Top 5 Posts in 2012

Where did the year go???!!! It's a blur.

I thought you might enjoy knowing the 5 most-read blog posts from 2012. Kinda funny that the top one is about boys LOL!

I'm realizing how long it's been since our focus has been friend problems, middle school issues, be expecting that topic early in 2013! But for now...drum roll are the top 5!

1. Actual Quotes from Teenaged Boys

2. Helping Your Daughter Choose Good Friends

3. How Do You Respond to a Mean Girl?

4. 5 Things Story- Raising a Daughter with a Disability

5. 5 things Story- Roberta Pepin, Mom of 10

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! Enjoy tonight. May your new year be blessed.


Christmas Then and Now- Sharon's Story

Meet my friend Sharon. Sharon is the one I spoke of yesterday that shares the message that causes a ruckus on our Mom's Panel. Miss that one? Catch up right here----> HERE

Today she shares a story of her Christmases through the years, from her childhood, through adulthood as a mom, and now how it looks during the "grandma" years. You can follow her humorous and inspirational blog at Sister Chat. She's always up to something, so it's a good read!


Everybody’s story of their family of origin is different.  It took me a while to discover that the Norman Rockwell scenes were FICTION!  After that revelation I was a much happier person.  Evidently even as a child, I’d been comparing my life with what I THOUGHT my friend’s lives were like and of course I came up short, especially at the holidays. (Only as an adult have I come to realize that all families struggle with something and perfectionism is a curse.)

My mother died when I was 11 months old, my sister was 3.  Our alcoholic father placed us in the care of our maternal grandparents and a bachelor uncle.  We were poorer than church mice but didn’t know it at the time!

Our Christmas celebrations and decorations were FAB.  At least I thought so, it’s all I knew.  They consisted of a ragged cedar tree that my uncle cut and brought in from the woods near our small town and some red and green crepe paper, twisted and taped to the ceiling corners of our very small living room. The tree was covered with those terrible silver string “icicles” and a plastic red and white star that I still treasure.  My sister and I had red “swirl” skirts and a piano!  We practiced “Drummer Boy” and “O Holy Night” for weeks for our “Christmas Program” which we and whatever cousins we could wrangle into the performance would deliver.  Our audience would be our grandparents, show time was immediately BEFORE opening presents on Christmas Eve.

Early Christmas Eve evening, the married uncles would bring their wives and many children to our home and absolutely FILL that tiny house.  After we kiddos sang a song or two, after each person opened ONE gift, the adults would crowd into the kitchen for pie. Granny had spent the day baking all kinds; chocolate cream covered with meringue was my favorite.  That party usually lasted a couple of hours. On Christmas Morning we opened ONE very small gift from Santa, checked out the hard Christmas candy (usually stuck to the inside toe of the stocking) examined the ONE huge orange in our stocking and ate turkey dinner.  It was great!  It’s all we knew and it was enough.

Our Christmas celebrations have since magnified ten-fold. 

I learned from my days in 4-H how to set a table and bake Christmas goodies. After marriage and two boys arrived, our Christmas celebrations grew and were refined to say the least.  We began to party the whole month of December. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook a turkey, sweet potatoes and cheese peas! I had an older woman friend in every city we’ve lived and each shared tips and recipes.   My time spent teaching the Bible to adults gave me the depth of the absolute miracle of Christmas.  I studied Southern Living magazine, took Christmas tours, watched my friends, and yes, looked at Norman Rockwell type paintings. I copied every good idea I saw and so our decorations, food, and celebrations became a hodge podge of everything. Pictures prove that Christmas was often “over the top.” 

Sending out Christmas cards continues to be a favorite activity as I thank God for each person on my list, remember times we’ve spent together and pray for each one and their family.  I’m going to dread the day when hard-copy Christmas cards go out of fashion!

We incorporated stockings filled with toys, a mound of gifts for each boy, lights on the house, music, church services, gathering gifts and taking them to the underprivileged, two trees in the house, Snow Village set-ups, a blow-up Santa riding in an airplane, many children’s Christmas books, kids parties, adult parties, church parties, clothespin cookies, and yes, CHOCOLATE PIE.  

Often the Christmas morning activities would begin very early, one year it was 2 a.m.  Whoever woke up first was the signal for the party to start!

One year when our oldest was three, he was invited to speak at our church and he recited from memory all of Luke 2.  I’d drawn pictures of the story on butcher paper to help him grasp the details.   

