re discovering in one another, you may miss some valuable follow-up conversations. Remember, dating is an evaluation time. You don’t need to hurry the process. Hurrying always leads to mistakes. We’ve mentioned to our girl that dating is like savoring an exquisite piece of chocolate, not inhaling it.
What we know of you so far is delightful. Admittedly, we even get a little weepy because we love seeing our girl so happy. But, we’re cautious still because we also know that ANY MAN can do romantic things for a period of time, be on his best behavior for a season or two, show good manners, even exhibit respect for a while. “A while” or “a season or two” isn’t good enough. Sorry. A real man doesn’t “win” her over and then regress back to animal kingdom! No, a REAL MAN listens and continues to listen, even to the words unspoken. It’s called being present, being intentional.
“Listening is a universal sign of wisdom” (I wish I knew whom to credit for those well strung words).
It nearly goes without saying that good listening results in better understanding. Good listening leads to asking thoughtful questions. Put another way: Good listening plus good questions leads to seeing the person’s inner thoughts and convictions. Listening sees the real person. This is where respect will be nurtured and has the ability to lead to a lifetime of mutual admiration.
Dear boy, you have to know we have raise our girl grounded in respect (it is *the* keyword in our house). She will respect you before you have done anything to deserve it. She will build you up, encourage you, support you any way she knows how—and even in ways she has yet to learn. She understands your reputation is the very rhythm of your heart and she will live to honor you in that place. She will always act on behalf of your best interests, even if you do not always see her actions as such. We have raised her to look upon you as “the only apple tree in a pine forest”. You are the object of her delight, but she lives to a high standard—as we hope that you do as well.
The standard? God’s. Yep, His. It is our hope that you have such reverence for God’s standard that you would honor it and never allow your own agenda or “needs” to supersede His. God has called you to be a warrior—to love our girl as Christ loved the church. God’s plan for you is His best, it’s completely necessary, scandalously ridged, and incomprehensibly rewarding. Don’t let anything sneak in to spoil the purity of your relationship. This requires constant evaluation, endlessly battening down the hatches, unceasing prayer for protection and strength.
Obviously, we’ve talked all about sex without actually mentioning that awesome three letter word! To paint a better word picture, I’ll borrow Tommy Nelson’s analogy:
“Would you set a fire in your living room? No? Do you have a fire place in your home? If you have a fireplace, you likely set a fire in your living room, but you keep it contained in the device made explicitly for keeping a fire contained—your fireplace made of brick, glass, and metal, with pokers and screens all designed to keep the fire precisely where you want it. That same analogy applies to sexual fire in a relationship. Keep in bounds. A fire kept in bounds provides warmth, happiness, and comfort. Out of bounds it destroys everything in its path”.
Dating is exhilarating. We love that you are investing in our girl. Please pace yourselves, not because we are crazy, slightly over-protective parents (!), but because ultimately you desire to live out your relationship according to God’s plans, not yours—not even ours. Eventually, the two of you will develop something so precious—a “we” identity—this is what we call the sweet spot. It’s where you’ll shine more brightly because you’re working together, pulling together, dreaming together. This togetherness is worth fighting for. Warrior on!
The Girl You’re Dating’s Parents