Monday, January 17, 2011

Youth Standards

Artwork by Norman Rockwell

Okay, so there have a been a few little bits of "drama" that have been going on in my kids circle of friends that prompts me to write down my thoughts and ideas on the matter.

First of all, our family subscribes to the standards set forth in the booklet called "For the Strength of Youth" put out by our church (The LDS Church, a.k.a. "Mormon"). This is a wonderful guide for our whole family to follow, because it reminds us of the scriptural teachings regarding morality and spirituality that will bring us closer to Christ.

Image courtesy of

One thing in particular that we are currently dealing with, is when youth not of our faith don't understand my kids' standards with regard to DATING and PAIRING OFF. Here is what "For the Strength of Youth" says about it:
Not all teenagers need to date or even want to. Many young people do not date during their teen years because they are not yet interested, do not have opportunities, or simply want to delay forming serious relationships. However, good friendships can and should be developed at every age.
When you begin dating, go in groups or on double dates. Avoid going on frequent dates with the same person. Make sure your parents meet those you date. You may want to invite your dates to activities with your family. Plan dating activities that are positive and inexpensive and that will help you get to know each other. Do things that will help you and your companions maintain your self-respect and remain close to the Spirit of the Lord. See 2 Corinthians 6:14
Notice the part I highlighted? This is where our family has decided to be in terms of dating until our youth are of marriageable age. We will allow casual group dating when we know the family well, AND when those they will be dating are of our same faith.

Recently, one of my oldest boys received a long, romantic poem written for him by a young lady in our circle of friends. It actually mortified my son, and caused lots of discomfort and concern for us, as parents. I have gone back and forth as to how to react. Do I share the letter with the young woman's parents? (It was written anonymously, but we're pretty certain as to it's author.) Do we ignore it? Or do we seek to educate this young lady regarding our family standards? Or would that embarrass her?

For now, the letter is in my possession, and I am grateful that my son feels comfortable enough in our relationship to share it with my husband and I. As to what to do about the young lady in question, I'm still praying about it. I will continue to do some sleuthing, and find out FOR SURE who wrote the poem and sent it. I'd appreciate any advice my readers here can give, as well!

One thing I WILL be doing, is laying down the law in my Shakespeare class regarding crushes and silliness between members of the cast. (The poem-letter was delivered during auditions last week. Yeah, I'm pretty UPSET about it!) There is nothing that can destroy the peace in a class, in a production, and in friendships like that kind of nonsense. Grrr!

Your thoughts? (Thanks in advance!)


  1. Looking back, seems like most teenagers are powered by silliness, crushes and such. Not having read the poem, I can't really say, but I would think that since it's anonymous, I would just wait awhile and see whether the storm settles or not before taking serious action. But only you know the depth of the situation and therefore are entitled to help with the problem from God.

  2. Thanks for your response, Mandy! I don't allow my kids to be silly about members of the opposite sex, so it's been rather jolting for us. (We've had other individual "issues" with other kids having crushes on our kids before, but not many were so direct.)

    The young lady in question is new to our class, and is also not LDS. I don't wish to offend her or her parents, but I'm now concerned about how this semester is going to go. *sigh*

    I did just send an e-mail to just the parents, letting them know before-hand that I'll be talking to their kids about (in vague, non-specific terms!) during class this week. Hopefully, that will help some things.

  3. Your kids are very lucky you've set some clear boundaries. My parents said "No dating before 16" but I wish they had given us more counsel about how to go about dating after 16. I was one of those silly girls (I'm quite embarrassed to admit) that had a crush on each of my male friends for at least a week. I don't know how I'll handle those teenager years; with prayer and tact - just like you are doing. I think you will be able to squash the problem before it gets overblown.

  4. Thanks for you candid, sweet response, Jessi. I feel the same way!I had the same experience, and was REALLY silly about boys, myself! *eyeroll*

    In today's world, I don't think it's enough to say "Don't date until you're sixteen," but then not teach our kids that dating is designed for finding a marriage partner!

    I'm cooking up an OFM post on this subject, because the dating world as it currently exists-- even in LDS culture-- is really starting to concern me!

  5. I shudder to think about the teen years and yet I know they are coming...

    Yes, wholeheartedly agree that even in LDS culture the dating world seems to mostly have stopped at "don't date before 16", but afterward it's pretty open. Have you read the book Unsteady: What Every parent Absolutely Must Know About Teenage Romance by JeaNette G. Smith? It is fantastic and really gives you the ways to explain so even teens (including non LDS) understand the standards and why to guard your heart. Part of her book was quoted in the April 2010 New Era (that is the special issue focused on Dating for Beginners). Take a peek at page 42 of her article in there to see the funnel theory - great. She pairs it with a chart in her book that equates physical behaviors like handshake, hug, kiss, etc with each level of friendship.

