Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"Going steady..."

I need some feedback on this subject... My husband and I were talking about having "boyfriends" and "girlfriends" in jr. high school. Now, Sei didn't have any girlfriends really- especially in jr. high. I, on the otherhand, had plenty. (Once I got past my ugly stage.) Now when I say I had boyfriends, this is what I mean. In elementary school it meant I liked a boy. He liked me. We never talked to each other or looked at each other, but we were boyfriend and girlfriend. In jr. high it meant he walked me to my classes. I scribbled "I love so & so" on my bookcovers and maybe he called me at home. That was 7th grade. Usually within a couple of weeks I was marking out his name and putting a different boy's name. I was a bit fickle. 8th and 9th I might see him at football games or a school dance. I didn't go to his house to hang out and I couldn't talk on the phone for hours on end. I wasn't allowed to date- as in go somewhere with a boy driving without any adults or other people- until I was 16. Now, with how I was my parents probably should have just locked me in a tower until I was 25 because I didn't make good choices. However, my sisters did fine so it was just me. And I realize that you can't parent all your kids the same because they aren't all the same. But that's a whole other post. Anyway- the discussion got a little heated with my hubby because he doesn't want the kids to have boy/girl friends until they are 16 and then he wants them to date different people. I agree with the dating part, but I KNOW there is no way we're going to forbid the kids from having jr. high relationships. If they have even an ounce of my personality in them, they will go behind our backs to do whatever we forbid them from doing. I, personally, don't think it's a huge deal. No, I'm not going to take Liv to her 8th grade boyfriend's home and I'm not going to let Tristan talk to a girl on the phone all hours of the nite. I'm not going to let Isabel go on long walks with her 9th grade boyfriend with his arm around her and his hand in her back pocket. Not gonna happen. But I don't want to tell my kids they may not have these "relationships" because that's when the sneaking around starts. And I'm not naive. I realize that things nowadays are a lot different than they were 15 years ago. I see little 12 year olds making out as they walk around the neighborhood. That stresses me out. But where are their parents? I can't follow my kids around 24-7, but once school is out I know where they are. I also try to teach them what's right and wrong so when I'm not there they can make good choices. Now, I'm not wanting my kids to have bf or gfs, because I don't want my sons to get hurt. Girls are freakin' fickle and MEAN. I warned my little brother over and over!! And boys are, well... horny. I just want to teach my kids the best I can. I want us to have a good enough relationship where they trust me to tell me they are liking a girl or boy. I don't want to find out they have a significant other because I read their diary. And I will read their diary. I already know I will. I just won't use the info. I read to bust them for something. I'll find another way. Hey- I'm just being honest. Anyway- what do y'all think? Any feedback would be great. And feel free to disagree with me. Sei does. :)

*** PLEASE READ MY COMMENT ON THIS. I don't want people to think I am WANTING my kids to have bf/gf. That is NOT the case!!


s--max said...

That's a tough one. I think about that too, & I'm not as close timewise as you are. On one hand, kids that age are not really ready for relationships. It's such an awkward time. They're trying to figure out who they are as a person, let alone throw somebody else into the mix. Girls fall hard & get their hearts broken easily. And boys unfortunately are only worried about one thing. On the other hand, you have school beating down so hard on the kids. They're in school all day long, then spend hours a night on homework. I'm afraid the kids will be burned out by the time they get in jr. high & will be looking for something more entertaining to do. I think the school systems need to ease up & let the kids focus on being kids for a little bit longer. Then, you throw in yet another hand...if you're too strict on kids, they sneak behind your back or just go crazy when they do leave the house. Of course, I have to play the "do as I say, not as I do" card here since Micah & I started dating in 9th grade. Things might not had turned out the same had we not. I guess the best we can do is instill the values & morals in our children, teach them right & wrong and pray that they take it with them when they go. Trust them to make the right choices & be there for them when they do make mistakes.
(sorry this ended up so long!)

Katie said...

I like Sei's view of things (or maybe how they should be), but I tend to think you're a bit more realistic, Tori. We are pleaseohpleaseohplease several years away from this, but Josh and I have already decided that we're going to do our damnedest to make our house the central hangout. If that requires building a game room and stocking a second fridge then so be it. I want to know who my kids are friends with and I want my kids to know that I care about them. We'll do our best to teach them our view of what's right and wrong, and then we're going to quietly watch as much as we can---which is why we want our kids and their friends to spend a lot of time at our house. Some of my best friends in high school were guys, and some of my first boyfriends were class A jerks. I never felt like I could talk to my mom because I knew all she'd say was "Don't even start with boys!" Parents rarely get to choose when their children start with anything, so I'd rather be privvy to what's going on in my kids' lives than thinking nothing was going on at all.

Amy said...

oh man oh man oh man... Any time I'm having one of those toddler-physical-wear-you-out days I think to myself.. at least it's not an older-kid emotionally-wear-you-out-day!!! I'm slightly scared of those days! ;)

I have to agree a little more with your husband on this one.

