PARENTING FROM THE VIEW OF TEENAGER

Dating: Part Two: How You’re Raised Makes All the Difference

Part Two of Dating is for parents.

Parents, of course, make all the difference when it comes to their kid’s dating life. You have the power to mold their view on who they should want, how they expect to be treated, their motives for dating, etc. The way my parents handled dating with us is probably one of the main reasons why I’ve had such an easy high school experience. It’s made all the difference with my friends, my reputation, my feelings, and so many other things. They protected my heart from being broken over and over. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER THAT YOU HAVE!

So part two of dating is all about how the way I was raised impacted my views on dating.

The Pros and Cons of Dating:

An important fact about my childhood is that I have always been allowed to date. We never had a rule about waiting until we were in college, or eighteen, or sixteen to start dating. The decision that all three of us made to hold off on dating was entirely our own. Were we uninterested in the opposite sex, no, not at all. I love men; they love women. That has never been a problem. I attribute our individual decisions to many things; but one thing, in particular, that stands out is what we call, “Weighing the pros and cons”.  This was a technique that my parents used to let us talk ourselves out of dating. Whenever we would ask them if we could date someone, they would have us weigh the pros and cons of being in a relationship at our age. For example, here is what the pros and cons were for me when I was in middle school:

Pros Cons
It’s cool to have a boyfriend You ignore your other friends
It feels good to date Heartbreak is almost inevitable
It’s fun at the time If/when you break up, he becomes baggage
You get to feel another person’s “love Friends get jealous
Boys aren’t mature yet
He can’t drive, and if he can, he’s too old for you
You start playing the “dating game”, so you become less of a challenge for guys.
It’s a distraction
Rumors can spread
He doesn’t have a job, so he can’t buy you things or take you to nice places

These are just some of them.

So looking at this chart, does dating look like it’s worth it at that age? No. I only just thought of those examples off the top of my head. My parents never told me them, they let me decide. So, after going through the list, I remembered why I didn’t want to start dating yet.

This pros and cons system is brilliant for many reasons. I will go down the list.

Reasons Why the Pros and Cons List is BRILLIANT:

  1. I MADE MY OWN DECISION!!!  I can’t even stress to you enough why this is important. This concept changes everything.
  1. You can’t change the behavior without changing their minds. The pros and cons list was used to let me convince myself why dating was a bad idea when I was younger. My parents got their point across without making any rules.
  • There is no way that I would’ve gone seventeen years without dating if my parents had just told me not to. NO WAY. I’ve always been very impulsive and rebellious. If not for my own pleasure, I would’ve dated out of rebellion. It’s not enough to just say, “No”. You have to take the time to explain why. If you don’t explain why, or show that it’s important, then it will turn into “just one of those rules they make for no reason, or so they don’t have to deal with it”. If it turns into that kind of rule, then they’ll just do it behind your back. It’s so much easier if you can find a way to make them agree with you, that way they will want to obey. The pros and cons list allowed it to because my decision, even though it was theirs. They influenced it, yes, but I made the final decision. I didn’t have to follow my parent’s rules on dating because I made my own.
  1. Your kids won’t hate you… as much
  • I never hated my parents. Ever. I could’ve, if they’d done it differently, but they didn’t. Dating is one of the things that could’ve made me hate them. But they handled it correctly.
  1. This goes hand-in-hand with making my own decisions. My parents handled it so that they were on my side, defending my decision, instead of fighting against me, telling me why I’m wrong. They were never the enemy. They let me weigh the pros and cons of dating, let me make my own decision, and made themselves my coaches, playing on the same team instead of being my opponents. This spares us COUNTLESS arguments.

It really is a brilliant technique.

 

No Need for Dating:

My blog post titled, “Daddy Dates” covers this whole point, basically. For more detail, read that post.

The gist of it, though, as it applies to dating, is that my dating life was greatly influenced by my relationship with my dad, as well as my brothers.

