Happily Ever After Can Wait

A parent’s arsenal is loaded with heavy ammunition when teaching teens to abstain from sex.  Disease, pregnancy, religious commandment – these are pretty loaded bullet points in the “Wait until you’re married” talk.

But what convincing arguments do we have against falling in love?

Maybe you don’t think there should be an argument against teens falling in love.  My experience is teaching me otherwise.

Love, at an early age, brings a certain kind of responsibility, obligation, limitation that emotionally immature teens aren’t always ready to handle.  It adds stress and worry to what could be the most carefree days in a young person’s life.  Feeling the need to carry someone else’s happiness and well-being on your slender shoulders tends to age you before your time.

I read back through my diaries, and it seems like I was always “in love.”  Except that when I look at the dates, each new “love” tended to be spaced a mere handful of weeks apart.  No one name (until I was an older teen), stayed on the books for more than a solid year.

Because of my own experiences over the last year (plus) in a situation with my young teenage daughter, I see things a little differently, and I’ve become suddenly aware of how often teens are sold on The Great Love Story.  Her favorite books?  Twilight.  Her favorite song?  Love Story (by Taylor Swift).  Her favorite movie?  A Walk to Remember.  All three involve teenagers involved in The Greatest Love of All, A Love to End All Loves.

I never thought I’d say it, but sometimes I am more threatened by these than by ads that show young girls in immodest clothes.  My girls respect themselves too much to know that their body is up for grabs.  But their hearts?  Oh, their hearts are for the taking!

I feel totally alone in my concerns.  Teenage love is widely accepted as innocent and as just part of “growing up.”  I think I agree with that, to an extenet.  I just don’t think that part of “growing up” needs to come so early, or so intensely.  I am a mother shouting against the giddy opposition who roots for Happily Ever After.  And I am determined not to lose my voice.

  • I hear you… I don’t know that as a teen I would have responded well to “don’t fall in love” – though I did plan on guarding my heart until the right guy came along. I still had crushes but I was aware that that’s what they were. Still, I guess you could say my heart was “there for the taking” – lol.

    I think you’re on the right track if you’re teaching your daughter to respect herself and remind her that she doesn’t need a guy to complete her. If you’re not content without a guy (just to have someone to love) then you won’t be content with one. 🙂

  • The first thing I thought of when I saw your Tweet was Twilight, LOL. I have two boys and I’m just as concerned. Can not yet allow my mind to go there, my oldest just turned 11.

  • netta

    Oh Stacey,
    I am so with you. I have been teaching my children along these lines for a long time and often get quite the looks whenever I am brave enough to voice them in public. You’d be amazed at the comments, etc. I get about my belief that a kiss should be saved for the one you marry and that along with that our hearts need to be protected until the time when we might be ready to start considering marriage. I could go on and on, but will stop there. Just wanted to let you know I am in your court. Also have you heard of the book “I kissed dating good bye”. Excellent read.

  • Melissa

    Love this post! I agree completely.

  • I fell madly in love at 18. A true love. A love that would never end. Unfortunately it did end, 18 months later. However I would never take that experience back – EVER. He was a good guy. I was a good girl. We were going to be married and live happily ever after. He was my first kiss, he took me to my first concert, my first dance. I still think fondly about that 18 months and learned more about what I wanted in a life long mate AND what I DIDN’T want than if I had had crushes on 15 guys before my husband. Was I devastated when it ended? YES! Did I cry for weeks on end? YES! But it also taught me how to guard my heart in a way that my mother could never explain. It also taught me that I could weather a pain like that and survive. It gave me emotional strength. It made me less scared of living my life and gave me confidence in myself. I love my husband and my love for my husband is different than my love was at 18. But I still loved that boy, and that love taught me a lot about what a forever love should be like.

    I do want to protect my daughter. I do want to keep her modest and chaste, but I also want to prepare her for her own life and having your heart broken – at least once – is part of that process.

  • Jen

    This is a tough one. While I agree that some teens get too emotionally attached at a young age, I also had a boyfriend for 2 years in high school and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I definitely was in love with him, but I was mature enough to know that I was only in love as much as a 16 yr old can be and that I didn’t plan on marrying him. I knew that in college I’d love someone else and someday I’d get married and love my husband even more.
    Due to the age difference between your daughter and the young man, perhaps it will fade naturally in time, or maybe you and the other parents can discuss the need to lessen the intensity of this young love.

  • Jamie

    Bravo, Stacey! I agree with you: the idea of love as peddled by books, magazines, music, movies, and society in general is neither accurate nor healthy for young girls.

    And honestly, I don’t think that dating and going through the painful process of “falling in love” and breaking up — possibly over and over again — is the best way to prepare for the lasting commitment of marriage.

    Keep “shouting against the giddy opposition who roots for Happily Ever After,” Stacey. (Which is exactly what you are rooting for too, it’s just that you have a different kind of Happily Ever After in mind.) You are doing a commendable job.

  • We guard hearts, too, at our house. My kids don’t date. They will go more along the lines of courtship when the time is right. Healthy attractions are a positive sign, I think though. Especially when I see the types of people they are attracted to. Good stuff.

  • Gosh, this is so very true. Just wanted to say how excellent this post is.