Wednesday, July 3, 2013

{Parenting in Real Time} - "Dating Rules" Part I, Mom's Point of View

Earlier this week, I wrote this blog.  Honestly, my intention was just to tell a funny story.  The blog, however, generated quite a few emails asking questions about our "dating rules".

Billy and I are often asked about our "rules".

What are our rules concerning cell phones?  What are our rules concerning curfews? What are our rules concerning chores?  And very frequently, what are our rules concerning dating?

Truth be told, you'd all be surprised to find out just how little RULES we use to operate our family of 7.  

With 5 kids, and a business to run, we are busy, busy, busy.  REMEMBERING rules is a problem for us (nearly impossible -- even when we write them down).  Besides, Billy is a rule breaker by nature, so really, what's the point?

In general...

What are our rules concerning cell phones?  Yes/No/Sometimes -- Live in the light.

What are our rules concerning curfews?  Be where you are, doing what you say you're doing.  Be safe and live in the light.

What are our rules concerning chores?  Clean your own mess, help when asked, when you see something that needs to be done -- take initiative and do it.

What are our rules concerning dating?  Well, it depends.  Live in the light.  Restraint before release.  Drama's not necessary.  Yes/No/Sometimes.

We like to keep our children guessing.

We are pro-relationships.  We want our children to live in the world, enjoying relationships with a variety of people. I am OFTEN heard telling them, "Breathe deeply.  Enjoy your relationships."  

But that's not what you rule keepers want to know.

So, without further a do, here are 13 standards we like to talk about in the RamFam home as it relates to dating...presented just like I say them to my kids.  This list is in no way shape or form comprehensive.  We always reserve the right to grow in wisdom as parents, to say "no" and in general to think up new ways to embarrass our teenagers.

Next week, Billy will share from his point of view.  Who knows, maybe the RamFam kids will chime in too.   

1.  You attract who you are.  Healthy attracts healthy.  Unhealthy attracts unhealthy.  Mr. Right is generally not attracted to Miss Wrong (and vice versa).  BE THE RIGHT PERSON.

2.  Dating in High school is pretty pointless.  Since you attract who you are, you are better off spending your high school years BECOMING THE RIGHT PERSON.  Being involved in your faith community, serving others, working hard, taking school seriously, being active and healthy, working a job, mentoring a sibling, learning new things, going on new adventures -- THESE are worthy pursuits for your time.

*  For New Lifers, David Perkins preaches a sermon about "tithing" your teen years in order to enter your 20's healthy, strong and ready for whatever comes next.  It's good.  Listen to it.

3.  Learning to be "just friends" is important.  Should you marry, you will become "just friends" with every other person on the planet.  Great marriages happen between two people who were first great friends.  Develop the skill now. 

4.  Live in the light -- no secrets.  Your parents are reasonable.  Share your journey, thoughts and heart with us.  Don't make us have to read your diary.  We're all in this together so to speak.  We want to know your friends.  We will be sending them a Facebook request.

5.  Allow space in your life for wisdom.  You will not live without mistake or regret.  Hindsight is perfect for everyone.  But if you open your heart to wisdom at the beginning of your process (the Holy Spirit, the Bible, books, us, leaders, well chosen friends), you will be happier in the long run.  Lessen regret.

6.  You can trust our heart towards you.  We are not perfect, but our heart (our intentions towards you) are as perfect as it gets.  If we say "NO" to a particular person, it is because we love you and see danger you do not.  We ask you to allow us to protect you at this time.  You can choose to go your own way, but it will not end in a way that brings you happiness.  Learn from your mistakes.

7.  Protect your body.  People now a days have cooties.  Cooties that kill.    

8.  Protect your words.  EVERY relationship does not have to be serious.  Hold back on words that denote commitment to one person until you are sure this is where you want to go. "I Love You" should be held back for serious relationships that have the potential to end in marriage.  Our emotions tend to go the way of our words, so when in doubt, wait.

9.  Protect your heart (your mind).  This is a hard thing.  You will have to FIGHT to stay pure in this area your whole life.  We all do.

10.  Restraint before release.  Learn to say NO to yourself in a variety of areas for a time.  There are MANY applications for this in adult life.  It's a skill, work on it.

11. Keep drama to a minimum.  When you no longer wish to spend this kind of time with a person, let them know in an honest way.  Quickly.

12.  Marrying the wrong person, can have SERIOUS implications in your life.  As you mature and approach the season for marriage, you should begin to give careful thought to this.  If at all possible, you want to get it right the first time.  

13.  Should things go wrong, remember, we can't be a perfect family.  We know that we do not have perfect children and you know you do not have perfect parents.  However, we are a forgiving family.  You are always loved.  Always wanted.  We are always on your side.  No matter what.

Much love,


  1. Shanna . . . I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!! Wish this had been written and presented to me about 30 years ago . . . thank you for posting!!!

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  3. "People now a days have cooties. Cooties that kill." Well said. I have a family of 7 as well. I am not looking forward to those days. I am excited to see what God has in store for my children.