Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter 3

portrait-1212097_960_720This is the final installment of “Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter“. This series of letters has been written as a communication tool only as a way to discuss the often difficult topic of dating  with our children, our expectations as parents, in addition to what we hope and pray they look for and be in a potential spouse.


Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter,

Over the months, we have seen you legitimately love our daughter, not merely the idea of love. Your love for her is not conditional, but is based on your mutual love for Christ and the desire to continue to grow both individually and together in Him. The love you have for one another edifies. It encourages, builds up, and comes alongside her in her rights and in her wrongs, in her joys and in her pains; in her ease and in her struggles. It says I am with you through it all; I want to be with you through it all. Seeing love in action like this brings more than a smile to our faces because it is exactly what Christ had in mind when He put the sacraments of marriage into place and you’ve been taking purposeful steps in this direction for some time.

The fact that your relationship bears a sense of security and protection for our girl, in addition to the fact that your actions match your insightful and focused promises to give her your best causes our hearts to swoon. We can only imagine how she feels!

We have seen your “we” identity grow with each passing month so much so that you’ve become nearly inseparable. Marriage is not such a scary word anymore, but one that ignites an unmatched joy. We knew this day–the day you begin building up the courage to ask us for our blessing to marry our daughter– would come. We’ve been preparing our hearts and minds for it since her birth. Even as we held her in our arms, we knew that one day we would be handing her over to another man worthy of her love and devotion.

We began praying over you the day she was placed into our arms and with each struggle, pressure, etc.  she has encountered throughout the years; we knew you very well might be experiencing similar situations. So as we prayed for wisdom and strength for her, we prayed the same for you. Our hope has been that when your paths finally met (and admittedly, we have been eager to meet the man we will one day call son), you would not only encompass strength, exhibit a character that has elements of depth, wisdom, loyalty, unconditional love for both our girl and Christ, but also who is working toward having martial substance to offer our girl.

Plan Ahead

write-593333_960_720We bet your eyes just widened and a subtle fear rattled your heart upon reading the second part of that statement. It sounds a little scary, perhaps resembling high expectations. Yes, high expectations, but not unattainable. Here’s what we’re talking about. If we were to ask you how you will provide comfort and security for our girl as your soon to-be wife, we hope, even if you have not yet reached these goals, that you have prayed and begun planning so that you are ready to present your best, in both character and provision, to our girl at the time of proposal.

One word of caution: plans for provision do not start once an engagement has taken place. An engagement is a time to plan your wedding and honeymoon and fine-tune—fine-tune, not start, how you will provide.

She is your helpmate, but you are the head of the marriage. We expect that you will take the lead to communicate and take action in this area We’re not asking that you be wealthy or have a multitude of material possessions. No, not at all. What we are asking is that you have an idea of the outward tangible affects you can offer her; things that will not draw her into a life of debt and constant worry about finances. Marriage is hard enough without having to wonder where your next meal is coming from or if the roof over your heads will be there tomorrow.

Love is a great start, but it is not enough.

“A groom who knows he is strong inside faith and character stands tall and proud. He is ready to assume the full responsibilities of marriage with deep, inner assurance that he desires and can provide for his wife” (TN).

Roles

It’s important to talk about the roles in marriage and expectations of one another in those roles. Our girl comes from a tradition home where mom cooks, cleans, rears the kids and works part-time. Dad works full time, mows the lawn, and takes out garbage. He is primarily responsible for paying the bills. Your marriage doesn’t have to look traditional. It does have to be something you legitimately see eye-to-eye on and can live the rest of your days resentment free.man-vacation-people-summer-large

We know the two of you talk at length about everything under the sun. You have talked about your strengths and weaknesses as individuals and what those will look like in a family unit. Differences have the ability to bring depth, perspective, and beauty to a marriage so long as you have a plan for how to deal with them and can communicate respectfully.

Conflicts

Tommy Nelson (I’m such a fan) note that conflicts come from one of five sources: 1) a failure to communicate. 2) financial difficulties 3) sexual difficulties 4) problems with the in-laws or 5) disagreements about child-rearing. Take the time now to discuss your expectations in each of these areas and how you will work toward resolving such issues.

rings-481143_960_720Parents’ Promise

We want to assure you that when you are ready to ask our daughter for her hand in marriage and we see your relationship is rooted and established in Christ in addition to being prepared to care for her to the best of your ability, we will proudly give you our blessing. We will not stand in the way to join what God has brought together. We will welcome you into our family, call you son, and rejoice in the celebration of your union. We will not interfere in your marriage. We fully expect our girl to “leave and cleave” and will encourage her to honor you in every sense of the word. We will pray ceaselessly over your marriage.

