Special Relationships, Ready or Not

For those of you who think television is the root of all evil, you’ll find this post uninteresting and perhaps a bit beneath you, so God bless, and I’ll catch you some other time.   I’m of the “watch responsibly” genre, so I keep the two TVs we have in very visible places and much of what we watch, we view as a family.  Of course like many, we could cut down our television hours, but that’s a post for another time.

 

My son and I have been enjoying the “Star Wars” series together as HBO has run different movies in the series almost every evening this month.   I’m a big fan of the imagination that went into putting together all those characters and lands, not to mention a fairly interesting storyline.  My son is more familiar with the latest, but actually the earliest, stories in the series, where Anakin Skywalker grows into an adult lured by power to join the “dark side.”   We’ve had great times as I catch him up on the older, but actually the latter, movies, which tell the end of a great saga.

 

There is something else I’ve noticed about television, particularly programming geared toward big kids, i.e. preteens.   So that you know where I’m coming from, our oldest is about this age and very naïve and immature when it comes to boys, although increasingly curious about womanhood.   It’s interesting to see her giggle when we caution her about boys given the questions she asks.   I’m sure one day when it hits her what she’s asked in total innocence, she’ll fall out from embarrassment.   Many of her church friends are, sadly enough, already farther down the road with this, oogling over the “cute boys” and sharing what celebrity is worthy of this week’s crush.   In the meantime, I’m rather happy that she has little interest in boys, and I’m in no rush for her or any of our kids to grow to the next level.

 

So, what’s got my dander up?  The predominance of “special relationships,” which I presume is a politically correct term for what we called a boyfriend or girlfriend when I was that age.   What’s more astounding is that I see adults pushing this!   Candidly, my husband and I are at different places with the whole dating issue, and our perspectives have everything to do with our own experiences in “special relationships” of our junior high and high school days.  So, I can appreciate and pray often about our own anxieties, but I ponder why writers, and adults in general, are so preoccupied with throwing kids into one-on-one relationships, ready or not.   Is the ability of our offspring to get attention from the opposite sex some reflection of our success as parents?    Are we that anxious about our children’s self esteem (and if so, couldn’t we find a different means to maintain it)?   Are we afraid that if we don’t push our kids off on the opposite sex that they may turn to the same sex?   It seems so ironic that adults shake their heads at what’s happening with today’s teenagers, but then almost force kids into couple-like roles.  

 

I hit the height of my frustration as we watched a Discovery Channel program for kids, which focused on animal life—read nothing to do with girls and boys as teenagers–but yet an adult ‘couldn’t help but notice the special relationships that are developing between _____ and _____…’    I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so I resisted the urge to change the channel.   Even the kids questioned why the adult made special mention of the whole potential dating scenario that existed while the kids interacted with the animals.   It sounded ridiculous, even to them.  Rather than dwell in my self-righteous indignation, I chose to use this as a teachable moment.   We talked about how it’s okay to not have a special relationship.   It’s okay to enjoy people for who they are without the pressure to do more.   We talked about what those pressures look like, where they stem from (spiritually and physically), and how to deal with them.  I’m glad I didn’t just get up and walk away from the television.  Instead I brought the Gospel to where many kids live and breathe, the same kids that our kids interact with weekly, if not daily.   I’m looking forward to the chance to do it again.

 

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