“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
Yes, you read the title of this post correctly. You are probably thinking it is ridiculous to think in those terms. You're wrong. I began thinking and praying about my daughter's future husband when she was very young. Several weeks ago, Paul Songer IV asked me for my blessing to ask my daughter for her hand in marriage. Yesterday he asked her to marry him...she said yes.
I have been preparing her for this day for years. When she was a baby I would occasionally think about how some day some guy was going to come along and her heart was going to turn away from her daddy and toward some guy who would marry her. It's hard not to think in terms of him taring her away from me, but that is not really what is happening. I am stepping away from the role I once had and, in some sense, giving that to him. However, her mother and I have been preparing her for this her entire life.
When she was little, her mother and I just did our best to teach her how to be a Godly woman. Our hope was that Godly woman would attract a Godly man. I believe that has happened. She witnessed two imperfect married people work through the pain life brings and live joyous lives focused on serving God. This was instrumental to her preparation as she witnessed us have disagreements, work through anger, and so on. It's more than just modeling a loving relationship between her parents, we taught her about marriage both by modeling and by having certain important conversations along the way.
The first dating conversationI remember took place when she was 11 years old, 6 years before she would go on her first date. She was in 5th grade. The conversation went something like this:
Catrina: Daddy, some of my friends have boyfriends, do you think I could have a boyfriend too?
Daddy: Catrina, what do you think the point of having a boyfriend is?
Catrina: I don't know.
Daddy: The reason people date or have boyfriends is to figure out who they are going to marry. How old do you think you should be before you get married?
Catrina: You told me I couldn't get married until I was 30!
Daddy: Well, I was joking...I think...you could probably get married sooner than that, how about 25, does that sound okay?
Catrina: I suppose.
Daddy: Well, how long do you think you should date someone before you get engaged?
Catrina: I don't know.
Daddy: Well, a year would probably be a good minimum, but let's say 2 years.
Daddy: How long do you think you should be engaged for?
Catrina: A year?
Daddy: A year is okay, but I think shorter engagements are better, let's say 6 months.
Daddy: So if you are going to date for two years and have a 6 month engagement and get married at the age of 25 what age would that make you when you start dating that person?
Catrina: I don't know daddy
Daddy: That would make you around 22 years old.
Catrina: So I can start dating when I'm 22?
Daddy: Well, you might not find the guy you are going to marry with the first guy you start dating. You might date a few or several guys before you find one you want to marry. So, let's say this, you probably don't need to really think about dating until college, or at least high school.
Catrina: Okay, thanks daddy.
You might find that conversation humorous, I did. Nevertheless, we always taught our daughter that the reason you date isn't to have fun or mess around, it is to find out whether a person is worthy of being your spouse.
We had numerous other conversations along the way. We talked about the most important things about a person who wants be your husband. We talked about what appropriate physical boundaries were. We talked about why it is important for a boy to show respect to our family and to have the courage to come talk to me in order to date her. We talked about finding someone who you are willing to have lead you. We talked about all kinds of things. We did the occasional daddy daughter date, even when she didn't want to.
we spoke truth to her about her boyfriends and never hid what we saw in them, but always did so with love, respect, and gentleness (to the extent that I am able to be gentle).
I worked hard to lead her well so that she would expect her future husband to lead her well. I wanted her to know good leadership when she saw it. I also wanted her to know what bad leadership looked like so she could reject it quickly. I am sure I was far from perfect, but I'd like to think that I contributed something in the process.
The results? Well, I don't know with absolute certainty, but I'm very optimistic. She is now engaged to a man who was her second boyfriend. They will get married and then they will have to work hard to make it a healthy and loving marriage. That said, she was able to recognize the fakers, the wanna bees, and those that were not marriage material from a mile away. She found a man who had the guts to sit across from me and have some very candid conversations about dating my daughter, his intention to marry her, his history with dating, and so on. Well done Paul!
It all started when she was very young. We raise our children to be Godly adults not intemperate children.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.