Marriage

chapel-966557_960_720We believe marriage is a vow made before God to love the person who is standing by your side regardless of what happens (outside of abuse and marital betrayal) and for as long as you both live. God is the “author”of your relationship. He created you for our girl and our girl for you. He is so over-the-moon exhilarated at your union. Without a doubt, marriage is a public celebration of two flawed people coming together, trusting God to be the “completer” of their relationship. A wedding is a sacred moment. Marriage is a sacred lifetime. It deserves honor, respect, attention, and every effort you can make. Start now.

We treasure the gift you are to both our daughter and to our family. It will be an absolute honor to call you son.

Love,

The Girl You’re Dating Parents


Related Posts:
Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter 1
Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter 2
What I Know Now

Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter 2

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

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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.pexels-photo-large

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.
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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”.

man girl bikeDating 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!

Love,

The Girl You’re Dating’s Parents


Related Posts:
Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter 1
What I Know Now

Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter 1

Preface

From the time I was a little girl, I knew I was meant to be a mother. My greatest fear, other than the dark, at nine years old, was that I would die before I would marry and have children. I made my list of “must-have qualities”  for my future spouse and hoped and prayed that such a man existed. To be completely honest, in the beginning, a lot of guys existed that met my simple-minded criteria, but with each new crush or Lifetime movie that aired on TV, my list stretched and evolved into one that vaguely resembled my 1980-something list! Thank God too, or else I would have ended up with someone like Dukes of Hazard’s hottie, Bo Duke played by John Schneider (not that there’s anything wrong with a flannel wearing, muscle-car jumping, justice fighter!!!). Ironically, I did marry a Schneider. I like to think of this as God’s nod my way!
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The good Lord was kind to me by bringing Dennis into my life when He did because I was starting to fret no one would want me, the real me. I was 18, so this thought now, seems utterly ridiculous! Thinking through some of the false beliefs that plagued me back then and the actions I took in response slay me now. In hindsight, I still would have married Dennis because he is such a remarkable man of God and loves me better than I love him, but I would have done things differently—correction, not “things”, EVERYTHING differently. I learned so much about myself, about the beauty of God’s redemptive grace and forgiveness, and so much more that it has 100% changed how I look at dating, my own daughters, and their suitors! To date myself and to channel yet another 80’s TV program, The A-Team, “I pity the fool” who desires to date my daughter! (I’m totally laughing at myself!!!)

Actually, I don’t! Dennis has jokingly said to the girls on multiple occasions,
“God and I will get together and let you know when we’ve found a man worthy of you. Until then, stop looking”.

I don’t want my girls to settle for less than God’s best for them and because they, or at least one of them, is boy crazy like her mama was, I know how easy it is to overlook some traits, justify others, and imagine others are seeds just ready to spring into existence. I know red flags when I see them, quite possibly because they look a little like long-lost friends!

So over the course of the next few weeks, I will be writing a short series of letters to the boy(s) my daughters will someday date. Of course, I will not actually give these letters to the boys. They will serve more as a communication tool for my girls.


Dear Boy Dating Our Daughter,

Before we even met you, we liked you. We liked you because you saw something of great value in our daughter. Sure, her twinkly brown eyes and darling dimples drew you in the moment you saw her. Her readily, contagious, boisterous laugh where you can literally see all her teeth at one time– and even, if you’re close enough—and you’ve no right to be yet—see that she still has her tonsils, made you want to know what her secret is to genuine happiness.

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Look at the joy!

You’ve seen that she’s strong, determined, and will stand up for herself and for justice at all costs and in the next moment you’ve seen her giddy “as if carried by the wings of euphoria”. She’s a dreamer and adventurer, while being grounded in logic and reality. She loves to push the limits, but also has unfathomable respect for the rules. She loves deeply and quickly all whom she allows into her small, guarded world. She is the perfect balance of tenderness and strength. You see that. You like that. And it scares the crap out of us…because we have to trust you. We have to trust that you’re going to protect her heart. And that means putting her needs ahead of your own. This is hard and sometimes doesn’t seem fair. You’ve no reason to believe us, but we promise, she’s worth it! She really is. We hope you can not only live with that, but find joy in living a warrior’s life.

