Friday, August 1, 2008

On Dating and Children

I am loving this weekly writing memes as much as I love photo memes. Writing gives me a great opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings on the subject being discussed and what's more, it improves my writing skills, too!

This is my first time joining Mitch's When SAHM-one Speaks weekly meme. This is a great opportunity for me to share my experiences on the subject matter because I can definitely relate to it.

Would you allow your child to go out on a date at an early age (as early as 16)? What do you think you’d feel about it if one day your child would ask you "Ma, can I got out on Friday night with…..?"

As a kid, I was told that dating was bad for me. My father would keep on repeating these awful words to me: "Ganahan ka maninda ug mani sa dalan?" (Would you want to sell peanuts on the sidewalk?). He kept on telling me this because he equated dating with not finishing college. Back then, I always thought that dating would lead to me selling peanuts and, picturing the little girls selling peanuts on the streets, their clothes dirty, I swore to myself that I wouldn't date. That was when I was 10.

When I reached my teens, I developed my first crush. It was nothing too fancy, just a little puppy love, throwing googly eyes at each other across the classroom, being teased about being a "couple," that sort of thing. It was quite harmless and I remember those years with a smile.

It was not until I had my first serious relationship when I reached college that my parents went on a dating strike. You see, someone who I thought I could trust ratted me out to my father hoping to get brownie points from him! What's more, they found out the person who I was currently dating. To their shock, they discovered that I was dating a guy 9 years my senior! I was forbidden to communicate with him, much less see him! A few days after they found out about him, stories started flying here and there, owing to the fact that Dumaguete is such a small city, not to mention that his house was just a block away (plus, his family and mine where sort of connected, in a way).

What angered them was that this guy had a pretty "colorful" past. They yelled at me and berated me for going out with him, even telling me to: "paniwang haron naa'y laing maibog nimo!" (Lose weight so someone else would find you attractive). So much for their vote of confidence! It really hurt a lot especially coming from my folks. They were supposed to protect me, not insult me and make me feel small!

It was an "us against the world" mode for almost a year. We secretly went out together and called each other late at night. The sneaking around was what got to them and my father decided that if I was really serious with the guy, then I should bring him over again (he had already been introduced to them when they found out about us).

My BF agreed. He had braved their harsh words to him before so what else could happen? His first official visit as my BF ended with both of us taking my puppy Shine for a walk because he was too nervous to be stuck at home. He won my puppy's heart that night, and to this day, she loves him more that me, the traitor!

All it took was a taste of my BF's Balbacua for my father to come around and accept him. Now, four years later, that guy became my hubby. I didn't become pregnant. I graduated college. He is a whole new person.

Would I allow my child to go on a date? Definitely. Of course, that "definitely" means that there are rules that she or he and their date must follow. These rules must be outlined clearly not only to my children but to their dates as well. It is very important to give your child a modicum of trust. It should be explicitly clear that violations of these rules would spell trouble for everyone involved and that modicum of trust would go down the drain. Based on my experiences, it is not a guarantee that denying them the opportunity to date would mean that they would not date at all!

Dating is a whole new world for teens, and is also a part of their developmental tasks. According to the great Erik Erikson, teens go through a phase called Identity vs. Role Confusion. In this phase, a teen must be allowed to explore for him/her to discover his/her own identity. Being pushed and/or restricted by their parents would not allow them to discover their selves. Unfortunately, our Philippine culture discourages this because we were always led to believe that our parents' words are law, even though they are not always right. Deciding for their children would mean disastrous for the child's personal growth. Although they mean well, they are unconsciously denying their children a chance to grow.

When SAHM-one Speaks is a weekly Friday meme hosted by Mitch.
To join, simply hop over to When SAHM-one Speaks Mom's, Join Me.

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