Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crossing State Lines

My daughter Kirsten is sixteen and a junior in high school. She has two years left before she will be headed off to college and I will have this house all to myself. However, today marked one of those milestones that made her want to go right now. Her boyfriend Charles left for college this morning.

His school is about a six hour drive from here in another state, so they will not be seeing each other regularly on weekends. He might make it back home once or twice in a semester. I have split feelings about this.

I have had a couple of years to get used to the idea of my daughter having a boyfriend. I can even witness him kiss her with only a minimal spike in my blood pressure. I have tried to teach my daughter to be strong and independent. I raised her to know who she is and not to ever be defined by her relationship with another person or to allow her tastes, opinions, feelings or desires to be decided by someone else, whether that be a person or societal expectations. She is growing to be that woman and I couldn't be more proud of her.

The topic of Charles leaving for college came up last week over dinner and another adult advised Kirsten to move on and live her life. Do not put her life on hold and wait for him. This advice goes right along with the spirit of the lessons I have taught my daughter over the years and I couldn't agree more....sort of.

While the adult side of me sees the rationale in the advice and I would probably give the same advice to any random teenager, I have a selfish father side as well that wants to protect my daughter. While he is away at college and she decides that he is the man for her, that means she is not dating anyone else. I have absolutely no problem with that. She is basically not dating as long as he is her boyfriend and school is in session. No father would complain with those circumstances.

On the other hand, should a sixteen year old be making this type of commitment? You only get to be young once. Would this be considered putting her life on hold for a boy?

I have decided I have no problem with this and there is one main reason for it. I like this kid. Kirsten has not had a lot of boyfriends, but of the ones she has dated, only two have been quality guys. The last one moved to Georgia. There were a few that were okay. They weren't bad kids, they just took up space. There have been a couple I really did not like. One of them was so bad, I forbid her from ever seeing him again. Yes, I am that type of father. It was for her protection. That kid was trouble.

I wish our culture recognized the wisdom of arranged marriages. Then, I could just forbid her from dating until I found the perfect man for her. I would do a bang-up job, but very very few would make the cut.

The guy she is dating now is great and is the reason I have no problem with this. As long as she considers herself his girlfriend, she is not bringing home some other idiot. Plus, he really is a great kid. His parents were my youth ministers when I was in high school and his father baptized me. I am well aware of the stereotype about preacher's kids, but it is just a general rule of thumb and does not always apply. Charles is attending a Christian college to prepare to be a missionary. He is well mannered, respectful, courteous, never rude and very funny. Most importantly, he treats my daughter very well.

It is these and other qualities that make me happy to see that she is holding on to him. Kirsten is only sixteen and I am not trying to get her married off. It's too soon to think about such things, but one day she will end up with someone. With each guy she has brought home, I couldn't help but imagine what her being married to him would be like. Most of the time, I haven't liked the future I saw for her. Wanting the best for my daughter, I am happy to see that she has found a quality man. As long as she is with him, she is not with some other random douchebag.

I am not suggesting that she needs to marry Charles. Once again, it is too early for that kind of talk, but it is comforting to see that she recognizes what a good guy he is. I am totally supportive of this relationship, but don't tell him.

33 comments:

  1. I believe you can reconcile the ideal with the reality of her being an independant, free-thinking and self-reliant individual with her actions of waiting for him by seeing that she isn't changing herself to suit him or even moving to his town to be with him. She is just continuing their relationship, albeit now long distance. Whether that will last or not will be seen, as long distance is difficult, especially at that young and changing age, but I don't think she is altering herself for him or in any way not adhering to her own self. It follows that she is still that girl you raised and is continuing in that vein. No worries, pappa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh man, I just read that back. Could that be any more convoluted or jumbled? Jeesh! Sorry about that. Hopefully the sentiment comes, through.

      Delete
    2. It made sense to me. Thank you.

      Delete
  2. when I was older I chose a man over my life ... and regretted it... she needs to do what's best for her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She's not choosing to change her life in any way. She is just maintaining the relationship. It is her choice. I haven't given any input on this. These are just my observations.

      You're right. She needs to do what is best for her. I believe she is doing that.

      Delete
  3. I met my wife-to-be when we were both sixteen. We've been married now for 38 years. Our son is 32and can't seem to meet the right person. Life is strange.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! 38 years. That is almost my entire life. Congratulations. My marriage only lasted 12.

      Delete
  4. It doesn't really matter how far away somebody is. If you date them and it doesn't work out, anyone can make the argument that you put your life on hold and wasted time. But how will you know if you have a chance without risking it?

    All she needs to do, is what is best for her. When it comes to boys (granted, sometimes everyone needs a little help recognizing it when somebody won't treat you right), she'll know what's right for her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There will always be naysayers out there to say, "I told you so." In the end, everyone has to make their own decisions.

      Delete
  5. I met your father during my Junior year in high school. Then he sailed off to serve his country and I never dated again. I went out with girlfriends. I made the best grades of my high school career those 2 years. I also missed my Senior prom and 2 Sweetheart dances, but it was never a problem for me. If it's meant to be it will happen, if not stick to your guns and monitor the traffic. Where is Charles going to school?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I didn't know you guys met that young. Charles is going to Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO.

      Delete
  6. I love this post. I have known you all for a long time. And although I haven't seen you and Kirsten much over the years since we stopped going to church together, she seems like a smart, responsible girl. I also know Charles is the same kind of kid. It's totally possible that they could end up together. Of course, the opposite is also possible. And you probably know how Alex and I began dating when he was 15 and I was 18. YES, we got a lot of snickers and doubts from people as to whether or not I would stick around for someone younger. But I knew from fairly early in our relationship that we would end up getting married. We have been together for almost 10 years now. Married for 5.
    I wish them both the best of luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I am not really looking that far into the future, but love that she has a good man who treats her well.

