Thursday, May 27, 2010

Boyfriends and girlfriends

“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” –Gen. 2:18

Boyfriends and girlfriends. What a subject. Whole books…better yet, whole libraries have been dedicated to this topic from kids handing out notes in 4th grade to senior citizens dating at the nursing home. Having a “friend” that’s a boy or girl is huge.

My dating career officially began in 5th grade with a girl named Paula. She lived down the street and I thought she was cute. Being the youngest of 4 boys, I was clueless on any topic regarding girls. But I’d watched enough TV to be an expert, so I did what anyone wanting to entice a girl did in those days, I wrote her a note. You know me, Mr. organized, so I wrote her the classic, “If you want to go steady, check this box. If you want to be friends, check this box.” It was a beauty and pretty intense, but I wasn’t about to actually converse with her about anything. The note was given to her via courier (another girl) and handed back to me via courier (that same girl). And she checked “go steady.” I was nervous but excited. Then I went to Ridglea Drug Store and bought her the ultimate gift: an ID bracelet that had “Joey Staples” engraved on it. I gave it to her (in person). Three days later, she gave it back to me (via courier) and I don't remember ever speaking to Paula again. I wasn’t mad at her. Life just sort of moved on to other things. I still have that ID bracelet in a box at home. Maybe I’ll give it to Jeanie.

The point is, it’s okay for our teens to have interest in the opposite sex. It starts early and it’s important for us to educate and teach appropriate ways for our kids to interact and be friends with their peers. Locking them in their room won't teach them how to develop relationships with boys and girls. I’m not suggesting dating relationships in 5th grade, but I am suggesting that we begin to teach our kids how to appropriately pursue friendships with the opposite sex. As you know, Shelterwood is for both guys and girls. They obviously live in separate houses and are closely monitored, but we want them to learn how to correctly interact with each other.

Someone said the other day, “I’m really not interested in dating someone, I just want to meet my wife.” Wow. Scary. So much has been written on the validity of “dating” and “courting” and “pursuing”. eHarmony has highlighted the compatibility factors in relationships. In the end, we’re called to pursue friendships and that’s what we need to teach our teens. “But how will I know if I’m supposed to date and then marry that friend?” I challenge teens (and adults) not to worry about it. Pursue and strengthen friendships with your peers and the one’s that might go deeper and develop into “suitable” friendships for marriage, prayerfully consider taking them further. We need to teach our kids to be patient. We need to teach our kids that contrary to the trash they watch on TV, a relationship based on sex has no depth.

In the end, if we marry, we marry our best friends. Sure, they’re our helpers and our lovers and our soul mates. But they are “friends that stick closer than brothers.” The glamour, physical appeal, and passion come and go, but the depth of relationship always stands the test of time and trial. Any relationship with Christ in the middle is a healthy and valuable relationship.

Even more valuable than an ID bracelet!

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

1 comment:

Grace Girl said...

Once again, very timely input. I can't lock him in his room? I also got a 'check the box' note from my 1st boyfriend in 6th grade. I ended it by saying "I don't want to be tied down" per mom's advice. When he asked "what do you mean?" I said "I don't know." Glad those days are over and God gave me a best friend to marry.

Kim K