One of the things that scare us about you dating our daughter is that relationships often begin based on physical attraction, affecting all our senses. And as wonderful as that is—and it is, it leaves a relationship incomplete; empty.  If you base your relationship solely on physical attraction, your relationship will only be as deep as that beauty. It will be pretty…but shallow. We want more for our daughter. We want more for you.

You might not hear many parents say this, but we really want you to get to know our girl from the inside out. This takes time, lots of time. We will give it to you freely. We will not hold you back. We will encourage and support this relationship, but also, like a new bowler, we will put bumpers in place, in hopes to guide your relationship towards its absolute best, not as a way to confine you. It takes spiritual discernment and objectivity to understand and genuinely know a person’s character and spiritual nature, so it is our hope that you take the time necessary to know what makes her heart tick (her innermost beliefs, goals, dreams, desires) and that you will encourage and challenge her to grow to new heights. We desire that she’ll do that for you as well. Relationships grow and change, morph and stretch. When they don’t, they’re in trouble. We’re rooting for you! Don’t get into trouble.

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On that note, you have no idea just how much we have prayed for you over the years (since her infancy).  We know you have your own story, joys, struggles, pains, and past. You will find no judgement here because we know these things have chiseled and deeply etched your heart, bringing to the forefront a character that otherwise may not have been revealed. It is our hope for you, let alone our girl, that your story is being manifested in holiness, honesty, morality, temperance, and commitment. In short, that you are in the process of becoming the man God destined you to be. Not for our girl’s sake, but for yours.
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We should not have to remind you that she is a princess; flawed, certainly, but her identity cannot be found in those flaws, but more so in Who Christ she says she is–and He calls her daughter!  If you do not see that, then it was nice knowing you. I realize that sounds harsh, but life is too short to hope and pray that one day you will see her value. She is worth more, far more, than you are able to see right now. If you do see her as a princess, you know that her virtue is her gift to you and her character is meant to compliment yours. These are only two of the three foundational pieces in which to begin building a relationship. The third? Gosh, we hope we don’t have to tell you!

Faith! You cannot, cannot have a healthy and lasting relationship without Christ being in the center. Ecclesiastics 4:12 points out that “…a cord of three stands is not quickly broken”. Living out your faith together will draw you closer together than any other thing in the world. And not to keep quoting scripture, but Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. It is our hope that the two of you cultivate a beautiful, intimate relationship with Christ and live your faith out loud. We pray that you would stand by one another as you both pursue all that God has in store for you as individuals and as a couple, and that you would be obedient to Him first and foremost. No guy or girl is ever worth compromising your faith! If she pulls you away from Christ in any way, kick her to the curb. Clearly, she isn’t ready for you!

Genuine faith brings forth a servant’s heart and is quick to give to others, go the extra mile, offer help, volunteer in the face of need. Having a servant’s heart is one that lives to give–for others; never for self or to gain. We live to this standard—however, imperfectly. Pastor and author Tommy Nelson says it perfectly when he says, “A godly person with active faith, who is quick to serve has the full stamp of approval by God”. If this is how you live your life, you too, have our approval!
hands-437968_1920We want the best for our daughter. We want the best for you, too. And to both of you, we would advise that you don’t settle for less than God’s best for you. If our girl is not meant to be your someday-wife, that’s OK. We are not putting the cart before the horse here at all! Gosh no! But we would ask that you keep in mind that one day she will be someone’s wife, someone’s mother. How you treat her, speak to her, show her love and respect—she will take with her into each of those relationships. You will be part of her story. If you eventually part ways, leave her better than you found her; leave her believing in herself a little more, and ultimately, leave her a little closer to Christ. But we hope you won’t leave her—because we kind of like you too!

Love,
The Girl You’re Dating’s Parents

 


Like I mentioned in the preface, I am not really sending this letter to my daughters’ significant others. How mortifying would that be for them?!!! This letter hardly scratches the surface of all I would like to communicate to such suitors, but it begins the important conversations.

I would love to hear your stories, the advice your parents gave you, the advice you wished your parents gave you. What would you tell your own son/daughter about dating?