Every girl has an emotional “tank” that needs to be filled with her father’s love, and then the love of her husband; A need for the acceptance of a man. I believe that it is a characteristic that God designed for the same purpose He has for love in general. The instinctual need to be accepted and loved by a father, or a masculine figure, I think, has to do with our Heavenly Father’s love for us, as His daughters. Just like marriage and the love between man and wife is supposed to symbolize the marriage and love between God and the Church, I think that God wants us girls to have a taste of His love for us by experiencing the love our daddies have for their little girls. I may be TOTALLY wrong, but based on what I’ve read in the bible, that’s how I think.images (2)

So this “tank” we girls have is a sensitive thing. If our daddies properly fill it up, then we are satisfied and don’t need to look any further until the time comes when they look for a husband. However, many daddies aren’t fully aware of this tank. So, unfortunately, their girls don’t get what they need. If a girl’s love “tank” isn’t filled with their daddy’s love, then they will go to someone else to fill it. This emotional need MUST be met. If this emotional need is not met, it can cause serious problems such as depression, low self-esteem, and plenty of other problems. So a girl WILL find a way to fix it. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, they will do ANYTHING to get their fix. So they’ll end up in an abusive relationship but do nothing about it because either they don’t feel like their worth it, or they’re that desperate to feel that “love” from a man.

It doesn’t always become that intense, but it can. In many cases, girls who start dating at a very young age, and/or are serial daters have this problem. They look anywhere to find a boy/guy/man to fill up their tank. They often get their hearts broken over and over in the effort to fulfil that emotional need to be loved by a man.

My daddy saved me from this. He went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that my “love tank” was so full, that it took me years to even know that I had one. My needs were satisfied to the point where I didn’t even know that I had them. My tank was never less than full. Because of this, I never felt the need to start dating. All I saw in dating was recreational fun. Yes, I thought it would be fun, but I never once felt the need to date. I never needed the “love” or acceptance of another man because I already had all that I needed. I will never be able to fully understand from how much heartache my dad protected me.

My dad protected my heart with everything he had. He did anything and everything he could to ensure that my heart was thoroughly guarded and safe. Because of this, my heart has been kept in perfect condition for the man I’ll one day marry.

Watching and Waiting before You Start Dating:

It’s a dumb little rhyme, but it’s very useful. This point is going to be better explored in my next post, but I’ll go ahead and get it started.

One of the best things that I learned by waiting to date, is to watch and wait. My parents taught me this. There have been plenty of times when I’ve been interested in a guy, but since I didn’t date, I just became friends with him. 99% of the time, when I got to know him, he no longer interested me. If I had immediately wanted to date him I would’ve only looked at the thinks I liked, then if we started dating, I would quickly see that I didn’t really like him at all. Then before you know it, feelings are hurt, friendships are ruined, and baggage begins to pile. Most of those guys are some of my best friends, today. I’ll never date any of them, but I value their friendship.

In many cases, it’s one of those, “light travels faster than sound” things. They may seem really bright, until you hear them speak. If you just wait and watch before pursuing a relationship, you can easily rule the ones who lose your interest. Simple as that.

My next post will give a good example of this.

Set Standards:

It’s really important to know what you’re looking for. You don’t want to find just anybody, regardless of what kind of dating you’re into.

When I was about fourteen, I made a list of standards for my future boyfriend. I still have it today. I made a list to remind myself what kind of man I want, and who to look for. The lists that I made as a little girl were mostly superficial things, but this one had my real requirements based on beliefs, values, and characteristics. My list was based on what I saw in my dad. I didn’t want an exact copy of my dad, but I wanted a man who would treat me like my dad has always treated my mom. I didn’t want anything less than what was on my list, because I knew that a man with all of those hard to find qualities was no fairytale, because I saw all of them in my dad. My mom and dad’s marriage is a fairytale, but it’s real, so I know it can be achieved. My dad set the standards for my future husband, and my parents set the standards for my future marriage. It’s no daydream because I’ve seen it done my whole life.

If my relationship with my dad was different, and my parent’s marriage was different, then my standards would be different. I wouldn’t expect the best if I didn’t know it was out there. And I was happy wait as long as I needed for the right man to make that dream a reality.

My mom said that their marriage based on this phrase: “Choose wisely; treat kindly”.

Choose the right person, and then treat them with kindness. They live by that phrase, and I’ve seen how it works.

