what courtship-advocating parents don’t understand.

Disclaimer: I love my parents.  I love my friends’ parents.  This isn’t about anybody’s parents in particular.  This is just something I’ve been thinking about, with no particular set of parents in mind.  AND this isn’t meant to offend anyone.  This is for you, my readers – to encourage you and to let you know that you’re not alone.  Anyways.  Onward.

(Disclaimer #2, or In Which I Realize I Should’ve Talked To My Parents Before Posting This…. See the end of this post.)

Courtship.

Depending on how you grew up and what you were taught, that word can either send shoots of awkward pain through your body or make you feel all warm and tingly.  The same can be said for the word…

Dating.

(Half of you just hissed and scurried back to the shadows, I just know it.  XD)

I’ve talked about how I grew up before a little (especially my thoughts on purity rings), but if you don’t know, I was raised with the courtship mindset.  (And, before you freak out and unfollow, I’m still holding to some of those beliefs, though not all of them.)

To twelve-year-old me, courtship meant finding That Special Someone (or, rather, him finding me), getting to know him and his family better, him asking my dad for approval of our relationship, and us moving forward with a deeper relationship.  To be honest, that’s still basically what I’m hoping for, but some aspects look a little different.

As I’ve grown up, though, I’ve realized that it isn’t that easy – not by a long shot.

Although never explicitly said, it feels like our parents and the books we read and the Bible studies we did implied that if we courted (and saved ourselves and all that), then a great guy would find us and we’d be happily married and ride off into the sunset.

As some of my friends and I have discovered, the courtship mindset isn’t a formula.  It’s not waiting + courtship = relationship + marriage before 22.  Agreeing to save ourselves and wait and court and all that jazz does not guarantee marriage.

In fact, it seems far from it.

Growing up with a courtship mindset kind of skewed my mind a little… and it did the same for my sisters, too.  I realized the other day that I’d always assumed I’d have to court a few guys before I “got it right” – essentially that I’d make a ton of mistakes before finally meeting “the one.”  For my sisters, one grew up so scared of making mistakes, and the other was at the verge of throwing caution to the wind.

(I’m feeling a pull to go off into a “Since when did pursuing more than one guy before landing on the right one become a bad thing???” tangent, but I’d better not.  That’s another blog post for another time.  XD)

One of the worst parts about growing up with this mindset, though, is being a girl in this sub-society where girls have to wait for the guy to approach them – or, in extreme situations, to approach her dad before she even hears of his interest.

What’s even worse (and here we finally come to the reason for this post) is that sometimes – sometimes – our parents don’t understand.

Obviously, if your parents courted, they know how you feel, and this post isn’t really for you.  But if you’re a first-generationer like I was (and still am – gosh, I’ve got to get that figured out)… it’s hard.

“Wow, you’re really bashing my parents, aren’t you?” you say.

No, I’m not.  (At least, I’m trying not to.)

I’m just trying to say that these parents who strongly encourage their kids to court all their lives really don’t understand how hard it is.

How hard it is to be in your twenties and never been on a date.

How hard it is to be this age and never know that a guy has ever been interested in you.

How hard it is to look on the past twenty-plus years and wonder if that’s what the next twenty will be like – with an absence of romance and a multitude of worrying.

I once tried to explain this feeling to my mom.  My sister got it, but my mom didn’t. “You’re saving yourself!” Mom said.  “You’re going to have the best marriage.”

It took everything in me to not say, “Yes, I know – you keep telling me that.  But you started dating at fifteen, and I’m almost twenty-two and I’ve never been on a date, so it’s looking pretty bleak!”

I’ve since gotten a lot more content in my state of singleness, but it’s still hard sometimes.  (Especially now, when families are starting to get together for the holidays and everybody’s asking about your love life cAN I GET AN AMEN?!)

HOWEVER.  I’m not going to throw away the last ten years of waiting just because it’s getting hard.  Because that would be stupid and negate all the time I’ve waited.

I’m not telling you to rage against your parents and renounce everything they’ve ever taught you.  I’m just telling you… I get it.   If you feel this way, you’re not alone.  Your thoughts are valid.  Just because some people don’t get it doesn’t mean that nobody does.

Our parents are wonderful people, and they may understand more about the world than we ever will.  But if they dated and you’re not planning on it… this is one thing they don’t really get. And that’s okay.

“I get it,” you’re saying (hopefully).  “I’m not mad at my parents for not understanding this, but I’m still confused about what I do from here.”

I’m confused, too.  The only thing I’d recommend doing is the only thing I’ve found that works – to just accept it and wait.  Pray for understanding for them and peace for yourself. You’re not a terrible person for thinking that they don’t get it (and you’re definitely not unlovable just because you’ve chosen to wait).

I’m not going to say that you’ll find love, because I can’t guarantee that.  I’m also not going to say that your parents will understand in time, because I can’t guarantee that either.

However, I will say that we’re blessed with a God who does understand and that, as His children, we’re given the freedom to approach Him with confidence, knowing that He cares for us.

Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  (I Peter 5:7)

What are your thoughts?  Have you decided to court or date?  Where do your parents stand? Let me know in the comments!

ADDENDUM: Waiting is hard.  I’m not trying to blame my parents for how hard waiting is, and I’m not trying to blame the courtship system.  And just because it’s hard does not mean that I’m going to throw away the last ten years of protecting my heart.  I’m not going to go get pregnant just because I’m tired of waiting.  There are some days where I’m done with waiting, but that’s not the majority.  I went to Charleston two weekends ago with two single friends, and we had a blast.  We even talked about how great it was that we were all single and didn’t have to clear it with our significant others.