Now the “boys” are grown and have many children of their own. And we make NEW Christmas traditions. We visit them bearing gifts (usually not on THE day) and “fit into” their wives and in-laws plans.  We go to church with them, sledding, shopping or whatever they want to do.  It’s fun to watch them make their own memories with their children. 

We spoil the grandchildren terribly and are forming new traditions with them. (Making homemade noodles, taking a light tour, unwrapping gifts on a “pretend” Christmas morning.)  And we try to find time to go back to the “family of origin” and take the trip down memory lane.

I think I’ll go make a chocolate pie!


When's It Ever Gonna Be My Turn?

Over lunch and a cup of hot tea, once again my mind was provoked by a friend who always makes me think. This particular subject was about the holidays.

She told me about a conversation she had with a young relative. This young mom admitted to my friend some frustrations with holidays, extended family plans and pressures she felt to make everyone happy. She said to my friend, "When is it ever gonna be my turn?"

My friend, surprised a bit, said "But it is your turn". This hit her relative with surprise, as brand new thoughts burst forth.

Now back track with me to a post from last year. I shared last year about a Mom's Panel that I take part in. Six moms share 5 minutes about their stage in life, so in 30 minutes the listener has heard highlights of lessons learned in parenting each stage from toddlers to empty-nesting.

During one particular 5 minute segment, the one that covers the phase of life where your own children are married with children, our panel discovered an intriguing phenomenon. No matter where we were, what church we were in, even in other states, the reaction from the audience of women during her segment was the same. Stankface. (That's what a couple of us on the panel eventually named it). What did she say that was so offensive?

Sharon's offending words to fellow grandmas (offered with a smiling face and great humor)- "I've learned to allow my married children to form their own new holiday traditions and in the process make some new ones of my own and be happy about it. Sharing my children and grandchildren with "those other people" at holidays is a good thing but must be learned with gracious cooperation."

As she shares this hard word with grandmas, they don't like it. There is a generalized "stankface" that sweeps across the room, laughter subsides and a bit of thick air permeates as she shares her medicine with a spoonful of humored sugar. We realized how pervasive this problem is and how delicate the feelings are as we watched reactions over and over among diverse groups of women. Strangely, the younger in the crowds always look happy.

My lunch and tea friend shared that her grown kids have not been to her house for Christmas in 10 years. I asked her if she's ok with that. She wasn't for awhile, but decided to be. She's now happy she always has an invitation to one of her children's homes for the holidays. Perspective. She says, "It's their turn". She also said she only knows of one or two other friends who are also grandmas who have made peace with that. "What do the others do?" I asked. "Manipulate, whine, moan, wring their hands, coerce..." A great basis for happy holidays. (Not!)

Since this conversation, I have observed two items in the media relating to this. One is a radio commercial featuring a grandma who brags about all the up to date technology her house offers so that she's the "favorite grandma" to visit at the holidays.

Another really funny Facebook post I saw is this:

"An old man in Miami calls up his son in New York and says, "Listen, your mother and I are getting divorced. Forty-five years of misery is enough." "Dad what are you talking about?" the son screams. "We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," he says. "I'm sick of her face, and I'm sick of talking about this, so call your sister in Chicago and tell her", and he hangs up. Now the son is worried. So he calls up his sister. She says, "Like hell they're getting divorced!" and calls her father immediately. "You're not getting divorced! Don't do another thing, the two of us are flying home tomorrow to talk about this. Until then, don't call a lawyer, don't file a paper, do you hear me?!" and she hangs up. The old man turns to his wife and says "Okay, they're coming for Christmas and paying their own airfares."

No one pretends this is an easy time of life. I can well imagine it's not. But I think of my friend's perspective of becoming okay with the new phase and how much easier and happier the holidays would be if others could do the same. She had "her turn" as she raised her kids and did Christmas as she and her husband wanted. Now her kids are grown and she says they need to do things in a way that's best for their families. It's their turn. Can we think of it as taking turns?

I think of her relative she talked to, the young mom who was stressing over doing what everyone else wanted and putting down her own desires for her young family. It should be her turn. What if she spends all her time as her kids grow up doing what everyone else wants, then her kids leave. Did she miss her turn?

The simple concept of "taking turns" that we teach our toddlers, turns into a lesson we don't want to do ourselves, in later years. Do we regress to fighting for our own way, not wanting to share, this time in ways that are more "dressed up" than the biting, pulling, grabbing and screaming of two year olds?