I had a friend who's older sister was really wild. Her parents were supposedly really strict with her. She ran away and had all these problems. They were much more relaxed with my friend because they didn't want to "push" her into being as rebellious as her sister. Well my friend is in a very similar-in some ways worse- situation than her sister was.

Some kids will sneak around your back no matter how strict or lax you are. I'd rather make clear rules that will keep my kids out of trouble and have them disobey-- than to not have a clear rule in the first place and have them do the same thing.

I think the whole sneaking behind your back business will have a lot more to do with your relationship with the kid. If the rules are set with enough love, the kids have more respect for them. For instance we had some pretty strict boy/girl rules in my house. But they weren't arbitrary and it made me have more respect for my parents and their rules (even when I thought they were lame). My dad would always tell me, "Make me the bad guy if you need to. Tell your friends, "Yah, my dad is total jerk- he won't let me have a boyfriend!" He would always tell me that he'd rather be "the jerky dad" who's daughter was safe than to have the "nice" dad who's daughter was gettin in to trouble. Of course he wasn't saying this in a "jerky" way. These conversations were the "ahead of time" ones that were fun and made me laugh. But it stuck in my head.

My dang parents would have actual heartfelt conversations with me about the rules if I broke one and it really sunk in. Even if I sat there in defiance. If I was in a similar situation again I'd have the guilt of knowing that they truly loved me and asked me not to do something sitting on my shoulder and it heavily influenced my decisions. I think it's hard for teenagers to connect that love to the rules on their own. But if the parent makes a point to connect it, it sticks a little better.

One last thought.It kind of doesn't make sense to say "We're not supposed to date 'til we're 16-- but we can have a boyfriend" The majority of the moral problems that our youth are running into these days are within boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Even if the relationship starts out innocent, you are just setting yourself up one step closer for a slip-up. I totally know what you are talking about with the "not-really-boyfriend" junior-high thing. But these days, the boyfriend/girlfriend thing is going a lot faster towards much more promiscuous practices than even 10 years ago.

I know that our Heavenly Father wants us to help our children me chaste and moral. He wants our children to be happy too. If we are trying to do what He asks us, he will not leave us hanging. I know the Lord will give me guidance in this area when I need it, if I remember to ask Him. I hope I remember to ask Him!!!

This was a fun one! I hope more people comment! It's cool to see everyone's opinion's on this hot topic!!

Tori :) said...

I think I agree a little with all of y'all.
Katie- I love the idea of being the cool place to hang out. Sei and I have that "plan" too because I want to know who my kids are hanging with.
Stacy- well, you were there with me in jr. high so you know why it's scary to think of our kids having bf/gf!! Aaggghhh!!!
Amy- I like how your dad approached that- him being the excuse for his kids is awesome! I'll have to use that one.
I'm afraid that this post may have made it sound like I'm rooting for my kids to have bf/gf. I really am not. I don't want it to happen. It scares me to death. But to me, the bf/gf thing in jr high is not dating. You don't see each other outside of school events, etc... But... I don't really like the idea either way. The whole conversation came up because my niece had a "boyfriend" who was walking her to class, etc... and she didn't tell her parents because she was afraid they'd over-react. Well- in my opinion they did over-react. They told her that now this boy thinks he owns her and expects her to be with him all the time, etc.. etc... My niece is a smart girl and all the things her parents told her I thought made them sound like they didn't trust their parenting. Like they weren't sure if they had taught her to choose the right. So, it kinda bugged.
I didn't mean to sound like the kind of mom that will push my daughters to have bf and have them over everynite and practically adopt them. I don't want that. It's not appropriate. I am just hoping that I DO have a good enough, open relationship so my kids WILL talk to me and let me into their lives.
Ok, now I'm stressed out.

Gina said...

Very thought provoking, Tori... I don't even know what to say... Can I put this subject matter off as long as possible? It scares me to death!

I am hoping things are easier because I will only have one boy... no girls to deal with.

AzĂșcar said...

This is such a hard one, and one that we haven't even explored at our house. From my personal view, I remember jr high relationships being much the same. You were "going out" even though there was no going out. "Relationships" consisted of dancing with that person at school dances, talking on the phone, or holding hands in the halls. However, my husband grew up in Florida where the rules were quite a bit different. He had to break up with his 9th grade gf because she had decided they needed to take the next step in their relationship: sleeping together. Riiiiight.

I don't know. That's the short answer.

I don't want to have my kids be socially awkward--wait, maybe that's not such a bad thing! Yeah! They can wait until college! I'm going to raise nerds!

Tori :) said...

My hubby grew up in Southern Cali, so that may be a big factor. And his parents were VERY strict. His sister got in trouble for going to a male friends home with another female friend. I think she was like 17.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your husband. He sounds very rational and extremely smart.

Tori :) said...

anonymous = my husband