“Mom, when we get a boyfriend will we meet him at the corner?”
It’s an innocent question that throws me off guard. When we dream of parenthood we often don’t think beyond the cradle and now that my work issues are closing in on my children’s seasons of life I’m starting to grow clammy. Parenthood does not allow you advanced warning for every question you will get. Only critical moments to seize.
My eight-year-old’s eyes set in on me, expectant. My heart hiccupped while my mind tried to settle that this conversation was happening now.
“No, honey. Because you value family so any guy that you will want to date will care about family too and want to come to the door.”
“Makes sense,” she replied, taking her eyes away from the situation outside the window and resuming Barbie play while I regained consistent breath.
Little minds are processing such life trajectory changing concepts.
I’m not surprised young ones are fobbling their way through relationships these days. Our culture is guilty of two major mixed messages that leave confused youth in a quandary.
First, we tell our children that we love them but the face-to-face time we make for them is waning, especially with the advent of hand held social media devices. We are distracted parents that use the nice words without the lived out powerful connect and children see right through that. The result is a missed window of opportunity. A breakdown in the child’s comfort level to ask the personal questions or share the tough stories leads them to ask others they think will care. I can’t tell you how many emails I read that start, “I can’t talk to my mom and dad” or how many times I’ve heard, “If my parents knew they’d kill me.” As a parent, I know this would crush any parent whose kid is saying it but we’ve dug our own hole. If we want to be their go-to person we’ve got to invest today. While they’re young.
And, girl power has challenged an interested gentleman’s ability to show his integrity. We tell our girls they can be and do anything. And they can. But, a strong woman is still to be a respected woman. Telling our girls that they were made so incredibly special that they should always be cherished, in fact, affirms her value and allows the boy to live out his.
Chivalry isn’t outdated. It is the lived out display of admiration and respect. For a young man to shake a girl’s father’s hand silently speaks understanding that she is treasured. For a girl to appear at the door step in trendy clothes that maintains pure focus affirms value greater than the sum of her parts. And to be walked to the car and have the door opened is just the beginning of honoring the servant heart that undergirds any long-lasting relationship.
This parenting thing is hard. The vigilance and transparency it requires to raise healthy children would seem impossible if we didn’t live within the present moment of each day. But, parents, I think we can bravely do this. If we all play our part and intentionally connect often - verbally sharing our values and teaching these concepts - maybe our sons and daughters will understand today relationship keys promoting a healthier tomorrow.
Lord, help us do this well….
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