My friend who served me tea that day said it's not easy. But it's right. It makes life work.

Holidays can be hard in some ways. But many families work it all out with no problem. Take turns with location, all happily gather in one place, compromise, celebrate a different date, etc. Even as you are in the "take your own turn" stage, it's good to be aware and flexible and occasionally do something different that accomodates others. But if you think about all the families who have family at a distance, or multiple families to visit because of divorce and remarriage, things get quite complex. And stressful.

But freedom gives room. Enjoying what we do have. Being flexible.

This doesn't apply to everyone, but it will to some. Whether it's your time for you to take your own turn, or whether it's time for you to let someone else have their turn, this is good food for thought this Christmas season.


Tunnel Vision- Friendship Problems

my friend's son made this one day.
My daughter doesn't like to do anything after school. She doesn't like to talk about the day, answer questions or anything until after having some time alone. The music is turned on, usually followed by her drifting off for a quick nap on the car ride home.

So she was less than enthusiastic when I told her we were headed straight to the Art Museum to see the Christmas displays before the museum closed at 5:00pm. A quick bribe of a drink and a hot dog ensued, and off we were to meet my other daughter at the museum.

Daughter who met us had to observe three paintings for a college class, so we strolled down the "non-Christmassy" side of the museum to ponder paintings. My favorite- The Little Shepherdess by William Bouguereau, was right there, life size and looking at us.

I simply commented to my still reluctant daughter how peaceful and confident the Little Shepherdess looked. Her head whipped around in a suddenly alert, fiery and baffled moment as she challenged my thoughts. "She isn't peaceful! That isn't confidence! Look at her eyes. Her eyes are sad!  She's worried, like the weight of the world is on her shoulders." (As she said this last sentence, she motioned toward the symbolic staff resting on the shoulders of the shepherdess).

Suddenly I realized the power of art. 

I then proceeded to tell my reasonings of why she looked peaceful and confident, and at home with her position, therefore the relaxed stance with her staff.

Up strolls the daughter who is actually there to observe the paintings for class. We ask her opinion since she hadn't heard ours yet. We said, "Look at her eyes, what do they say?"

"She's not happy, she's not mad, she's just okay with everything. Resigned."

There you have it. Three of us all looking at the same painting, seeing three completely different things.

As I thought about this later, oh how this represents so many problems girls have in life with friends. Most friendship struggles and even mom struggles could be pinpointed back to this observation. Everyone looked at the same situation and saw completely different things.

We all see things differently.

All you see is that your daughter says she and her friend aren't getting along anymore. Your daughter says her friend seems "too good for her anymore" and is ignoring her.

You didn't see when your daughter spilled her friend's secrets to a group of friends, hoping to be the one with the latest juicy gossip. You didn't see her friend decide to distance herself from your daughter, hurt that a good friend would do that to her.

All you hear is your daughter moaning over how intolerable a girl is at school and that she just can't take her attitude anymore.

You don't see the "intolerable" girl at her home at night, struggling to learn to be herself and fit in at this new school that terrifies her. She's so used to being mistreated that she's built up a shell of defense.

Moms and girls alike, we never know the whole situation. Sometimes it is like the picture above. We feel like we are seeing a situation so clearly, but we are really just peering through one little hole. (My friend's son made this one day while I was talking to his mom. So creative).

It would help us all to learn to take down the mask of prejudgments, take down the inability to think our own may be at fault, and give others the benefit of the doubt that we give ourselves and our own children.

As we take a look at the whole picture, hear each person's side and consider where each person is coming from, odds are better that we will arrive at an understanding.


Phones and Social Media- Some Parents' Rules

Since my three recent posts, Dating Amongst Tweens, Dads Against Daughters Dating and At Some Point They Will Date, I've been thinking of the moms who do not have a husband at all to handle dating scenarios as they come up, and also those ladies who have a husband who is very hands off and unwilling in these matters.

I don't want to leave you out or leave you feeling discouraged that for whatever reason, your teens don't have a dad to enforce what you wish. Doing that alone is hard work. The answer to that dilemma is not easy. To be both roles yourself, or to find a father figure that your teen will listen to.

Through conversations I had with dads for those blog posts, some tips came up that might be valuable. I'd like to offer these out to everyone, but especially to moms in this situation. These tips can be used very well by dad or mom. In fact, in our house I enforce a lot of these myself, and just leave the big stuff to my husband. These are some steps that are helpful that will probably occur before dating even starts, so having some standards in place early on is helpful.

