That Boy Dating Your Daughter is More Than a Nuisance
by Shawn McEvoy, Director of Editorial
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…
My little girl will turn eight in a week, and believe it or not… I'm looking forward to the day she starts bringing boys home.
Oh, believe me, there's no rush. I'm happy to remain Numero Uno in little Lauren's eyes as long as possible. All I'm really saying here is that I believe in her, in how she's being raised, in how she's taking after her mother. Whoever she brings home - I'm confident saying - is not going to be a person without redeeming qualities.
So what has me so primed for this experience that I don't sound like the typical dad at the door with a sneer and a shotgun? What else? The experience of having been valued and trusted myself.
Twenty-three years ago I didn't know it, but I became part of a family. The McGriffs were a very unique family. When I met their eldest daughter, Dick and Susan had just remarried each other after having divorced each other. I never knew all the details, only that this was their first example to me of it never being too late, of recognizing wrongs and repenting.
They took to me right away, but don't get the impression that they didn't lay down the law or have rules. It was the way they imposed them - agreeably, fairly, seriously - that made so much of a difference. It's not even that they didn't try to "change" me - to be perfectly honest they did try: suggesting Christian alternatives to my secular music, suggesting viewed-at-their-home Cary Grant movies to the ones I would have preferred taking their daughter to the theater to see, giving us five minutes after a date to say goodnight before the front lights would be flicked on and off signaling that, okay, that's enough now.
I dated Malia for four-and-a-half years, off and on. During that time I built memories, house-sat for their family, came to cherish younger sisters Michelle and Amy like they were my own. Oh, like most young couples our relationship wasn't perfect; we would fight and make things more difficult than they had to be, just as I continue to do. But from her folks there was always instruction, encouragement, solidity. Laughs and firm handshakes. Always trust regardless.
Thanks to Facebook, I've regained contact with these three sisters, observed how their family has grown, and chuckled at the way they continue to interact despite living all over the country (Malia in particular had the most amazing talent for taking tense situations and making them laughable, one I'm told she still has, one that is a story for another time). I sent them the following email:
Just wanna say… You three are still some of my favorite people I've ever met, especially for a trio of sisters. I love how life has worked out for all of you, and how large that family has grown, and how involved your folks are in visiting. You have fantastic men who seem to get you and treat you well.
You're all three beautiful examples of Christian motherhood and of being distinctly individual yet connected. It was transformative to grow up as a semi-adopted part of your clan, and it's a blessing to see your joy - and how you've dealt with the pains - today.
You gals rock!
And from each I received back a distinctive, meaningful, heartfelt response. And I traced it all to the commitments, re-commitments, and never-give-up attitudes their parents made so obvious without being annoying. And shoot, even if they were ever annoying, I love them the more for it now.
There are opportunities everywhere. And yes, there are dangers. And times are different, and believe me - I know guys and what is on their minds. But I was politely welcomed and discipled as more than the sum of my convertible sportscar + raging hormones, and in so many ways, that made as much difference as several lessons my own parents modeled for me.
Thanks again, McGriff family.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Are you nervous about your daughter starting to date? Why or why not? Have you taken an active role in helping her decide in advance what choices are better than others? Will you be able to understand or tolerate failings? Are you able to be firm while smiling and maintaining a sense of humor or gentility? Willing to be labeled as old-fashioned but resolute in knowing your ways are good ways? You never know who or what that boy is going to become, but you have a chance to help ensure it's something good.