      Delete
  7. Brett, I am right there with you with my daughter. She had never really dated, period. She'd have crushes or some fella would like her and it would just NEVER work out. After much prayer and wrestling, she decided she would give up the idea of dating and 'fast' any kind of pursuit of a relationship (by this point all her friends had boyfriends/love interests and it was tough).

    And then came her now boyfriend...
    and I like him.
    A lot.
    He is a genuine article. Big-hearted. A deep well. Most importantly, he treats my daughter like the amazing person she is, and completely respects her. Doesn't hurt that they mutually agreed not to kiss right now - strange in this day and time, I know, but he is putting action to his words.
    They are heading into their senior year. I find myself hoping that maybe they've found their 'one' and my romantic self fully believes in the notion of young love being true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders and you did well with her.

      Teens often don't realize how much we are watching. Seeing them with an idiot is almost too much to take, but when they are treated well and taken care of, it counts big in the parents' book.

      Delete
  8. ...and nerdy. Just a bit. He gets my nerdy jokes, which is nice.

    Don't knock PKs. I'm one too! And I have a cousin in Joplin. If ya'll want to make a road-trip, we'd have a place to crash!

    (and if arranged marriages were a reality in this country, you and I wouldn't be together. Unless you want to convert.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not knocking PK's. I mentioned the stereotype that exists and defended against it. So, I did quite the opposite.

      I am sure Kirsten would love to take a road trip some time this year.

      The arranged marriage situation I had in mind would involve me being completely in charge of arranged marriages. Since I would have control, it would not be an issue.

      Delete
  9. I personally think she can't do better then that nice young man who moved to GA. However, I may be biased seeing as I'm his aunt:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are definitely biased, but not blind. When I said only two boys of quality, your nephew was the other one.

      Delete
  10. I am reading the comment from Anonymous, and I can't stop laughing.

    I think it's great that she found such a wonderful, I am going to say 'boy' because anyone even five minutes younger than me is a child in my eyes. It's hard to me a decent young man when the hormones are trying to take over the brain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are a lot of decent people (boys, girls, men, women) out there, but they are not the majority. People need to set their standards fairly high and not compromise them. They need to find that quality person, not settle for less and be a quality catch as well.

      Teenagers probably have it the worst. They're battling with all those hormones and still struggling to find who they are.

      Delete
  11. Interesting strategy. Makes perfect sense.

    Every Dad should support long distance relationships. Its hard to get pregnant over Skype.

    The only thing better than getting approval from a partners parents is hearing them in the background say "Why did you break up with him? Are you stupid?" when she is dumping you over the phone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dated a girl once whose mother absolutely loved the boy her daughter had dated right before me. There was no pleasing her. She liked the other kid. I never did win her over.

      I think it makes sense too. More dads should be encouraging it. It removes a lot of worry.

      Delete
  12. If she's really happy with who she's dating, I don't think she's missing out. Who has a great dating life when they're 16 and single, anyway? I sure didn't.

    The dating doesn't matter. It's like you said in the comment above. So long as she doesn't change her ACTUAL life, then she's really not putting her life on hold. Now, if she wanted to be a doctor but instead dropped out of school to follow this guy around in his garage band, well, you'd be hearing a different tale from me...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. I have seen too many girls quit school to follow a guy. They have no idea the repercussions that will have on their life.

      She is doing great and pursuing her current interests. We'll see what happens when she is ready to graduate.

      Delete
  13. Good for them. That is definitely a trying time for a young couple... when one goes off to college etc.

    Good to see that they both seem to have good heads on their shoulders. And good to see you handling it all very well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know what the future holds, but I expect them both to be just fine.

      Delete
  14. Hey, if you like him, that says a lot. When I was 16 I had rocks in my head. My dad actually told one of my boyfriends (who was a smartass) - "Boy, I've got a shotgun and a shovel in my front closet, and ain't no one gonna miss you."

    That guy was on his best behavior from there on out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went to pick up a girl for our first date and her father had all his guns out and was cleaning them as he gave me the stink eye. I figured it was an implied threat, so I acted excited about the Glock on the table, sat down and started cleaning them with him. We got along fine after that.

      Delete
  15. I guess I'm kind of in a weird relationship because my girlfriend's Dad doesn't mine me yet her Mom really dislikes me for some reason.

    I think it's because I'm just a lowly student and not some fancy doctor or lawyer. Sigh...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dated a girl once whose mother really didn't like me. I never could win her over. I later found out it was because she liked the last boyfriend her daughter had. It really wasn't me. I just wasn't him.

      Delete
  16. I think the best thing for a young relationship is long distance (or time apart) they need to see how the world tests them and what their reaction is. She definitely sounds smart enough that she will notice if anything major has happened that he is trying to hide from her (some college kids like having a back-up waiting at home for after their screw-ups).

    My 16 year old has not had the fortune of finding someone with a similar maturity level. A couple were forgettable, one seemed to get a kick out of speaking without a filter and the one we liked, was respectful and fun and appeared to be maturing at the same rate, listened to gossip started by a bitter ex-friend and broke her heart and friendship.

    I have heard that the brain isn't done developing until around 22 (especially in males) and firmly believe that no one should marry (or exclusive living arrangement) before that age.

    Hestia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's difficult to watch this play out and decide when you should step in and when should you sit back and let mistakes happen. I hate it.

      Teenagers can be vicious (I guess adults can too), and I am sorry she had to go through that. I totally agree that the major choices need to wait until adulthood. There are so many personal changes taking place in the teenage years, it is nearly impossible to even know who you are.

      Delete

Getting comments on my blog is like finding a McNugget in my fries. It just doesn't get any better. Leave a comment while you're here.