I grew up in a strict household.
Strict, but my parents had two different approaches. The difference between my mother and father was that he was a rules man and my mother was more of a standards woman.
For example, the rule in our family was no attending dances until age fourteen and no dating until you’re sixteen years old. My father enforced the rules in black and white, absolute terms.
It was very difficult to hear from friends about what I had missed at school dances, but my parents gave heavy consideration to age suitability and appropriateness in everything.
However, at age fourteen my mother could see that I was very taken by a particular girl and that I really didn’t have a more personal way to get to know her.
Therefore, on a special occasion my mother arranged to take us both to a fancy restaurant with my mother acting as our chaperone and private chauffeur. Imagine the three of us in the front seat of the car as my mother tried to move the conversation on as non-awkwardly as possible.
Throughout the evening my mother would give me an affirming glance whenever I held the door open for the two of them and warmly smile across the table at me as I chose the right cutlery to hold for my various courses.
My mother understood that in dating, as in life, standards are of the utmost importance but also that under the right circumstances rules could be bent.
When I turned sixteen and was allowed to date, my mother strongly recommended “group dating” so that my options could be kept comfortably open. Options, she would explain, were crucial in affording ourselves the opportunity to learn what traits in the opposite sex we preferred, without committing to any one person too soon.
If I was to date “one-on-one” she was very clear on all areas of dating etiquette. Everything from making the date a creative and fun experience to the good night kiss (or lack thereof) to all things a gentleman needs to know, would be discussed.
A note to mothers: teach your sons all that you can about being the right kind of man. It’s the best thing you can do for your daughters.
I still wonder what fun times I may have missed at those school dances before the age of fourteen, but I am more appreciative of what I gained in perspective on living with standards and dating integrity.
Thanks Mom and Happy Mother’s Day this weekend.