“Remember to ask her parents what time they would like their daughter home and then tattoo that minute on your brain.”
Several years ago, my seventeen-year-old son and I sat at the kitchen table while he inhaled a stack of frozen waffles as if just returning home from war.
We were discussing his updated weekend plans which now included a homecoming date, finding a periwinkle tie, and assembling a Texas-sized mum that would cost no less than nine-thousand dollars and ten years of his mother’s life. I’m kidding about the nine-thousand dollars.
“What if her parents don’t care when she gets home, mom? What if she doesn’t have a curfew?” I noticed he was wiping syrup from his chin with his tee-shirt. “You know I’m the only person in school who still has to be home by midnight right?”
I held out a napkin. “Honey, we (er, your dad) always wait up for you and I expect her parents do the same. Midnight is reasonable and respectful of all parties involved. Sure, there might be times when we might make an exception, but this Saturday will not be one of them.”
[Long pause] “Are there any more waffles?”
If you have teens in the house, how are you helping the people God gave you to navigate the current dating landscape? And how can we, as the God-given parents, establish reasonable boundaries that are drawn with wisdom and not fear?
I’m not entirely sure. Any wisdom I have in this area has been forged primarily by epic parenting fails (I’ll write of those soon for any who care). But since prom season waits for no man, here are some practical tips I like to re-visit with each prom-bound son in preparation for the big night.
[THE ARRIVAL] Drive up her driveway very slowly and very quietly. I’m talking grandma speed and library quiet. Don’t even dream of honking the horn and waiting for her in the driveway.
[THE PARKING] Park carefully and strategically, because at some point you will actually need to leave, and trust me, negotiating a twenty-two point turn in front of your date’s parents is nerve-wracking for all.
PS. Even worse, inadvertently backing over a prized rose garden while your date’s mother watches and weeps at the window will truly hamper an otherwise pleasant evening.
[THE FAMILY] Shake hands and look everyone in the eye. Greet your date’s mother especially kindly, and perhaps compliment the rose garden you noticed while parking ever-so-carefully on the other side of the driveway.
Ignore the persistent bat-signals of your date at this point. She really is so stunning – jaw-dropping! – in her strapless periwinkle dress, but don’t be tempted by her not-so-subtle hints to cut and run!
If asked a question please be sure to have something interesting to say in response. If anything, be so chatty that the parents must politely usher you towards the door – they weren’t expecting a summit after all.
Ask your date’s parents what time they would like their daughter home. If she doesn’t have a curfew then let them know that she’ll be home before midnight.
PS. Be prepared for an extended bear-hug from both parents at this point. They can’t believe they will actually be able to get in bed by midnight – what unexpected luck!
[THE EXIT] Walk your companion to the car and tell her she looks especially beautiful. Not “hot”. Open her door and close it [gently, gently] after checking that all clothing, elbows, and accessories are safely tucked inside.
PS. A trip back into the house for any form of first-aid or wardrobe malfunction would be very unfortunate at this point.
[THE MAIN THING] But above all, the most important thing to remember, son, even if all else goes sideways, is this: From beginning to end, treat your beautiful date in a manner that honors her whole (holy) body, mind, and soul.
Show such high regard for her entire person that when you take her home at the end of the evening she is better for having spent time with you.
Shalom to you today, for we are God’s own children whom he loves and keeps.
So whether we are young or old, parent or child, son or daughter, may we endeavor to treat one another in an honorable manner, holding a high and holy regard for each one, always leaving the other person better at the finish than how we found them at the start.
PS. Have fun, remember your napkin, and see you at midnight!