I know that waiting is hard, guys.  But I think it’ll be worth it.  And waiting is a decision I made when I was like eleven, and I’m sticking to it, no matter how hard it gets.

(Also, if you don’t think your parents understand what you’re going through, talk to them.  It’s something I should’ve done before I posted this, and I’m sorry for representing them poorly by posting this without talking to them about it first.  I love them very much.)

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15 thoughts on “what courtship-advocating parents don’t understand.

  1. Pingback: year in review: 2016. | inklings press

  2. Hm, well courting isn’t “a thing” in my church, but basically how dating works for us is that we don’t date until at least age sixteen, and even then it’s group dates, not “boyfriend-girlfriend” dating, until you’re actually old enough that you could get married. Which usually means after you’ve graduated from high school (and then it’s not like YOU’RE EIGHTEEN NOW! READY, SET, GET MARRIED! You keep going on some group dates as well as starting to go on dates with one person at a time, and meeting lots of different people by going on multiple one-on-one dates. I guess I kind of get how courtship advocates would say “meeting lots of people” sounds like a bad idea, but the way I see it, [CASUALLY! important note here :)] dating and getting to know multiple people allows you to “guard your heart” better than waiting for The One. Because if you’re looking at every date as OH MY HEAVENS THIS COULD BE MY FUTURE HUSBAND, it’s going to be really hard to get to know him as a person, and you’re getting super emotionally involved with someone you don’t even know well yet. Phylicia has a post I like about that. I think it was called, “Dear Girl, It’s Just a Date”.)
    That was a very long parenthetical! Haha. But anyway, the idea is that you learn how to interact with the opposite sex in a dating scenario when you’re sixteen, but there’s not pressure to be in a serious relationship that would be harmful at that age. And that way when you ARE finally ready to date just one person, and you realize you want to be committed to them, you’re actually old enough and mature enough to make that commitment by getting married . . . unlike if you were to pair off with just one person in high school, where if you are in a relationship with someone you really care about, you’d eventually be forced to make the choice between breaking things off with the person to keep things from getting too serious (which would be hard to do) and compromising or ignoring your values (way worse).
    I hope all of that made sense! It was interesting to read your thoughts about it and to understand that perspective more. ❤️😊

    • I like that! (And I’ve read and LOVE that post – and Phylicia’s blog!) I interact with a lot of guys as it is, though, and although I have several guy friends, I wouldn’t say I’ve “dated” any of them. We do group stuff together. Personally, I’d love to save dating (one-on-one) for when I have a guy who is more likely to be my husband. I won’t go all “OMG THIS COULD BE MY FUTURE MAN!!!” on him, but I also won’t go one-on-one ’til it’s more likely. Just my thoughts. 🙂 My family and I have strayed a lot from the more serious courting thing (my sister now has a long-distance boyfriend that she visits regularly without chaperones *gasp*), but I still don’t want to date casually. Intentional dating is what I keep coming back to. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts – and reading my post!!!

  3. Agghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . I feel you on a lot of this stuff 🙂 I have Many Many Thoughts, but I don’t know if I can put them all down here . . . Say, would you mind if I emailed you sometime to chat about this? Because it seems to me like you and I are in *extremely* similar positions in a lot of ways *cough* 🙂

  4. Hey Ashley, I read this and I was wondering, what are YOUR thoughts on dating? For myself, I have no problem with it and neither does my religion, so I was curious to get another point of view … 🙂

    • Great question! *cracks knuckles* I personally have nothing against it. I used to, but my views have since relaxed a lot. I think some things people DO on dates is wrong (depends on the person, but kissing and beyond isn’t for me), but dating itself isn’t a bad thing at all. I’m planning on intentionally dating – meaning, only dating guys I could see myself pursuing a serious relationship with. There’s a guy I’d 100% go out with right now, but I’m waiting for him to get a clue that I like him. 😉

      I grew up with the courtship mindset, so that’s why a lot of my posts revolve around it. My future love life may look like courtship to some people (approval/advice of parents, not “casually dating around,” etc), but I’d call it dating.

      Thanks for asking! What’s your religion?

      • Ah, I understand … I think it’s great that you are thinking about these things. 🙂

        Oh, and my religion is Catholic. In fact, I’m “jessica prescott”‘s sister!

        • I think everybody should – no sense in believing anything if it’s not your own convictions! 🙂

          Oh, okay! Cool! My mom was Catholic before she married my dad, and that side of the family still is. 🙂

  5. Well said, Gurl!!! You did a great job communicating your thoughts. *round of applause*
    I’ll join you in that first generation group. I’m also the oldest, so yay to being one of the first to walk this path whenever it comes.
    Yes, being single does make travel and spontaneous thins MUCH easier ! 😉

  6. This was so well said. You remained respectful and understanding to both sides and… well done. *claps*

    My parents dated when they were very young (at least, my mum did cuz she was engaged at 19 ;-P) and I can’t see myself casual-dating while I’m in my teens (although the word ‘courtship’ isn’t a thing in our household :-P) so I can relate. And this post was very soothing to read. Thanks, girl.

    And don’t worry too much about being single (and I don’t think you do) – You’re only single once and you’d better enjoy it. 🙂

    ~ Naomi

    • Thanks! 🙂

      I’m not into casual dating, either. While I’d love to date, I’m not going to throw away the last ten years of waiting just because I’m tired of it. Intentional dating will be in my future. I’m very glad! 🙂

      Haha, I’m not. I’m very content with where I am right now and what I’m able to do in these single years. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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