We’re talking about relationships at PowerLife tomorrow night (friendships in particular, from the looks of the curriculum, but I’ve already gone ahead and asked a panel of married/engaged adults to serve as a panel) and I’ve been spending this afternoon reading about middle school dating (courtesy of a couple google searches) and wishing I could do that outside.
What’s sad is that most of the hits besides parenting websites (which I am finding to be somewhat useful) are “ask” sites where middle school students ask questions to the void about the boy or girl they really like and if it’s okay to date him or her and what that means and how to deal with break-ups, etc. The open nature of the Internet allows other kids to reply, and I am shaking my head in disbelief at the advice that’s been handed down by “sage” wisdom from the 8th grade (or high school). What sorts of examples these answerers have had to draw such sad conclusions, I can’t imagine.
Perhaps the most disappointing find was an adult’s query about her 13 year old daughter and her friend’s 14 year old son who had dated for a year and ended the relationship suddenly. She wrote as though she had expected the relationship to last forever (along the lines of “how do we get them back together”). Really? I’m torn between being glad she is involved in her daughter’s life enough to talk about the relationship, but isn’t that much involvement a bit too extreme? Can we consider that the purpose of middle school dating isn’t even the same as high school, which isn’t necessarily even the same as college and beyond?
I applaud the encouragement of healthy relationships that some of the parenting articles suggest; not really awkward 1-on-1 romantic dates but sort of task or goal oriented outings…perhaps going to a science museum as a family and sending the kiddos on a mission by themselves to get them talking…or invitations to family gatherings, or group hanging out.
When Jesus was 12, he was spending his extra time at the Synagogue (okay, that might have just been the one instance during Passover when his parents couldn’t find him…but I suspect his relationship with God was persistently a priority)…so when we ask the telltale “What Would Jesus Do” in respect to middle school dating, what can we conclude? I hope to emphasize God-honoring relationships of all kinds (especially friendships–middle school can be a critical friend-circle decision time). It’s hard for me to visualize Jesus as a 12 year old. This is a representation I found in a church I went to for day camp last summer (no hard feelings if you drew it or really admire it…it’s just so feminine and Caucasian…)
I’m going to circle yes for the question: Do I need a carwash? Might go take care of that now. 🙂