Written by Gloria Fong
Translated by Publication team
Did your child ever tell you, “Mom, I want to marry you!”? My son did that when he was young, and I laughed so hard at that time. Now my son is actually dating someone, putting his arm on another girl’s shoulder, not thinking of me first like he used to do in the past…. I have the same smile on my face, but somehow feel sour in my heart. Maybe it is time for me to realize mom is no longer the “queen.” Our princes and princesses will have their own happy lives.
My older daughter started dating when she was in middle school. I took out and reread the twenty some personal “love letters” that I wrote to her about dating at that time. One of them was titled, “Indeed in love!?”. In the letter, I wrote, “I was sleepless the night when I knew that you were dating behind our back.” This tells exactly what is in a mother’s mind: worrying that school is being neglected, their children are not mature enough to handle a relationship, or they’re being taken advantage…etc.
Dating is good training for adolescents to learn and grow in interpersonal relationships, especially with the opposite sex. In spite of our worries, my husband and I also understand there is very little we can do. Letting our children know we are standing by them instead of against them is always a wiser way to go. It is always a lose-lose situation if our parent-child relationship becomes messed up from our child’s dating life, no matter how their dating relationships turn out.
When our children are maturing, going through puberty, dating and their rebellious stages, they are actually learning and exploring the world. Open communication and dialogue is the key to parent-child relationships, and can keep the channel of coaching or guiding open.
As children gradually grow up, all of a sudden they will go farther and disappear from your sight. In the beginning of the last semester of my son’s senior year in college, he had been going out more with his girlfriend especially around Valentine’s Day. So he had to cut down on his sleep time in order to catch up on two assignments before the deadline. I chose to respect his decision, and was happy when he told me, “I will take full responsibility for my decision.”
I have been a college lecturer for more than 10 years. When it comes to principles of life, no matter what kind of students they are, they will still respectfully pay attention to what I have to say. Presenting the same thing at home is a totally different story. My son will immediately tell me, “Please do not coach me.” I still find opportunities to boldly share my values, and at the same time try my best not to nag. Just getting my message across is more than enough.
My husband and I have been involved in the media for many years. We like to casually bring up news, interesting stories in the entertainment circle, like how such and such organization has done a survey on youth dating or mentioning certain celebrities who are separating… hoping to approach the topics of dating, love and sex in a relaxed way with our kids. Sometimes we also share our own love story with them.
Quality time together such as eating out, family outings or hiking, is an important way to make children feel loved and cared for and eventually nourishes good parent-child relationships. With a good base for a relationship, it will not be too difficult to start any conversation on sensitive dating issues like: how can you observe the character quality of a date? How can you protect yourself on a date? What is the bottom line for intimacy? What is true love? How should we best handle a break up?
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him” (Ps. 127:3). Children are all unique individuals. They are not tools controlled by their parents. Pray that the Lord will help us become faithful stewards, and grant us wisdom to walk alongside our children as they mature in their different stages of life, including their love and dating journeys; and for us to know when is a time to guide, and when is a time to let go.
Author: Gloria Fong has long been in the media field. She is also a college lecturer, a life coach of young people, and a mother of two grown-up children. She enjoys reading and writing, and is good at sharing her reflections on life through publication via different platforms.
Author retains copyright and grants Presence and Presence Hong Kong the right of publication.
Presence Quotient®, also known as Presence, is a Christian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides tools and training to help individuals and families apply Christian and family values to their everyday lives.