Here are some thoughts:

Our 16 year old daughter always has to ask us if a boy wants to be her "friend" on Facebook and we have to approve. She can not ask a boy to be Facebook friends first. She is not allowed to chat boys on Facebook either, unless she's related to them, or we know them very well. :)

We told our kids that they can't just give out their phone numbers willy nilly.

I've told my girls the benefit of giving out a google phone number instead of their cell phone number. With a google number, you can block people that you wish you hadn't given your number to or ever have a problem with. But the calls will forward to your real cell phone number. 

In middle school, my daughter is not allowed to give her number to boys, therefore she can't text them either. She can ask me about certain guys and if I approve it, I get their number also, so I have a list of boys numbers that are approved and who they are.

We do random phone and contact checks to see who they are talking to. I know sometimes kids "hide" people in their phone by listing them under someone else's name. My kids have to be ready to answer for everyone in their phone.

I don't let my kids "friend" anyone more than a couple of years older than them of the opposite sex unless it's a good family friend we know well. There's nothing to gain by them "getting to know" a guy or girl that much older.

We don't allow friending adults without asking us first. Has to be approved first. Teachers or coaches don't get cell phone numbers either. (We personally had this understanding too-my daughter was told if an adult asked for a cell number, to just give them mine.)

I reserve the right to have my kids "defriend" or "unfollow" people if I don't like what I see. If they want to stay on social media, that's part of it.

Much of  teens communication comes through these channels before dating ever starts, so having boundaries here in cell phones and social media is a good precursor to handling dating issues later.



5 Things- Holiday Style

Tis the time of year for celebrating!

For those that don't know, I just self published a holiday book! 
5 Things- Holiday Style...Making the Season Meaningful. Affordable. Unforgettable".

It's been in my head for a few years. Actual fruition of the idea was inspired by seeing a book my friend made.

My friend Lisa, who is amazing first of all, had a book published this fall.

Actually her friends turned her blog into a book for a fundraising effort. Lisa's sweet mom is going through cancer treatments right now, Lisa has overcome health issues herself, and she spends SO much time helping various causes in our city, many involving cancer, animals and children. She has spent time with cancer patients, helping them through treatment. She basically brings her happy self to many people who need her. She has overcome much and shares her story very openly, bringing hope and life to many. (She even wears a chicken costume for some occasions, but you'll have to get her book to find out why!)

Her book is called "Joy in the Journey: Finding Laughter and Miracles in Very Dark Places" by Lisa Jernigan Bain. You can find it on Amazon.

So I pounded it out for a couple of weeks and put all the ideas in my head onto paper. With the help of my hubby, this first 5 Things book was created! (Many more to come!) In it, I share many ideas, traditions, menus and recipes that our family has used over the course of many years through the holidays. Many of my mom's best recipes that I use are in it. I love to celebrate, as you will find out in this book!

5 Things- Holiday Style is like a guide through the holidays, and it reads more like a book than a cookbook. Humorous stories guide you throughout. I promise you will laugh out loud at least once, and giggle a few times. Many reports of crying too. The response has been awesome, truly. So many emailed, texted or told me that they read the entire thing in one setting. I'm so grateful for the response!

All the books I sold here locally were part of a fundraising effort too. 10% went to my daughter's youth group fundraiser- a clean water well in Uganda. The rest is set aside to benefit Girls 101 Workshops, the cause I am determined to bring to our city in a bigger way. More to come on that in the future.

If you are interested, you can find me on Amazon. Just do a search for "5 Things- Holiday Style" and up I pop!

Merry Christmas!


Dating Series- At Some Point They Will Date.

So what do we do when "dating" and boyfriends rears its ugly head as early as 11 or 12 years old?
Click here to find out!  Dating Amongst Tweens

As I asked several dads for their opinions on daughters dating, the collective opinion seemed to be a big fat no! Read here:  Dads Against Daughters Dating.

Today I want to share some more similar thoughts from dads, and also how they handle the transition into inevitable dating, when their daughters ARE old enough. Because eventually she's gonna go out with someone right?

There are different approaches towards this. Hopefully in these different approaches and philosophies you can find one that works for you.

