Dating, Marriage, Sex

This week we had an interesting conversation in the office and that was to do with how girls and guys date, what’s expected and what the general norm is.

It all started out when I shared about how in our family there’s a certain way we do things:

1. No boyfriends before 18

This went down like a lead balloon. Kids are too much in a hurry to grow up. They need to enjoy some of the most challenging years of their lives without the complication of ‘going out’. We always told our girls that you don’t have to be attached at the hip of a guy to be someone.

 

2. The guy asks permission to ‘court’ our daughter

We don’t believe in the try and buy scenario of dating. A relationship with the potential new family member is really important and if they respect you enough to ask permission, then they hopefully will respect your best investment – your child.

 

3. If one of our girls are in another town or country (as what we have now) they have to be sussed out and approved by a family member.

In line with our Pacific Island upbringing, Aunty is a pretty powerful person in the family. In New Zealand we have a cousin who has ‘Aunty’ status who keeps an eye on things. In Australia we had a friend who was an ex SAS member and he (okay he was a guy but you get the drift) would ask the hard questions on our behalf, it was great. I am sure they were scared of Jeff!

 

4. As a couple who profess to the Christian faith, they are encouraged to meet with their pastors and be accountable to them.

It takes a brave couple to tell their pastors that they are going to the next level in their friendship because it gives the pastors authority to speak into their lives and they may not like what they hear.

 

5. The couple set boundaries to keep themselves out of situations they may regret.

If it really doesn’t go anywhere, they can remain friends and still look each other in the eye.

 

6. Both parties take their ‘friend’ to their families homes.

This means involved in family activities such as dinners, going out to movies, church and special events. When you marry someone, you marry into their family as well.

Of course it all has to be in context. We have always encouraged our girls to make friends both boys and girls and if they are to go out, do it in a group.

We’ve openly talked about sex since they were 9 &10 years old (they’re 22 & 23 now) – in an appropriate manner of course. Both our parents never talked about ‘the birds and the bees’ so we decided to, bringing in a Biblical viewpoint. They were homeschooled till they were around 11 & 12 and then put into a public system when we moved to Australia.

We’ve always made a point of being involved in our girls lives. Even now we take them out of dates and a good catch up time. While we never had a lot materially we made this investment. When Hannah had finished secondary school we insisted that the whole family go on a two month tour of East Africa. At first she wasn’t happy about it (insisting she wanted to work, I pointed out that she had the rest of her life to work), but it changed her world forever. Both of our girls are global travellers and have experienced many cultures, which has broadened their personal worlds.

heartHere in Kenya I’ve discovered things are quite different.

  1. The only time the family sees the new ‘friend’ is just before the engagement happens.
  2. If the parents don’t like the potential addition to the family and the girl really wants him, she has to choose between her family or his if things get really bad.
  3. When the two families meet they sit formally opposite each other. This is when the dowry is discussed. It goes through stages of friends who can vouch for you (at the serious stage), then the uncles go.
  4. Parents don’t talk to their kids about sex. That happens in school (apparently).
  5. If a girl gets pregnant out of wedlock, she will most likely be beaten badly and kicked out of home. Some parents are more supportive but the guy involved has to front up to them.
  6. If you’re not married by your late 20’s you’re over the hill.

Of course, within the Kenyan culture there are lots of ways of doing things but above is what has been a long held tradition. I have a Kenyan friend who said when she got pregnant her mother accepted her and supported her.

I have another one who is not allowed to get married to the father of her child, but they can live together, because they don’t have the money for a huge wedding (the father knows some high ranking people who HAVE to be invited). When they go to her family in the country her partner is not allowed to sleep in the same house as everyone else.

ringsEven if my girls were raised in Africa, I still would keep to how we as a family do things.

As our kids grow into adulthood they have to make their own choices and live with the consequences. As a parent all you can do is your best and support your kids in the same manner.

So:

–        Do you talk to your kids about dating, sex, relationships or leave it up to others (school, friends, social media)?

–        When was the last time you took one of your kids out on a date by themselves, just for the sake of it?

–        What values do you hold as a family?

–        What memories are you building that your kids will take into adulthood?

The Biggest Sacrifice Of All

There are many ancient religions where children were sacrificed on behalf of their parents. These include the Incas, Moabites, Phoenicians and Islamists.

Usually it was to appease a god, please them or in the hope of better crops.

Even today child sacrifice continues around the globe. ‘There are many indicators that politicians and politically connected wealthy businessmen are involved in sacrificing children which has become a commercial enterprise.’ (Wikipedia)

What made me think of this gruesome event was when our daughter stomped off to her bedroom last night yelling ‘that’s it, I’m packing my bags and getting the next flight home!”

While it may not mean a lot to the average person to us it was a huge thing. Because we had decided to move to Kenya our youngest moved out of home and then moved country to New Zealand where she hadn’t lived for 11 years. Our oldest (Liz) came with us.

