Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Courtship - Part 2

My son does not like for me to say to people who do not know us "we believe in courtship or that we practice courtship" because so many people interpret the word Courtship  in so many different ways. So maybe I will call it Purposeful Acquaintance? I don't like Dating with a Purpose. One because it sounds so cliche and also because I don't like what dating means. Dating is temporary. What I believe in is lasting. By the time the couple is going out together alone, they are engaged. And when I say alone, that is relative because they are never alone, they are always in public. 
So, I don't know what I will call this, but for now I will just continue.

As I read my last post I realize that this may take a while. But is it important. Probably one of the most important things that you can do for your children besides teaching them in the instruction and admonition of the Lord. 
Ephesians 6:4 tells us 
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

I want to point out the "provoke your children to anger" part of that verse. To teach your child something that requires self discipline, control and patience, you have to have their heart. If you are demanding and controlling in this matter, you will lose their heart and provoke their rebellion or anger. You can say all day long that is not the way your child should react but you must remember a few things. No one likes to be told what to do, how to do something and especially how to do something that affects their life in such a personal way as finding a spouse. 

And secondly, you must remember that we are natural rebels. We rebelled against a perfect parent, one who treats us with nothing but patience and everlasting love. Yet we sin and are hard headed in His instruction.  But not only for Christians but for the unbeliever or the agnostic, your children will not receive your interference lightly in this matter either. Unless you have their heart. And I realize that people other than Christians, want what is best for their child and may be exploring what courtship or abstinence means in a relationship, so I will try to make this non believer friendly too without, hopefully sounding like a Preacher!

One of the best things we can teach our children is self control and self discipline. It is not always easy especially if you have not been taught this yourself. I was not taught self discipline. I had to learn it in my 30's and now in my 40's I am starting to learn it some more! Control over yourself is invaluable as it protects you. That is the main point that I started out with for my children. "This is for your good.  It will help you, it will protect you, not only your body but your mind, your heart and your time."

I started off  in this manner because my purpose was to protect my children from mistakes, from heartache, from impurity of mind and soul and to protect their body which is too young for sex, much less the things that come with promiscuity. Disease, denigrating of self worth, a bad reputation, usually alcohol and drugs become a part of that lifestyle. There really isn't anything in that lifestyle that is worth letting my child start off their life, their young life being  caught up in the "boy friend - girl friend " drama. It never ended well for me and I have yet to see it end well for in the majority of the teen boy friend/girlfriend relationships. I have yet to meet anyone who said "wow I am glad I dated him/her. It will give me such insight into my marriage one day". Nope, I must say I have yet to hear that one.

 So as we teach self control and discipline we can naturally start our introduction into the belief of courtship. I have decided that for my own purposes I will tell you what I believe in and have labeled Courtship.

 We purpose to wait until we are of marriageable age before allowing ourselves to consider someone for a relationship that is at all times headed towards marriage.

Yes, towards marriage. We are not going to have a few boyfriends or girlfriends to see what it is like in a relationship. God made one woman for one man. He didn't make Eve, Shirley and Gabrielle for Adam to date and then pick the one that Adam liked best or had the best time with.  He made Eve, for Adam and I believe that God has one person for each of us if it is His will that we marry. And sometimes it is not. But assuming that He has someone for my child, I will guide my child and help them take the right steps towards the right decision.
It is without question, because I have been saying it since he was 12 and my other 2 were born,  you are going to search for a spouse not a girlfriend, or boyfriend. My kids will have already have had plenty of girl friends and boy friends. I hope you see the difference in spelling that I used. They are friends that are girls and friends that are boys.

That brings me to what happens when your child starts to like someone a little more than others. I will discuss that in my next post.

So to recap so far, the first thing you have to do is purpose in your heart to teach this in a loving manner that is not dictatorial. It has to be your child's belief ultimately, so you have to decide how you will approach it. Start with alot of smiling and loving attitudes toward your child. Your child has to know that you love them and want what is best. If this takes you a while it will be worth it because you have to change your own heart before you can affect someone else's.

You also have to make sure that you have taught self discipline and self control in other areas of their lives, not just this. If you have the attitude of  "my child can make his own choices in everything" from clothing, what they eat and what time they go to bed, then you must understand this may come as a shock to your child. I am not saying it cannot be done, but I want to hear how you did it!

Next, be purposeful, tell your child that you believe that it is best for your child to avoid the boyfriend/girlfriend lifestyle and then tell them why.  Some of my reasons are that your heart belongs to your future wife/husband, you are too young for that kind of pressure and I also pose the question what does it accomplish? A relationship at this point in their lives would hinder their freedom to pursue their own interests because they would always have to answer to someone else.

  Know that as they get older they are going to have crushes. It is up to you to help them through this. I will tell you how I handled it with my son and intend to handle it with my daughters. And believe me, I know they are completely different situations. But it doesn't have to be difficult. Not if you have their heart.

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