Scenario 1- When a 16 year old daughter asked to hang out with a guy friend alone, the guy had to come see the dad first at home, even if the date was just an hour at Sonic.  They would chat about life, or he would throw out random questions to see how the guy handled it. That lasted for quite awhile before he stopped putting him through the process. That dad has the philosophy that boys and girls that are "friends" are never just friends, and someone always ends up liking each other. For that reason, he does not have a different category for how he treats "friends" or "boyfriends". If you want to hang out with his daughter, even as a friend, you go through the same treatment a boyfriend would.

Scenario 2- A daughter is in 9th grade. A group of friends want to go out together. Though no one claims to like each other, the group is 2 boys and 2 girls. Only because the dad knew all kids involved, and knew their families, did he allow it. If he hadn't known the kids and the families, he wouldn't have allowed it at 15.  But the boys were still required to call him first, get his permission and talk to him about the outing. It had a very safe feel to it.

Scenario 3- Dad does not allow any outings at all until the boy meets with him and goes through a series of questions with the dad. Dad sets out a very clear plan of what he wants for his daughter and what he expects from the boy in his behavior.

Scenario 4- After relenting to let his daughter date at age 18 to a pretty good guy, dad still set limits on how much time could be spent together each week. It could not be together all the time every day.

Lastly, I'd like one more dad, who has two teen daughters, to share his philosophy.

"Here are my thoughts on allowing my daughters to "date" in their early to mid teen (13-17) years.

I do not see any scriptural support for allowing daughters or sons to date in the traditional American sense.  The pattern we find in scripture is one where dating (courtship or even engagement might be a better description) was for the purpose of leading to marriage. So unless I, as a father, am ready to let my daughter marry between the ages of 13-17 then dating is not an option.

I am all for my daughters getting to know someone better who they have an interest in, through correspondence and conversation in controlled environments, but even then not until the mid teen years. During this time they should observe the young mans spiritual walk, how he treats her, how he treats his mother and siblings and his respect and obedience toward his father.

Then assuming they find themselves compatible with one another and could see that the relationship could lead further towards the engagement and marriage path, I would be comfortable before the Lord that a "dating" relationship could begin."

This dad's daughter, when she was 18, had a boy interested in her. He approached this dad and asked if he had permission to get to know his daughter better. The boy and girl wrote letters back and forth and texted for a few months (happened to be long distance, family friends who had moved away). Then he approached dad again and asked if he could commit to a more dating relationship with her, meaning that he could foresee the possibility of wanting to marry her one day. Permission granted. So phonecalls and skyping joined the letters and texts. Two years later they are still dating and visiting each other.

Basically, there are many routes to take. These dads just want to make sure their daughters are well treated and respected and protected. There are still dads out there who set boundaries and require things of boys. It isn't always easy to do, because girls may resist it and find it unnecessary, but a decent guy is usually up for the challenge. So dads if you're feeling old school or wimpy, step up! You're not alone. Though it's not as common, there is still a need for dads to play their protective role over their daughters.

As my husband puts it, as the girls get older, he can't stop things from happening, but he can definitely be a good speed bump.


D.A.D.D.s - Dads Against Daughters Dating

Our last post "Dating Amongst Tweens" tackled the subject of how, when and if dating should begin among our kids. Often there is some version of "dating" beginning in late elementary or early middle school (known as the tween years), so it's never too early to start figuring out your philosphy!

Your opinion will be needed sooner than you'd think.

Girls want to feel loved. Every girl wants to know that she is desirable. That may be a main motive for girls wanting to date.

A girl may find herself suddenly in a situation she didn't plan on. Say a middle school girl is innocently strolling around the school hallways, unawares. Before she heads into 5th hour, a boy delivers the message that his friend, who happens to be the guy that all the girls admire, likes her and wants to know if she likes him back. Flustered, and now flattered, this girl has felt the thrill and excitement of being wanted, picked out of a crowd, desired.

That can be an emotion that is heady and takes over reason. My husband has said this to our girls in the past...."There will come a day a guy will like you. It will feel amazing. But here's the clue, you don't have to do anything about it."

I think this is smart because if the above scenario happens, the girl feels giddy and ecstatic, then has to make a decision. What do I answer? Then comes the question, will I be his girlfriend? If she's thought about it prior and isn't caught off guard, she may realize "Wow, it really does feel great...and I think I'll just enjoy it feeling great. I don't think I'm ready to do anything about it." (Or she may yell YES, but we can hope).

The reality though? If all the girls are in love with him, the relationship probably won't last long and he'll  just add you to a list of girls conquered.

