There was alot of excitement here over the Christmas break not the least of which was my son deciding to break up with his girlfriend of almost 2 years. While I did like his girlfriend I feel a little relieved to see him end such a long term serious relationship at such a young age. They both have so much of life and themselves left to discover in the coming years. I firmly believe teenage dating is about learning to interact with a woman and develop relationship skills not for finding a spouse. There is plenty of time for that. And yes I know I am married to my high school sweetheart but we started dating at 18 not 13, there is a whole lot of growing up between there.
Now that Jake is on the market we have been busy discussing what qualifies as girlfriend material and what doesn't. He has many friends who are girls and I like them all. However, I would not consider the majority of them to be girlfriend material. While there are many jokes and a tv show about the rules for dating your daughter I am realizing that somehow, culturally, we seem to think the guys are just free to run around with no rules at all. Well, while all the fathers of daughters are out worrying about what kind of boy might come knocking on their door they forgot to teach their daughters how to behave appropriately with a boy. I am here to tell you that girls are not too innocent in this whole boy/girl dating experience these days and when it comes to dating my son I have a few rules of my own:
#1--Most importantly this girl must be a Christian. She must share our faith/Jake's faith. She must be committed to a growing realtionship with Christ and encouraging my son to continue growing in his realtionship with Christ.(and, well, you know, if she was Anglican that would be a bonus.)
#2--She must be commited to remaining sexually pure until marriage. Right or wrong I believe the girl sets the tone here. I know Jake desires to wait for marriage but I also understand that men tend to start thinking with other parts of their bodies when put in compromising positions and if given the green light will not always make the right decision. I realize he is my son and maybe I shouldn't be saying these things about him but lets be real here. If I bury my head in the sand on this issue I miss so many opportunities to encourage him to make good choices.
#3--She must be interested in knowing him, what he loves, what his dreams are, what his fears are. She must be able to encourage him to try new things, see himself in the best light and believe in himself.
#4--She must make him happy. He should feel light and relaxed with her, able to be himself completely. Laugh together at life, the world, themselves, each other.
#5--She should have goals and dreams of her own. At this age it isn't about sharing dreams but about discovering who you are and what you want for yourself. Until you can stand on your own you will never be able to stand with someone else.
#6--She should demand respect from my son. I am raising my son to show respect to a woman and want him to date a girl who expects and accepts nothing less. Not a girl who defensively insists she knows how to open doors herself but a girl who can graciously accept my sons offer of assistance.
#7--And, of course, she should like Jake's parents. :) Treat them well, respect them, laught at their jokes, pretend to think they are cool. You know, the usual.
For right now Jake is enjoying being a bachelor hanging with his buddies, staying up late playing plenty of x-box live. A friend did ask him to go to the up coming school dance and I am excited to see him go. And while she is one of a small number of his friends I would approve of him dating I hope they remain simply friends. This is a great time in his life to just enjoy his friends without any pressure to turn it into something more. There is so much time in life to be a grown up and take on the responsibilities that go with that. Now is his time to just relax and have fun.