Saturday, August 30, 2008

Teaching Kids To Pray For Their Special Someone

Princess has obviously dove into school in the prime time of awaking hormonal awareness issues. I mentioned in the previous post that she had a little boy bugging her because he liked her. By the end of the week there were three of them and they were doing that little school yard ritual of sending one over to ask her if she liked the other, or passing a note through that same gopher friend to find out the same. Man, I remember that so well, yet it sank back somewhere in my memory till now. On Friday she received a love note: "I love you, do you like me?" to which she replied: "no, not really". Then, the little boy was crying and she felt bad so she sent another note: "I'll be your friend though." to which she received by way of above mentioned gopher/carrier (pity that guy) a fancy pencil with thus note attached: "okay! This is a gift!".

Oh, my....the comedy.

Christy from Zimms Zoo had an excellent point in her comment on our last post:

"It does seem that these days parents think it is so cute for elementary kids to have "boyfriends". I say that is an extremely slippery slope."

I totally agree with Christy. There is nothing cute about encouraging children to play marriage, and they will only go from there to escalate their process of playing that game. It's a biological process with a climatic end. Do we really want them on that road at all? NO! Pretend on this topic ended in kindergarten when they played house...those days are over and they need to know it!

We encouraged Princess to be a friend to everyone. Right now of course she is more annoyed by the attention and would rather avoid these boys but we are trying to make a point to be kind to everyone. Though this age is normal for those feelings to really start bubbling to the surface in kids, we have to be aware as parents that their exposures on television or elsewhere are more than likely far above where our child has been mentally.

Right before school she and I did a lot of talking. I wanted things to come from me. It went really well. Once I told her things, I was able to explain God's plan for marriage, commitment, and therefore appropriate behaviour when these feelings start to bubble up through the growing up years. She all ready has a major crush on the actor who plays Prince Caspian, so I know she is starting to notice the opposite sex. Like most girls, she is noticing ones a little older rather than those at her own awkward age. I am not threatened by this, or panicked. It's healthy and normal. But, it is a catalyst for a time of discipling that begins now and goes on till the day she walks down that isle.

So, I begin to prayerfully ask what I can do, how to teach. Yes, there are books I've gathered, there are ways it was done for me, but what does God have for these children? Well, right now we begin with the practical blanket statement of every ones friend. Neither shun, a classmate, nor is it appropriate to treat one as more than a friend.

I think a very practical development at this time is to guide Princess through beginning to pray for her future spouse that God has for her. I wish I had done that earlier (I started to when I was in college) than I did so that I could be reminded that if God had a mate for me, he was out there, and he was real. Prayer for God to develop his character even now through his growing up years, and prayer to save romance for him. These are more simple terms at this age. We don't want to ignore the topic and therefore leave room for their secret imaginations to fill the void, or the comments of their friends or else. Nor do we want to overkill the subject and take away what is indeed left of their childhood years. What we REALLY don't want to do is make them feel wrong for their developing feelings. I am absolutely sure this can lead to unhealthy understandings and even guilt burdens in regard to what God has programed in us naturally. We want her to know it IS NORMAL, it is, what do we do with it? Prayer for their future spouse is a mental compass of sorts to keep guiding her back to the goal God has for her.

Rick and I feel that a simple guideline is as follows. (1) Your romantic feelings though noticeable for years are not to be acted upon until you are ready for it's ultimate goal...marriage. If you are not ready to marry, you are not to be engaged in marriage building behavior. (2) and much later on.... If you would not do it to your brother, you should not do it to a boy. I often was confused as a teen as to what was right and wrong in a relationship. There were many adults who I heard discuss it and many would say that it was something you just had to pray whether it was right and obey conviction on.....baloney! When you are feeling those feelings, you are not ready to do those mental processes. However, a practical line is drawn by thinking "would I kiss my brother on the lips?" "heavens, no!" (well, maybe in a Greek or Russian family, but I know my girls won't want to:). "Would I hold his hand?" "Well, yes." (and please remember I am not speaking now, I'm speaking later when the #1 issue has been settled, that being whether you are prepared for marriage in a relationship and okay with being headed in that direction). "Would I kiss him on the cheek?" "Well, yes" (if he was nice:).

The fact is, until we are married, we are in essence brothers and sisters in the Lord (and of course this is all under the disciplining to be pursuing a man of God though I have not mentioned that yet). What we would not do with our physical brother, we should not do with our spiritual one. These are clear, and easy guidelines, and it will be how we will be presenting the harnessing of romantic emotions over the next decade of our daughters life.

The important thing that I'm having to remember now, and I'm excited for the new challenges because of, is that we are beginning to open up those channels of discussion. I don't want to shame her for having feelings if they do come up because that shuts down the channel and it's a fearful reaction. Instead, I need to reaffirm that God gave her these feelings and they are great! I don't need to be fearful, or panic, I need to put my discipling hat on and take her hand boldly but with prayers for wisdom.