On the flip side, some girls now are putting undue pressure on boys at an early age. When they are "dating", suddenly the girl is shooting the evil eye at other girls who simply look in his direction. He's not allowed to have friends that are girls. One girl said "Girls often mistake having a conversation with flirting." Do we really own other people like that? Where they aren't allowed to talk to other people?

I asked several dads for their opinions on tween dating (ages 11-12 ish).
I asked about dating during tween and early teen years.  What I got was largely anti-dating answers, regardless of what stage of teen years we are referring to. (I'm happy to post a dad's opinion who is pro dating, I just haven't been able to find one!) None of these people who gave opinions are against dating entirely, they are just wary of dating before marrying is actually an option. And apparently, they know boys better than we moms do, having been one before.

Here are their thoughts:

"As a teacher and a dad of three girls, I'm totally against dating in the forms that I have seen. I don't want my daughters wrapped up into one person either emotionally or physically. They can go on dates to dances and such. Dating seems to awaken things in kids both male and female long before it is time. Definitely okay with dating in college and maybe late high school, depending on my daughter and the guy. What I tell my high school students is all kids are stupid when it comes to dating in high school so don't date." (I wish you could know this dad to "hear" him saying that last line. He is so fun and loved by teens, and connects with them instantly. Besides being a public school teacher, he has spent years in youth ministry, so he sees alot.)

"Girls basically want to feel loved and guys want to feel respected/have their ego filled. Guys probably love the hunt to make a girl like him more than the actual girl herself. It's more competition and a hunt, enjoying the power to make someone like you, more than the actual person. The girl is thinking it's all romantic and personal, and is doodling her first name with his last, and he's just happy to have someone cool to hang out with at the football game Friday night."

"I am not particularly open to my 13 year old daughters dating. It is no commentary on their maturity. However, I don't see the point or value of such relationships when they must be prohibited from running their course. Since this is the case, I can see no good excuse for them to subject themselves to the anguish of love lost, etc. Nor the pressure to behave in ways they ought not."

"Dating too early is almost guaranteed disappointment. You'll most likely end up taking hits on self esteem, and become an unintended victim."

One dad says he remembers being in 6th grade. His entire goal was to touch a boobie. It didn't matter whose boobie, anyone's would do. His girlfriend I guess would be the first one who allowed him to touch her boobie? That's deep. Haha. But honest.

"If a guy gets dumped, he probably doesn't care nearly as much as the girl would if she got dumped. His ego is probably hurt more than his heart."

"Girls look for relationship, boys look for opportunity. That's why guys can move on so easily. If a girl doesn't want to do something, he'll move on to the next one who will give him an opportunity."

(This last one is deep if you think about it. Girls should perhaps not feel quite so flattered in those times that boys are just seeking anyone willing. What happens is sometimes girls give in to things because they think they have to to keep the boy. That may be true- if it is, is that the kind of relationship you want? He's not after you, just what you can give him? The only fix for that is girls having high enough value and identity to not give into this. Hopefully parents of guys are teaching them that girls aren't just to meet their needs, but valued as people. And vice versa. Dating is best after kids have grown up enough to understand the value of other people.)

"Relationships in teen years usually cost more than they are worth. The risk outweights the benefit. There may be some value, but usually there's little value."

"From experience, boys are generally too immature to come close to meeting a girls' expectations. It's difficult at 42, I'm just figuring it out. Guaranteed a 14 year old guy doesn't know what he's doing. Girls tend to be surprised when disappointment happens, or when a guy is disappointing, but it shouldn't be surprising."

"If you can make it through high school without a boyfriend or girlfriend, I truly believe you'll be a healthier, more whole person".

This conversation happened referring to older teens and college aged dating, but they said, "Ya gotta date through the chemical phase. Aren't there love chemicals that get released that make us all lovey dovey and crazy? Definitely gotta date long enough for the love drug to wear off. Then see."

Here's what's helpful about the dad opinion. They are typically not emotionally involved in decisions, as we moms can be. They are protectors and logical. So often they can see things more clearly than we can, because they don't wrap themselves up in the process, but just call it like they see it. We do have to work together at times and he may need to hear some of our side to understand other things, but for the most part, when it comes to this subject of dating, even if you don't always agree, I say it's pretty good to have a husband with an opinion. He's usually right.

Putting all this thought and care into our dating opinion doesn't mean our kids will always listen to us, or that they'll do everything right. But both parent's perspectives are needed, and care and concern should go into how we approach this subject early on.