“So what did you two talk about?”
Jessica had the biggest smile I have ever seen on her face.
“Oh, we just talked about stuff,” I answered.
Jessica continued her massive smile and held her hands up above her head.
“He isn’t telling me anything either!” she exclaimed.
“You know,” I told her “we guys can have man-to-man talks and we don’t have to tell you women anything.”
A couple of months ago a friend of mine at church gave me the book “Interviewing Your Daughter’s Date”. I was glad to receive the book, but I wasn’t planning on needing it for my fourteen-year-old daughter. I figured I would need it for my oldest daughter who will be turning sixteen next spring. The rules at our home don’t allow dating until the age of sixteen. That is something I don’t plan on changing any time soon. In fact, I would push it to eighteen if I thought they would be compliant.
Still, girls and boys will like each other. In the face of this reality I had two choices when I discovered a blossoming relationship between Jessica and Bryce. I could either set myself at odds with the two of them and create a forbidden love type of situation, or I could embrace the fact that these two young adults like each other, and become an engaged participant.
I decided the smartest thing to do was to invite this young gentleman to a meeting, so last Friday we met at the local McDonald’s for a visit. I learned some valuable lessons during this meeting and I thought it would be fun, and maybe helpful for someone, to share them here.
1. Young adults don’t like talking about the rules.
I guess this is something I should have known ahead of time, but I didn’t. After Bryce and I made some introductions I began to share our house rules with him. These rules are pretty straight forward, and both of my older daughters are quite familiar with them. I was very surprised to find out how uninformed he was. Someone at work today told me, “It’s just not cool to sit with your friends and talk about your family rules.” That seems kind of obvious to me now, but it wasn’t as obvious last week.
2. Everyone is scared.
All week long Jessica kept telling me how scared Bryce was to be meeting with me. I told her more than once it wasn’t my plan to just try to scare him away. When I pulled into the parking lot of McDonald’s my heart was racing quite a bit as well. I started our conversation by getting him to tell me a little bit about his family. We both seemed to relax a little during this part of the interview.
3. This meeting wasn’t just about protecting Jessica.
It’s pretty easy for most dads to get focused on protecting our perfect little angel daughters, and I’m no exception. As last Friday drew closer, I started to realize that this meeting was just as much about this young man as it was about the young woman I love so much. Once I realized that Bryce had unknowingly violated a couple of our family rules, I realized that he needed some important advice. Before your imagination gets away from you please understand that these rule violations were very minor in nature. They are just a couple of simple boundaries we keep with all our children. Anyway, I looked at Bryce and told him, “Never let a young lady talk you into violating rules you don’t even know exist.” Jessica is an awesome daughter, and I am blessed to have her in my life. Still, she had talked Bryce into a couple of things that she knew were against our rules. I’m not coming down on her heavily. She’s human and prone to making mistakes just like the rest of us.
As we finished up our meeting I looked Bryce in the eyes and asked him, “So what do you think?” He looked at me, and with a very somber face said, “I will obey your rules.” I could tell he was very serious.
Over the last week he has proven his character. I have seen a couple of simple changes that demonstrated to me how seriously he took our meeting. The changes he made were things that, if he had wanted, could have been kept a secret from Julie and me. He chose instead to take a less traveled path and honor my wishes even though I was oblivious to the circumstances. I communicated with him in a text message that I was indeed impressed with his decisions.
It’s scary to see my daughters interested in boys who aren’t part of some famous band. When it’s just a poster on the wall, it’s not very disconcerting. When they start liking boys right here in our own community, it’s unnerving. Sitting down with a young man and having a 30-minute conversation has done wonders for everyone involved.
I think we have all grown up a little bit this last week. A young man knows the rules, a young women knows her dad isn’t out to get her, and an old man knows his daughter chooses young men who have some character.