I have two, beautiful teenage daughters. Both of them happen to be in their first serious relationships. Now before you scoff, you scoffers… let me ask you all a question. What exactly is it that you scoff at? The first emotion that a child feels is love. (Before correcting me, hunger is not an emotion). The security and calm they feel wrapped in their mother’s arms, is love. In the purest of forms. Before it gets complicated and mixed with a thousand other words.
As these little creatures blossom into children, and then into teenagers, their capacity to love is still full, and complete. I’m not sure what makes parents jump in and intervene with sentences like, “You don’t know what love is,” “You’re too young to be in love,” or one of my personal favorites, “Boys your age are only after one thing.”
Let’s reflect, shall we?
“You don’t know what love is,”- ummmm have you not been showing your child since birth what love is? That it’s putting someone before yourself? That it’s being there for them, even when you’re upset with them? That when they fall down you will pick them up and brush them off? That love is a secure warm place of trust and loyalty? If your teenager doesn’t know what love is, YOU’VE done something wrong.
“You’re too young to be in love.”- Interesting. Too young to be so jaded, maybe. Too young to know what’s good for you, perhaps. Too young to be so full of hate, yes. Too young to know all of the struggles adults face in relationships, yes. But too young to be in love? Too young to know that being around someone makes you a better person? Too young to know that your words get stuck in your throat and that you would actually ride your bike 15 miles just to see someone for 30 minutes? I disagree. Yes, as we age, how we view love changes, but that is solely because of our experiences with it. It isn’t love that changes. Love is timeless. It is steady. It is constant.
“Boys your age are only after one thing,” – Well. Wow. How rude! That’s a pretty big assessment. And I have daughters!! I would hope my daughters are able to pick “those types” out. Because those type of people are all over the world, in career paths, in love, standing against you. They will hurt you. But that’s not all people. And hopefully, it isn’t the guy that you’ve spent 8 months dating through the 11th grade. That doesn’t really apply now does it? Are teenagers sexual. Yes. WE ALL WERE. Does that mean it’s all we were after? Does it mean once they got it, they were gone? Sometimes that is a real life lesson. But it’s not a cross the board assessment. If your parents (even the ones that managed to wait until marriage) tell you that they never thought it, they’re lying. And the fact that you would lie to your teen in a vulnerable time of their life, seems extremely counterproductive.
Moving forward, parents:
Think back to the very first person that made your breath catch in your throat. Think about the first person you loved doing absolutely anything with. How about the first person you were petrified to let see you in your bathing suit. Or naked? The person that you knew would be waiting for you when you came to school after a night of crying because of a fight with your parents. The teenage boy that was willing to risk the wrath of your father to throw rocks at your window just to tell you he loved you one more time. The one willing to look your father in the eye and say he would take care of you, and your dad believed him (as much as a daddy possibly can).
That love, ohhhh it’s sweet. It’s innocent. It’s unbroken. Whole. All encompassing. Before bills, before careers, before there was anything other than AP English and Geometry to pull your focus from each other.
I think what actually happens to parents… is life. They’ve experienced their hurts, their bruises, their stacks of bills to pay, and when they see that sparkle in their child they almost hate it, because they feel like it won’t last. That it will eventually just turn into a regular damn Tuesday. They don’t want their child to be let down, so they feel the need to tell them those destructive lines, to protect them somehow. What that does is actually create that rift where a teen feels like their parent doesn’t get them. Because they can’t see how they’re feeling, and how real it is.
I’m writing this because currently, my oldest daughter (16) is dating a senior (he will be 18 in March) and his mother is not happy about the intensity of their relationship. As a protective parent, I get that feeling. I understand it. But I am not going to be a victim of it. I have the capacity to realize that the love these two feel, is very real. Songs are written about it. People reflect on the what ifs 20, 30, 50 years later. Shakespeare felt it. I also realize that intervention on my behalf will do nothing but create loathing and a gaping wound that also looks like a alligator filled mote between my daughter and I. Yes, they’re both honor students. Yes, he’s got a 32 on his ACTs. Yes, I understand that your fear of him giving up something because of his feelings for Hailey is a possibility.
What you aren’t realizing is this:
-If you make them break up, the what if column for that relationship goes crazy. Because they will not be breaking up on their own free will. You will make them both wonder, forever. That creates complications in all of their future love decisions.
– They’re teenagers, let’s face it, the more you are against something (for what appears to be no reason) the more they will run toward it.
– You’ve raised a beautiful child. Who loves someone. You have a son that is trying to tell you that he loves a girl. Listen to him. Have you ever watched their faces around each other?
-Creating stress in his life while he is taking AP classes, taking final tests, and applying to college only will add more undue stress and make those things harder for him to focus on.
-Your frustration toward their relationship creates self doubt in my daughter, about her self-worth, and why you would see her as something bad for your son, when she clearly cares for his well being.
Lastly… what you aren’t realizing is:
-They’re smart kids. Teenagers. Smart ones. Smart teenagers. Read that again. They’re both brilliant academically. They have goals. Ambitions. They make each other study. If you get rid of Hailey… after he mourns the loss of that good relationship, what might his next girl friend be like? Or will you be like this his whole life? To any woman in his life? Will that rift make him come home often once he’s out on his own? Or will Christmas at your house be something he suffers through every five years?
Let’s face it.
We want the best for them. Right now the best for them, is a warm bed, good grades, loving parents, siblings to argue with, and each other. Until one of them changes any of those factors, why not enjoy that expression on their faces. The giddiness in their voices. The fact that they communicate with us, openly. Why would you stand against that?