Teen Dating- An Era of Error
When I was growing up, which wasn't long ago, I wasn't allowed to date girls as a young teen. There really wasn't a lot of discussion about the issue because it was a rule that was non-negotiable. I think that because my parents raised me up by explaining the reasons why we do and do not do certain things, I was better able to understand the world around me than kids who had parents that gave simple "yes" and "no" answers. It was always ok for a group of friends to hang out together, but the dating scene was off limits until at least 16 years of age. Looking back on the decisions that my parents made me feel a part of, I feel as though it saved me in a sense.
I was always wild at heart. My mother saw that in me; I was just like her. I wanted to jump from the highest point on the bridge into the water or be the first to try the bike ramp and always started my best stories with "watch this!!" My mother was able to use this wild side in me and turn it towards healthy aspirations such as sports and schooling. I made captain of the wrestling team my second year on it, won numerous leadership awards from elementary school throughout high school and always found challenges in everyday classroom work that kept that healthy fire inside of me kindled. I was too interested in excelling and being the best person that I could be to be worried about if girls found interest in me (which I later found out that they had) or who was sleeping with who in high school. I was never hung over coming to class because after practice I was in my house setting the table for dinner and doing my homework before bed.
What is it that has these children so confused these days? What is it that is missing? Is it gone forever? The main difference that I see in how I was raised versus those around me is the consistent discipline. Parents asking their children what they would like to eat for dinner, eating meals in separate rooms and disciplining their children for something one day then ignoring it out of convenience the next. Children thrive on consistency. It gives them a foundation to stand on, something which does not shake or falter when the world around them changes.
When we've become so distant from our children's lives that they seek appproval and love from other sources then it's time we reconcile the time lost. Hug your kids; tell them how proud of them you are for the smallest things. When we praise our children for the good, it gives them something to strive for in the future. Children that feel loved and appreciated do not look to outside entities for affection. Support your children's aspirations. If your son loves soccer, bring him to a professional game and get him signed up in a league. Show your support through the actions of your everyday life.
I can remember my first heartbreak. I was 17 years young and had my first real crush. When I found out my crush was dating one of my really good friends I felt betrayed. I hadn't even told her I was interested in her and I felt my world closing in around me. They say that children's minds are extremely impressionable which would help to make sense of the horrible things that we see them do in the news over these childhood relationships. Children being shot and stabbed for "cheating" on their boyfriend/girlfriend. It was no wonder that my mother wanted to shield my feeble heart from these feelings at such a young age. I already know that i wouldn't have handled that type of rejection at that age very well.
My parents aren't perfect. Like the rest of us they made mistakes every single day. I can say that although I'm doing a few things differently, I'm trying to raise my son with the same love that they showed me. They taught me self-worth with endless "I love you" callouts, hugs, kisses and support in several different aspects in life. Let your children be young. There is plenty of time for grown-up business when they become adults.