Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Test Drive

This morning, as I dried and put away clean pots and pans, Keri Lynn and Kathleen both plopped themselves down at the bar and we all talked. Just us girls. Kristofer was upstairs. The little kids were busy playing. It was just us. These are precious times. Times when we share our hearts. And, of course, some of you know where I am going with this . . .

We talked about boys.

Hormones are raging here at the Johnson household with two teenagers and one girl at the cusp of teenhood. Even Keva has blossomed into womanhood in a varying degree. So each of these teaching times are priceless to me as a mother. Keri Lynn wonders if fellow high school students can actually see a difference in her, and she was told by a couple of boys last weekend that she is, indeed, very "mature." They were flabbergasted that she doesn't date and won't date until she's truly interested in someone as a marriage partner. She's also talked with her girlfriends on many occasions. Many cannot understand why she won't date.

We've been brainwashing, I mean, teaching our children about how they are to conduct themselves with the opposite sex for some time now. And we are as conservative as most families get that don't wear gingham dresses with head coverings or black suits.

I know that a lot of other Christians think we might be a bit extreme when it comes to our tactics, and that's fine. Parents are entitled to do what they deem fit for their children. But I would like to interject a warning to fellow parents as many enter into those amazing teen years with their children. Be careful what you allow your children to be exposed to. Protection is a GOOD thing. It's what we're supposed to be doing for our children.

My Mom got me a book for Kathleen for her birthday, Gentle Passages: Guiding Your Daughter into Womanhood by Robin Jones Gunn. It is a sweet book that urges young women to hold themselves as precious to God and to their future mate. Mom also sent a beautiful china plate to remind Kathleen that she is precious in God's eyes. She's not a throw-away paper plate, but a china plate to be used by God for His service.

Which brings me back to the "Girl Talk" we had this morning. One of the arguments that Keri Lynn gets when she talks to her friends about dating is "Well, how are you supposed to get to know the boy if you don't date? How do you know you're marrying the right guy? It's like test driving a car! You would never buy a car without taking it out for a spin!"

The test driving of a car is such a great analogy, but like most analogies, it is somewhat flawed. Of course, one should test drive a car before buying it. One should also do research, get counsel from friends and family, save up for it, have license/insurance/enough money to buy gas, buy it from a reputable dealer, etc. There are many things that one must do before one even gets to the test driving stage.

Then, I would add a little bit to the test drive itself to make it a more accurate analogy to marriage. And this is what I told the girls as we talked at the bar in our kitchen. When one gets INTO the car for that test drive, this is analogous to the many behaviors that occur during dating: hand holding, kissing, necking, and even sex. Whenever this "test driving" is going on, each time there is a "test drive", the driver (and I'm using a girl as an example here) is leaving something of herself IN the car. Think of it as graphically as if, when she got out of the car, some skin peeled off on the seat, and some seat material has peeled off onto her. Now she has left a little of herself with the car, and the car has lost a little of itself to the driver. BOTH have lost something during the "test drive."

If you think this might be a little hard core in thought -- "Come on, Jackie! Please! It's not a big deal to go out on a date with a guy" -- then tell me about that first guy you had feelings for, the first guy you might have given yourself to in some physical or emotional way -- You can never get that back again. Some innocence is lost. Innocence that should be given as a gift to the marriage partner.

It is my fervent prayer that each of the kids will one day be able to present themselves to their spouse as a wonderful present to open. A present that has never been opened before. Because the opening of such a present is only the beginning. So much focus is put on finding that perfect mate, in getting to know him/her, in planning the perfect wedding and honeymoon, that we kind of forget, "Oh, yeah, and then there's the marriage part!"


Which leads me to my last point in my little dissertation of why I think single people should avoid dating. The emphasis should be on the eventual goal -- marriage. Not fun, not experimentation, not disobedience to God. Marriage. If we are truly serious about marriage, then we ought to, as a Christian community, be serious about the way our young people are conducting themselves as they prepare for marriage.

Coming off my soapbox now. : )


Oz said...

My brother has used a similar approach and it worked fine for his oldest, but caused some issues with his other kids who have a different personality.

I think you guys are too conservative in that area, but hey, they're your kids and not my kids.

The one risk of your approach is if you get a kid who decides to rebel and date, but won't tell you about it ... now they're test driving with no input from Mom and Dad.

We're very actively dialoguing with Jordan as we approach these stages and we have told her that we'll decide when she can do any type of "one on one dating" that doesn't involve just showing up after school at the gym.

Jackie said...

I appreciate the input.

Active dialog is crucial!

Kathlee defintely has interest in boys now. One of her friends already has a boyfriend, another said that her parents will allow her to date in middle school. Come on! That's ridiculous! I asked that girl, "What in the world are you going to do on a date?"

She looked at me blankly, "Well, I don't know!"

Maria said...

Thank you, Jackie,for your summation of a very important topic. I believe your children will follow your advice because they have VERY GOOD relationships with their Saviour and with their parents. How else can we expect to transfer our beliefs?

I absolutely agree with your advice on dating. We are responsible as parents to input responsible teachings into our children. We never just leave our children alone after we give them input but continually assess their attitudes, heart and conscience. We continually share the word of God with them and when all is said and done we hope in the LORD, prayer and fasting while on our knees, knowing that our children are made of flesh and are vulnerable to it. I am continually amazed that I still believe in high standards even though my 23 and 24 yo's have not done what we have taught them. What I am learning is that as I draw near to God it is more about His grace and mercy that covers over a multitude of sins. And I depend on His grace for all things.