Today, I'm thankful she is annoyed by the boys. For today anyway. :)


Kristen Borland said...

cute picture!!

this is such an interesting topic! i feel like we are so far from having to deal with these issues, and yet i know it comes so fast (and earlier and earlier each generation!). these are good thoughts. thanks for sharing! i started praying for my future husband when i was 16, when the speaker at camp encouraged me to start that. little did i know little mikie borland, whom i probably joked around with that very same day, had been praying for me (specifically me) for two years already! it's a wonderful thing that truly prepares you and works on your heart.

just last night mike and i were talking about these decisions we are going to have to make with regard to our little girl--when she can get her ears pierced, when she can wear make-up and shave her legs, etc., not to mention dating! we definitely feel these things should wait as long as possible and until she's ready to handle them. i can already feel myself starting to make double standards for our girls and boys because the issues are so different! mike was asking me who taught me about dressing modestly and if it was explained to me why it was so important, and we went through all that. i think these things can slide by if you don't know ahead of time how you want to tackle them and what your rules are (and how committed you are to sticking to them).

Zimms Zoo said...

I think that this is a great idea. I already pray for them and that the Lord will protect their hearts until the right one comes along.

Having them pray too might make it more real to them that God wants them to wait for the RIGHT one, not just someone.

tricia said...

I have been praying for my kids future mate for a while now. I have mentioned to Iw that he should pray for his future wife. I also pray that God will give my kids the desire to wait for the person that He has chosen for them.

Christina said...

Great post. I agree with you about treating the opposite sex as brothers. I too wish someone had told me that when I was in college. It's a pretty clear guideline.

Anonymous said...

This is indeed, a very interesting topic. I'm a new reader and so i wasn't sure exactly how old Princess is - i'm guessing by her picture, maybe 5th or 6th grade??

I'm wondering if you could answer a couple of questions, just because i'm really curious about this topic. Are you saying that even when Princess enters into a serious adult relationship, that she is not to kiss on the lips? What if she is engaged to her future husband? Are they supposed to wait until after marriage to kiss or even passionately embrace? Have you chosen a specific age in which she might be allowed to start dating? Say when she's 15 or 16 would she be allowed to go out for lunch with a boy she was interested in, or would that not be appropriate? (Sorry for so many questions!)

I hope this doesn't have a sarcastic or rude "feeling" to it, by the way, if we were having a discussion in person you could see that, ha ha! :)

PS - Good for her for telling that boy that she wasn't interested! That story made me laugh. At least she got a fancy-schmancy pencil out of the deal...:)

Amber (i live in s.l.o. county)

Alicia said...

Thanks for asking.
You know, I believe some of these things are like saying exactly what you will do the next ten years of your life. Some of the details you go on your knees about once you get there.
To answer some things specifically....
Right now our thoughts are to not let here date one on one until she is 18. We feel one on one dating is a means to an end of marriage and I would not advise her to marry before 18. Before that, she is welcome to go in groups, or with adults present or even possibly double date if we approve the situation and setting. I would have to feel out details when the time came.
I do believe that kissing on the lips should be saved for after a commitment to be married has been given. Even then, I would support if she wanted to wait even on that. By the time she is engaged she is going to need to make these decisions herself, but this would be my advise to her. Always remember that an engagement can end, and in that the brother/sister rule is a fool proof way of no regrets. Passionate embracing, I do believe is a dangerous ground and I would not advise it before engagement at all. Even after engagement I would advise against it just as I would not advise her to get as close as she could to a forest fire. It is alo a means to an end goal of intimacy and we have to be mature enough to know what it's building purpose is and when our brians stop using normal processes and switch to harmonal impulse.
I would not let her go out to lunch with a boy at 15 or 16 unless her father and I were driving them, and at the other end of the place. Remember, my belief is that dating is an end to a means of marriage and I would not approve a marriage at 15 or 16. The teen years are a time to get to know the opposite sex under the guise of friendship and brotherhood, sisterhood. The only other definition is romance and that is for those who are ready to be wed.
I understand that it is a much clearer line than most people make but I see the same problems with encouraging romantic dating at 16 that I see at 10. All maner of romantic behavior would be inappropriate because of the same reason, she is not ready to be married.
The bible says to not let the marriage bed be defiled in Heb. 13:4
4Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure..

One way to keep that marriage bed pure is to teach them to show the same restraint they would after marriage..for see, in God's eyes, they belong to someone now just as they will then. I would not go out and passionately embrace a man or kiss him on the lips...because he is not my husband, he is my brother in the Lord. It is the same deal before hand only more triky as the engagement time proceeds.
If passionate kissing and embracing make one want to do things that are done in marriage...then yes, I will advise my daughter to be on her guard. Once she is an adult, I can only advise and pray. I can't tell her what to do.
God is good to work all for His glory..we don't have to be afraid. Even if mistakes are made along the way (though we strive for purity, His glory, and wisdom) He is faithful. I will not be uptight and judgemental, but I will strive to point my children to truth and purity. So that they may receive the fullest blessing in their marriage that God want's for them. That's what I want for them most, His full blessing through obedience.
Does that help?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it did help. Thank you for responding!