    Okay, now I'm off to reread that book so I can do a post on it. I bought my copy at Deseret Book Online after reading Dana's review on Latter-Day Homeschooling here:

  6. We are not there yet. But we have already gone over those parts several times. I am not sure what we will do when we face these issues. I thinking sharing standards sounds pretty good.

  7. i look at so much of teenage drama and flirting as par for the course. i think of the things I did and said and who I liked (which also changed quickly) and i laugh at my stupidity. I think a lot of it is just to test the waters to see if you are liked back. I wouldn't get too upset unless it is ongoing or inappropriate.
    The biggest thing I would take away is that you have a good enough relationship with your son to be open. if that continues, then no matter what, you don't have to worry. You can discuss things with him and let him know where you stand with your family values and peoples more worldy views don't have to effect you.
    As for only dating to find a marriage partner, i must say I disagree a little. yes that is the purpose, but I think a LOT can be learned from dating in groups or single dates that will make a big difference in your choice in a marriage partner. You found someone good for you young. I shudder to think who I would have been eternally stuck to if I had married people I dated/"liked" at that same age. Dating can be casual and can be a real learning experience before dating to find a spouse is in the picture. just my 2 cents.

  8. We have had experience with you know. :-)

    My younger teens often inform their friends, both LDS and of other faiths, what the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet says and why they follow it. They are always appalled when the young teens, some not even in their teens yet, are paring off at church functions. I have talked to parents of my Beehives about this and I'm very saddened by their reactions...its a "kids will be kids" reaction that just breaks my heart. I doubt bringing this up to the girl's parents will be helpful (that is my experience anyway). Talking to your entire class about it IS helpful and is your prerogative as the mentor/instructor.

    As for bringing it up with the girl yourself, unless it was a very descriptive or vastly inappropriate letter, I wouldn't talk to her directly the first time. Especially since you addressed the entire cast. If it happens a second time, after you have addressed your class, I would try to talk to her about it. Some youth just think they know everything and will not listen to ANY adults.

    Even Nayna, who is now sixteen, has not dated yet. She saw the silliness and heartache her older sister went through and has learned through others that it is not worth it right now. She attends dances and functions with groups. I'm thankful our stake here has a Priest/Laurel (youth 16 to 18 years of age) formal that DISCOURAGES couples and asks that everyone comes without a date. It makes it so much more fun and less pressure.

    It is hard to watch our kids grow up in a world that is not what we want for them. Your son did the right thing by bringing it to you. :-)

    Good luck!

  9. Tricia, I think where we're differing a bit is in the definition of "dating." My kids will go on group dates, if they wish (my seventeen year old daughter is not yet interested in that), but I think single dating is-- at best-- just useless or-- at the worst-- dangerous unless one is of age to be looking for a marriage partner. In my opinion, if young people hand their hearts and emotions over too often, they can become jaded in their view of romantic relationships. And then, when they're looking "for real", they have a harder time committing to someone for all eternity. I actually think that casual dating is the partial cause to high divorce rates. When people have been in lots of relationships, and have broken up several times before they get married, "breaking up" again is no big deal-- they've done it lots of times before.

    I'm actually soooo grateful that I didn't ever give my heart, my real love, or my kisses to anyone else before I got engaged to Russell. I have no regrets, and I will never have the awkward knowledge that I dated, loved, or kissed anyone else's husband. I hope the same for my own children. :-)

    I actually have a LOT to say on the topic of "Casual dating" before marriageable age, but I'm working on a post for that on my OFM blog. I know I'm really "out-there" in some of my opinions, but I am very sincere in my eccentricities! ;-)

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments and advice! We had a good class yesterday, and ALL the students now have a greater understanding of how my rules work. (No teenagers allowed! ;-D) Love you all!

  10. Celeste, I so enjoyed your comments! Again, Morganne and Nayna have so much in common. I am excited to see what those two amazing girls do with their lives! :-)

    What a great thing for the youth in your area! I bet they all have a great time, and don't have to worry about the pressure that comes with pairing off that young. Good for your stake! :-)

    {Miss you!}

  11. Tristan: Oo! I'll definitely have to check out that book! I've been waiting for a book like that with an LDS perspective for a LONG time! Thanks!

    Diane: Way to go! I think if we set the standards for our kids at a young age, we have less arguing or debating when they get older. :-)


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