Never mind the fact that we are talking about our oldest daughter’s first crush, it’s our first crush as parent’s of a tween and almost teen girls.
What’s a parent to do? Lock them in a closet?
And as much as I’d like to be the “perfect” church parents whose twelve-year-old still thinks boys are full of cooties, the reality is that who our kids have feelings for and when they develop is out of our control. But, more importantly, we have been given a huge opportunity here as parents.
I remember being the strong-willed daughter who shared as little as possible with my own mother regarding boys. I do remember convincing her to let me date at fifteen and a half, but I did a lot of sneaking.
I still remember the days when I called time so that I could hear the call waiting beep and the phone wouldn’t ring. How many nights did I not sleep talking to boys and friends about boys on the phone?
I also may not have said much because of the strict nature of our home. I was in church every time the doors were open and listened as my mom and grandparents discussed other’s kids and who they were dating and what their thoughts on the subject were. I didn’t want to be the topic of everyone’s discussion at home or at church either.
So, I charted the world of dating pretty much without the input of my parents. What a miracle of God it was that I met and married my husband of now fifteen years. Looking back, there are so many regrets from those teen years and many of them have to do with boys. I don’t want that for my own girls, and I remember very vividly the feelings of wanting and wishing I could talk to my mom but letting the fear of being in trouble stop me.
Everything in me as a mother now cringes knowing my one-month-from-thirteen year old has a crush that is mutual. As a seventh grade teacher, I know crushes are normal. But as a parent, I am determined there will be nothing “normal” about this crush.(Click to Tweet)
So, when it became apparent that our oldest had a really good friend that was a boy, what did we decide to do?
Well, we have said many times that the minimum age for dating is 16. But in this instance, there is one particular reason we have chosen to acknowledge this crush rather than crush the life out of it.
1. This particular boy is a good representation of the kind of man we’d like to see her choose as a husband some day.
For that reason, we have embraced this time in her life and are praying, guiding, and supporting her through it. We have also made it clear that this is the reason why because we completely agree she’s too young for all of this.
There have been many discussions about the fact that if this were just any boy from school things might be much different. However, as parents, we want to communicate how pleased we are that this boy loves Jesus. Not only that, but he’s from a family that also puts Jesus first. This boy and his family are very actively involved in church and are continually involved in missions. So to communicate that we are extremely pleased with her choice in who to “like” we acknowledge her crush and talk openly about it on a regular basis.
The reality is she’s going to like who she’s going to like and we can either set our foot down and slam the door of communication shut, or we can accept the opportunity to walk our daughter through the beginning steps of eventually making the second most important decision of her life. The first obviously being choosing Jesus.
At times it would be easier to just say no, but I love my daughter too much to take the easy way out. (Click to Tweet)
And now that we are well solidified on this journey with her, there have been many more opportunities to communicate other important messages with her. Here they are in no particular order:
2. God loves you.
She knows this, but in the context of boys, she needs to hear daily that God is passionate about a relationship with her and that he will pursue her relentlessly because of His love for her.
3. We love you.
She can’t hear this enough, but she needs to see it. We’ve begun not only making extra efforts to “serve” her, but to discuss how it feels to be served and that is what love does, it serves. Jesus came to serve, not to be served.
4. There’s a difference between love and like.
One morning during our conversation after devotions, we were discussing how fortunate our kids are that their mom and dad are not only still together after 15 years, but that we still love each other. I went into detail about how we don’t always agree, but we always choose to love. Those warm fuzzies have faded, and we love each other today and each day by choice.
5. Until a man can replace dad as your prophet, priest, protector, and provider, he’s not ready to be your husband.
This has been a message from daddy since our girls were little, but now, as we talk about the purposes of dating and what that will look like in the future, it’s imperative that our girls not only know this, but that they are actively looking for it. This is dad’s territory, and he does a great job with it.
6. Focus on becoming the kind of person that the person you are looking for is looking for.
When we catch our oldest distracted by her smitteness, we gently remind her that her focus right now is to become the kind of person that the person she is looking for is looking for. Her primary focus is to grow in stature and wisdom and favor with both God and man. This means we must also model that growing closer to Jesus is a priority, no matter how old you are. Our morning devotions have been a great time for this.
7. Set and keep boundaries.
Honestly, watching a few television shows together and a few trips together to Magic Mountain have sparked lots of conversation about boundaries. Whether it’s talking about what she’s seeing on TV or the PDA at public amusement parks, simply asking her what she thinks about it all, really gets a good conversation going. She knows what we think; that has been made clear. But what matters is what she decides, so we question and probe to get her to think and make decisions about things before they happen.
8. Be honest.
Walking through this time together with her has been an unexpected blessing in so many ways, but mostly because of her honesty with us. Just this last week, on a car ride home in which we were alone, my oldest handed her phone to me and said, “Here, take it. I need you to take it. I texted (insert name) from my friend’s phone even though I knew I wasn’t supposed to. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I’m sorry.” What an amazing conversation and time together we had the rest of the night discovering together the ways God had been speaking to her. Not only that, but her honesty is what brings trust for the future. This message of being honest has been communicated from day one.
We pray for our girls; we pray with our girls; but we want our girls to pray on their own. There are times when it’s appropriate to say as a parent, “I think you should pray about that” instead of offering an immediate response. It’s more important that our children learn to talk to God and recognize His voice speaking into their lives than our own. (Click to Tweet)
Each of these represents many conversations over the years, yes years, since this boy has come into our lives. While it’s just recently been acknowledged, there’s been a strong friendship between the two for quite a while.
As parents, we pray for wisdom and discernment that we would engage in the necessary conversations, never missing an opportunity to speak truth in love BUT also never feeding into something we shouldn’t be.
We’ve also decided as parents that no matter who our daughter’s bring into our lives, we will pray for them and do all we can to love on them like we do our own. The best thing we can do is model the love of Christ to our kids and those they bring home.
“Our” first crush has brought a flood of emotions for us all. When it comes to boys and girls we don’t have the answers, but we do have a great opportunity. It’s an opportunity to be a part of our daughter’s life while she’s still mold-able and teachable.
The reality is our kids will have crushes and “boyfriends” even if we say no and anyone who thinks they can stop that is fooling themselves.
And to be honest, at first I was frustrated with God for putting us in this situation, but I’ve become more and more thankful with each passing day. It has been a blessing as a mom to hear my daughter’s heart, see her convicted by the spirit (and not me), and strive to serve Jesus through it all to the best of her almost teen ability.
I think the reason I fight so hard against things like this at times as a parent is because I sometimes I still believe I’m in control of my kids. Then, my Jesus reminds me that they aren’t mine, they are His, and He is the one in control. So, I find myself spending more time on my knees than ever before, and I’m certain that’s just the way my Jesus wants it.
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