Recognizing Your Own Flaws:

My parents have always been good about recognizing their flaws. They know where they struggle, and they admit it when they’re at fault. There have been plenty of instances when one of my parents had a fault pointed out to them, respectfully, and if they’re in the wrong they effortlessly apologize. Instead of continuing with the same flaw, they work to change it. They’ve taught me to find my own shortcomings instead of just look for them in others.

I knew from the beginning that the man who I date and hopefully marry would have to live up to nearly impossible standards. I am basically the carbon-copy of my mom, but I also have many handed-down characteristics of my dad. I have a whole post coming up about my mom, so you’ll get to know her better later; I’ve written a lot about my dad, so you may have some understanding of his ways.

My parents are both very easy going. There isn’t a high-strung person in my family. We’ve always been very go-with-the-flow about things. Fortunately, I have that trait. I was raised in a very fun, exciting, peaceful, loving, consistent, nurturing environment. I was raised that way. My parents have never been quick to accuse, short-tempered, irritable, or irrational. I’ve always appreciated that. I have my dad’s attention span, my mom’s mannerisms, my dad’s socially extroverted personality, but my mom’s shyness, my dad’s impishness, my mom’s nocturnal habits, and plenty of other things.

However, I also have plenty of flaws. When you’re thinking of what you want in a spouse, you have to think about what a spouse would want in you. In order to find a good husband/wife, you need to look at yourself and see what you have to offer. Why would someone want to marry you?

I’ve thought about this a lot. Yes, I have some good characteristics, but I also have many, many bad ones. Some, I can work on to change; but others are things that I can’t help.

Some flaws of mine that I can and do work on are things like, irritability, impatience, self-centeredness, impulsiveness, being inconsiderate, difficulty keeping things clean, and being annoying. These are things I work on daily. They are real struggles of mine. I’m much better about these things than I used to be. I have worked hard to improve. But the first step was recognizing my flaws. It’s easy to overlook our own flaws, because they usually don’t bother us. But in order to be a good girlfriend/wife, I have to prepare myself to be as perfect as I can be for him by working to get rid of these flaws.

Unfortunately, I have some flaws that I can either do very little to help or nothing at all. Some of them are completely out of my control. For example, I have a sensory disorder called Misophonia that causes certain sounds to suddenly enrage me if I hear them. This is something that had caused me problems throughout my whole life. I just all of the sudden get angry and I can’t calm down until the noise stops. Some of these noises include: breathing, whistling, humming, certain vocal tones/inflections, breathing, soft/quiet, music, chewing, certain words, breathing, and… the sound of a strumming guitar. These are the main offenders.  This has played a MAJOR role in all of my relationships because I cannot be around people who make these noises. I have learned to stay calm and not yell at people, but it is still a major problem. This drastically narrowed down the potential suitors. I always knew that I would need a man who would make none of these noises, and who wouldn’t ever make a game of it, or provoke me.

Another major flaw that I have to take into consideration is my emotional instability. I suffer with chronic, severe anxiety and occasionally struggle with depression. Anxiety can be crippling and depression can be crushing. It affects every aspect of my life. It’s a struggle that I have accepted, but still have to deal with. I’ve always known that his flaw can be very detrimental to a relationship, so I knew to look for someone who can be strong when I can’t be, as well as patient when I struggle.

Another thing I can’t help is a little something called ADHD. I can work on it, yes, but it is a problem. I have a very short attention span and I can be quite impulsive. I can also come across uninterested because sometimes I “change channels” while someone is talking to me, or walk away. It not because I’m uninterested, it’s just because my brain decides to move on without me. This is a flaw that could be quite grating to a spouse. My dad is the same way, but my mom handles it fine. She doesn’t take things personally. So I knew I would need a man who could do the same for me.

I took a good look at myself to see what I had to offer. I have some good aspects, but I have lots and lots of flaws. Do I expect anything less than my standards, no, not at all. The thing is, yes, I’m flawed. Yes, I struggle. But I work on becoming better every day. I don’t just sit back and hope that it will go away, or that my perfect man will accept all of my issues without me trying to make them better. I don’t just want to find the best boyfriend to make the best husband; I want to be the best girlfriend I can be and become the best wife possible. It’s a two-way street.

Choose wisely, treat kindly.

Now, with all of these factors that went into my thoughts on dating, all I had to do was wait and enjoy life as a single, until the right man came my way.

And he did.

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