Which means only one thing to overprotective fathers everywhere....Boys.
And the boys have arrived at my house. Something I personally love, having no sons of my own. But with the arrival of boys, and driving, and high school, has also come the arrival of dating...
I know, right? Are all you parents shuddering and all you teenagers grinning?
I fall into the "grinning" camp because I have always been a big fan of kissing boys. Plus, I am not so sure that I ever quit being a teenager in many ways. Oh well.
So the boys come and go and there are some dates here and there for the girls that happen to be 16, and a lot of wishful sighing on the part of the girls who are not 16 yet (My girls don't date one on one until they are 16...I'll tell you about that in another post). There have been plenty of fun moments and plenty of not fun, which is the way of young relationships.
One day the two teenagers walked up and asked me, "Mom, how do you know when it is OK to kiss a boy, and when it is time to stop?"
Now I am a very open person when it comes to talking about sex or relationships, and I believe in telling the truth about these things as far as answering the specific question asked goes. But as I dug into my "Experience with this" file, I came up with a blank. This was a spot I never did "right". I took kissing too far...Every. Single. Time.
Now before all of you get excited, or start calling my ecclesiastical leaders, we really are talking about just kissing here. This is totally a family show.
But it definitely required me thinking up a better answer than "uuhhhhh..."
So I thought about it for the whole day. And after thinking about things for hours, I had an epiphany.
I realized that this conversation about kissing "right" should actually start with a conversation about dating "right." Or rather, dating for the right reasons.
For me, dating was a collection of kisses from cute boys to make me feel better about myself. This was the opposite of the so-called "right" reasons.
I have always told my kids that the purpose of dating is to get to know someone better than you can just hanging out with them at school or at church. The emphasis here is on becoming better friends through having fun little adventures together and talking about different things than you would in a group or at school. It is an exercise in learning how to gradually reveal yourself to someone and build deeper trust a little at a time. And then to see, over time, if you have enough in common to build on. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't, but both parties grow through the process.
These kinds of dates always start from a feeling of "Wow! I think this person is great! I want to know more..."
The approach I favored, and one popular with most teens today is to look at a person and think, "Dang! That guy/girl is hot. I should totally ask them out." Now, while popular, this approach to dating will not help you get to know someone better. That's not the question you are asking them. The question you are asking with this approach is, "Can I have access to you physically?"
Shocking, right? But if you think about it, that is the truth. If you are focusing on what someone looks like and that's your motive to be with them, you have set yourself up to ignore the rest of them. You are only left with the physical, which, if we are being honest here, is really the sexual.
If you are dating someone to get to know them better, you will be friends first. You will build on that friendship gradually through shared experience and conversation over time. Eventually, it will feel right to try kissing them. If you are doing it right, these kisses should be sparing and meaningful. They should be light, funny, loving, and fun. They should flow from the trust and affection you have built between each other. The should fill you with a bubbly joy and make you both want to be better people for each other.
If they turn into something greedy, something dominant, something you can't get enough of, you have crossed over into sexuality.There is a reason it is known as "the Sex Drive." If the reason you want to go out with someone is so you can make out with them, all you are doing is indulging your sex drive. There is no relationship growth possible from this place. It is purely self-serving.
So this is the answer I will give my girls.
Ladies, date boys who intrigue you, who seem fun and funny and interested in who you are. Go and have funny little adventures here and there and talk and tease each other and tell jokes and stories.
And if the dates keep being fun, and if you find you keep having things to talk about and things to learn and teach each other, eventually a day will come that it just seems like a good idea to kiss. So do it, with the feeling and the intention of getting to know each other.
If you find yourself kissing for a long time or only wanting to kiss or thinking of doing more than kissing, you are no longer building your relationship. You are indulging your sex drive. So stop for a while, maybe for a week or a month or however it takes to refocus on being sweet friends again.
And if you can't refocus, the break will give you a chance to calm down and decide whether this is the relationship you really want...or not.
I hope they listen. They could be so much happier than I was. And isn't that what every parent wants for their child? A happier life than they had?
Well that's all I've got for today.
Talk to you soon,