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Monday, September 17, 2012

When Parents Push the Relationship

Dear Bro Jo,

My name is (withheld) and I'm a senior in high school.

I've adhered to the standard for dating pretty well.

I've gone on dates with different guys in groups- for the most part, and if not, totally in public the entire time. However, I do have a "favorite" so to speak. Let's call him "D." D and I have been going on dates since I turned 16, about a year and a half ago. He's a year older than me and it always seemed to work out.

We've dated others and kept it pretty infrequent (maybe every month or two) but we keep coming back to each other. He's the son of a family friend and that hasn't been a problem for the most part, quite the opposite actually. Our parents always know what we're doing and know that who we are dating is a good Priesthood Holder/ Priesthood Upholder.

(Side note: he's going to college about 2 hours away for the year before he goes on his mission.)

However, recently when we've been together at gatherings (i.e., his graduation last week), we've been fielding questions and comments of the future- marital variety. Stuff like: "I really would love to have her as a daughter-in-law!" from his mother or "Come on! Help me set up! Show off your domestic skills to D!" from mine. As well as little reminders to practice writing letters and sending care packages from his sister. (That's just my end, he says he's gotten similar, just on a husbandly scale.)

It's starting to bother both of us.

Now, don't get me wrong: As I said, we are kind of each other’s "favorites," and I'm sure that one day, far, far in the future, when I'm older, more mature, have my teaching degree and he is off his mission it could work out. We've had the feared "Waiting" talk and decided that I'm not going to become the Institute Nun, but I'm not going to get too serious with someone until he comes back and we have a chance to test it out as adults.

So, I guess my question is this: How should we deal with our parents and the other adults in this circle of friends? They know about his plans and our decisions, yet they continue to try to push us together. They also know that we are not exclusively dating, nor in a "committed relationship." Should we tell them to leave us alone, or just let it by?

Sorry if this is a lot of information in a less than organized jumble with a lot of parenthesis...

Thanks for your help,

- Name withheld

Dear NW,

Sister Jo and I occasionally talk (amongst ourselves) about whom we think might be good matches for the Jo Kids, although usually rather than mention specific names we'll say "I hope he finds a girl like her", or "this guy is going to turn out to be the type of man that parents hope their daughter marries".

As a parent you want your children to be happy, and as an LDS parent you're even more aware of how important both the short term and long term (think "eternal") happiness of your child will be tied to selecting a great spouse.

For reasons neither Sister Jo nor I can understand, some (too many, actually) LDS parents take this understandable feeling Way Too Far. They set up their kids, they pressure their kids . . . they go against the advice of Church Leadership, looking the other way when it comes to "relationships" and pre-16-year old dating if a favored boy or girl is involved. It's phenomenally naive.

We know one mother in particular that called the parents of her son's ex-girlfriend and begged them to push her to take her son back! (Can you imagine?!?) And they were in High School!

Crazy stuff.

We know another boy who's girlfriend's mom was so crazy with the marriage talk (he was 18 and the girl only 16) that he eventually stopped calling the girl altogether. ("I like her" he said, "but her mom is pushing too hard too soon. I'm focused on a mission, not marriage!")

Some parents think they're being cute.

Some are trying to relive their glory days through their children.

Some are just meddlesome by nature.

Some are truly trying to be helpful, but are woefully misguided.

Some (and this maybe needs to be read as "most") are just plain idiots.

What you do about it depends on your relationship with your parents and the kind of person you are.

As I see it, either you talk to them and ask them to back off, or you ignore them.

I'm the kind of person who would rather have the talk. With both sets of offending parents.

"I'm only 16 and all this talk of marriage is freaking me out. You're pushing too hard. It's not cute, it's not endearing, it's not helping, and every time you make a comment along those lines it makes me resent you a little. And as far as any possible long term relationship goes, you're making things worse, not better. I love you, and I'm asking you to please stop."

Then let's pray that they'll put your wishes ahead of their own.

Good luck, and don't back down!

Be Respectful, but Be Clear.

- Bro Jo

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