3 weeks ago
Monday, June 9, 2014
1. When we met James we explained our expectations of courtship. We did not insist on chaperones at all times, though they were strongly encouraged (and are often included).
2. We are not in favor of, what would be termed, "normal dating". We especially feel that being alone in isolated settings (especially at night) is a very poor idea.
3. Hannah and James determined that holding hands, hugs, and some kisses were acceptable for them. We strongly advise holding to that commitment and have addressed issues of accountability in order to go no further in physical expressions of intimacy. (I would have preferred that there be less physical interactions than even this, but it is best the couple decide their own parameters and then we just partner with them to hold them accountable to their own decision.) This is where it is critical to have a strong relationship with your child - we talk about everything!
4. We are very much in favor of including family and friends in any and all social settings. It is important to see each other in their interactions with their family - especially when their guard is down. You want to know who the person you may someday marry really is, not just when they are trying to impress you.
5. Courtship should only begin when there is a reasonable expectation that it will lead to marriage - though this is not the sure and final outcome. "Dating around" only insures you know how to leave a relationship, not how to build one. It defrauds the other person with false expectations and leaves pieces of your heart with someone other than you future spouse. (Wouldn't you want to marry someone that saved all of their heart for you?)
6. By requiring that no "couple" relationship begin without talking to the dad, then meeting with the young man to interview him and determine the seriousness of his attitude and his character, you can pretty much weed out anyone just wanting a selfish, casual relationship. (i.e. Do you intend this relationship to culminate in marriage? - this question is asked at the first meeting)
7. In helping the couple to build a relationship that gives testimony of Jesus as lord of their life, we offered a few suggestions and stipulations.
a. We gifted them both with stationary to write to each other (remember James was leaving for a year in Quebec with few visits back.) While they do make free use of Skype and on-line chatting, we felt it was still vitally important to write to each other. We suggested once a week sending at least a short note to each other.
b. We also gifted them each with a copy of the book, The Adventist Home. They are expected to read it as soon as possible - and especially discuss with each other the ideas they read in it.
c. We provided the DVD Courtship series from SM Davis that was previously mentioned and require that they both watch it.
d. We gave them a multi page list of questions to discuss together. It was just a list we found on-line somewhere. (I forgot to note where I got it and can't find it now!) It helps them to discuss important issues they might not think to discuss at the start of a relationship. There are no right or wrong answers. It is just to explore each other's thinking about important topics in a relationship and learn about each other's values and character, and to see if there are any big challenges in expectations.
I may do one more wrap up post on the topic. Or maybe not. We shall see.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Shortly before break James asked Hannah if she would be is girlfriend. Hannah liked James a lot and was all in favor of a relationship - but she did hold fast to her (tenuous) commitment to courtship and told James he had to first call her dad. James' mom, Melissa, tells about this on her blog here: A Virtuous Woman (You have to scroll down about half way to get to the part about James and Hannah.)
As Melissa mentions within a week or two we drove up to Chattanooga to meet James. We felt that if we gave the parameters to Hannah that we needed to meet anyone interested in courting her, then we had to make it possible for us to meet that person. While this isn't the way we envisioned it taking place, we were committed to doing our part. So off to TN we went. James was a delight to meet. He is quite focused on his future and loves the Lord. While courtship was new to him (and I am sure a bit odd) he was respectfully willing to follow our guidance. Hannah also told us that if we felt he was not a good choice for her, she would be willing to call a halt to any relationship. We could ask for nothing more from either of them.
Permission was given to begin a courtship.
A few more details next time....
Thursday, June 5, 2014
The real life version was different. Be prepared for God to change things up.
The Princess and James had a college class together. James is a wonderful Christian young man, but he is clueless about courtship. Hannah has always promised she would accept no date with any young man unless they first talked to her dad. She was semi-clueless about courtship in spite of all our instruction. She knew step 1 (talk to my dad) and that is about it - but it was enough, thankfully, to get us headed in the right direction.
[In her defense, she later claimed that even though this was often a topic of conversation between us, and in other settings - it never directly related to her, so she barely paid it any heed. She is like that...]
So James began working on developing a friendship with Hannah. For several weeks Hannah was pretty oblivious and just thought he was a nice guy. Then there was the week he just showed up at her church service where she played in the orchestra. That was clue number 1 that something was different. What I liked was that because Hannah and I have a very good relationship she was calling me almost daily asking input on what she saw and how she should respond. I tend to not just tell her what she should do, but I hope I effectively guided her by helping to clear some of the fog. For instance when she mentioned he had just shown up at her church - what did that mean? I assured her that the only reason he would do so was because he was definitely interested in pursuing a relationship with her. Never having had a romantic relationship she was unsure of the signals.
At this point I felt that things were working a bit backwards from our expectations - and I encouraged Hannah to please explain courtship, and that James needed to be relating to us (the parents) at this time so we could get to know him as well - but alas, this was too much for Hannah to take on. She was too unsure of James intentions to mention her family's odd expectations. And then there is the fact that Hannah was 21 at this time, had lived in Italy for her college junior year, and was now a senior in college in TN. It is a bit of a tightrope to walk as a parent. We wanted to keep her close, not push her away.
To be Continued....
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Here is what we did:
1. You have to start early. This is not something you can impose on your children from the top down. They have to be on board or you only drive them away from you.
2. As a family we watched and discussed the courtship series by SM Davis. We thought these to be the most balanced. Available Here and one chapter of the series is on You Tube as well. Courtship Video
3. We want our children to determine their boundaries, with input from the parents. This will look different for each child and each family.
4. The most visible courtships are the Duggar Family or the Bates family since they have a TV audience, though their parameters are not necessarily the only valid means.
This gives you a general overview of where we gleaned information. I have also looked over other teachings on the subject but they were not a good fit for our family, so I am not linking them here.
Having said all of this - how did it translate into real life? That will be my next post....