Literally she had no choice. Liz is a special needs young adult and cannot live by herself. She is a high functioning Aspergers. Most people don’t even know because she is so friendly, has the best smile, cooks wonderfully and is adventurous. Liz has no worries about jumping on a plane to travel from Kenya to Australia, as long as she has her paperwork printed out and in order. If you ask her how her day was, her answer will always be ‘good’.

So for her to say what she did really hit hard.

People think it’s ‘so wonderful’ what we are doing (working in Africa) but there is a flip side to it that most don’t even think of.

Our kids sacrifice for us to be here.

There are days when you wonder if that sacrifice is really worth it. They have to give up friends, family, jobs and the convenience of the only life they’ve known. There is a huge difference between visiting somewhere and living there.

For Liz she has totally lost her friendship and support network and doesn’t have the ability to rebuild that. There are no great social services for those with a disability here. Getting to a church event during the week is a 90 minute drive each way – and that’s on a good day. Art classes are exorbitantly expensive. Volunteer positions for her are just about zero. Then, there’s the fact that she has to fly back to Australia every 3 months to keep her disability pension.

As parents we really do feel we have sacrificed our kids for this mission.

It happens around the globe time and time again. It’s an extra thing when you have a child with a disability because their future doesn’t look quite as bright as it did before.

We now have to make a decision to whether she stays here or has to return to New Zealand and see her only every few years. Right now the thought of that is too much to bear.

girls

So when you hear of people working in developing countries take a moment to think about how it impacts their family both for the good and bad. There are those working for a large NGO that cater for their housing, transport and kids schooling, then there are small development workers like us who scrape by on their friends donations. Either way, at some stage they either have to return to their home country for their children’s education or they have to say goodbye to them, unsure of when/if they will see them again.

Skype and social networks never replace a real relationship, but it sure beats the old days before they were invented.

Our kids have been blessed to be involved in humanitarian work in several countries, seen many places in the world that others only read about and have had an impact in changing communities. I believe it has changed them and made them better and bigger minded people. I don’t regret investing in them to travel, it has been worth every dollar spent.

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future” John F Kennedy

 

Why I Hate Glee

Millions worldwide are glued to their TV screens each week that Glee is on. When it first came out I thought it was a fantastic show, until the morals started sliding and anything and everything was permissible.

glee

Everyone is entitled to their opinions so I thought as a different type of blog I would express my thoughts and some of the things we can actually learn from the show.

Why I hate Glee:

1. Addiction to it by millions is an understatement

Enough said on that one. Anything young people plan their life around, they have to move their schedule for, or you can’t skype them during that time, is annoying.

 

2. It’s so unreal

Think about it, these guys never go to the toilet, look way too old to be in school, have to do jobs at home or have to do the dishes. It’s escapism to the max! Mostly though, that’s why we like to be entertained, to take us to a totally different place from our every day lives. It would be interesting to see the ratings for National Geographic compared to Glee. I wonder if Sir David Attenborough watches Glee after spending years out in the freezing cold with the penguins?

 

3. The kids rule the parents

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of boundaries put in place or repercussions for when the kids play up. It gives the kids watching the show the impression that’s how life should be. People actually believe that what they see at the movies and on TV is real. Just ask my students.

 

4. Teachers have no self control

Either they are complete Nazi’s like Sue Sylvester or a total walkover like Will Schuester or the flaky Emma Pillsbury. There doesn’t seem to be any balance in between. They’re busy dealing with manipulation, affairs or break ups. If the teaches have no self control how do they expect the kids to. What happened to teachers specialising in education to ensure a good future for our kids?

 

5. Kids have no self control

I know the show is about the kids and not their parents or lack of them, but my goodness, if every single child in the world acted like these kids, I might as well give up my job. It’s true, the average age for a young person to have their first sexual encounter is 17 (for many, much younger) and we all know how hormonal driven young people are but do we really need to relive it on the screen? With all the sexually driven advertising, pre-schoolers being sexualised and full on sex scenes in movies, do we need to hear about it all again? Why can’t we be talking about commitment, sticking in there when times are tough, give and take, relationships and strong marriages?

 

6. The writers wanted to have something for both adults and kids to watch

You must be kidding? Sure, as a parent I really want my kids watching a teenager losing his/her virginity and a whole show dedicated to it (NOT). The show is so well packaged and marketed we have to ask ourselves – what values as a family do we hold? Does what we’re watching support those values?

 

Lessons Learned

  • Parents, keep an eye on what your kids are watching
  • Talk to your kids about their choices in life, in a Biblical perspective
  • Your kids might not tell you, but they feel safe when you put in boundaries and keep them
  • Limit their TV time (when was the last time you read with them?)
  • If you’re an educator, you need to carry yourselves responsibly because young people are looking up to you

 

Why I like Glee

  1. They sound great when they sing

The actors do really well at fitting in their lines, choreography and songs that go into the show. The sound good, they look good. That is it.

Lessons Learned

  • We should learn to sing more, enjoy life more and hug our kids more

Each episode costs 3 million dollars to produce with 22 episodes per season. I leave it up to you to decide if this is the best investment of that amount of money.