Today, I went to the gym to run on the treadmill. I got pretty soaked yesterday running outside and I didn’t want a repeat performance. Once inside the gym, I ran into an old acquaintance from kettlebells class. She got her hair cut and we chatted about that. She has two girls about my son Zac’s age.
“Is Zac going to the Winter Ball?” she asked.
It’s this weekend, in case you’re wondering. She was curious, since her girls were going. They had gone dress shopping and the whole deal.
I said, “Well…”
She started laughing. She talked to another classmate’s mom who also had a boy and she said the same thing. The boys just aren’t ready for that kind of gig. They’re emotional eons behind the girls, who are ready to date and have boyfriends and go out. My friend said she told her girls no boyfriends, which is what we told Zac. Only for him it was no girlfriends. Our point of view is: do you have money? Do you have a job? Are you looking to get married? (Also: Can you drive?) No? Then you don’t need a girlfriend. Period. At least at this juncture, that’s our stance on the matter. It helps greatly that Zac is uninterested in girls at this time.
Her girls were going to the ball as part of a group. And I thought, Why? Isn’t the idea of this whole charade so girls and boys can “date” in a public, safe setting? I don’t think I would have gone to a dance to get dressed up and be seen by other girls. Who cares? Let’s have a slumber party instead! That would definitely be cheaper.
We talked a bit more and I thought about the whole boy-girl issue. Soon enough, Zac will be grown. But our kids, especially girls, are bombarded with hook-up messages from the very earliest fairy tale. You’re the princess and your prince will rescue you! You need to look good to snag a man! Dress well (meaning: latest fads), wear makeup, lose weight. And on and on.
I remember as a teen wanting desperately to go out, to have somebody think I was attractive enough to date. The books and movies aimed at tweens and teens push this as the ideal, even way back then. It becomes a basis for a girl’s self-worth. Look at any women’s magazine – not Ladies’ Home Journal – and see the ruse continue. “Get his attention” “How to dress 10 lbs. slimmer”. Of course they also discuss other, more intimate way to “make a man happy”. Eek!
I balk at this. I think in the context of marriage, yes, you need to put your husband first, and vice versa. Think of ways to honor him. Dress well, lose the weight, wear makeup. Men are visual, and your taking care of yourself makes him happy. And of course s-e-x is part of that as well.
Now, as the mother of a teenage boy, I would say boys at this age as a whole are not ready for the things that teen girls long for – to be cherished, security, kindness and affection. Sure, they *look* normal enough. Yet, they’re playing Minecraft for hours online. They’re trying to dodge showering on a daily basis. They’re stuffing themselves with pizza. They aren’t emotionally ready to meet girls and genuinely appreciate them. The good news is that the genders do eventually catch up to each other in maturity.
I do know that no decent guy worth “snagging” wants a Stepford Wife. Real men like women who are fully themselves, not looking to be something someone else needs. I’m trying to ensure both my kids become their best, unique selves, not who the world thinks they ought to be. The Bible says, “And the two shall become one flesh”, not “One half plus another half made a whole”. And since we’re all made in the image of God, shouldn’t that be our gold standard? What does He have to say about us? What would He have us pursue, to become, to model ourselves after? Matthew 6:33 says: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.