I was reminded of an old tradition with Courting Candles on the Homestead Survival Blog. The suitor would bring one of these candles with him to a young lady’s house and the parents would light the candle. Their approval of the young man, or comfort level with him, determined the length of the wick they allowed.
When the candle burned to the metal clip the flame was snuffed out. A not-so-subtle hint that you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. It gave the parents a measure of control over who was seeking a relationship with their children.
A cool idea, in theory. But is it practical in today’s world?
Many of you would say no but here’s where I want to tell you the story about how Sidney and I had our first date. Because I grew up in a household where the family rule was, if anyone wants to take you out on a date he had to ask my dad’s permission first.
This served two main purposes in my mind (although I can’t speak for whether it’s what my parents had in mind):
1. It eliminated the jerks and cowards very quickly. I figured if a guy was too scardey-cat to ask my dad for a simple date he probably wouldn’t be someone I’d want to tie my life to long-term.
2. It gave me an easy out when a guy I REALLY wasn’t interested in asked me out. “Oh man! You gotta ask my dad!” “Hey Dad! If this guy named Nick calls? End it. Thanks, love you, Daddy!”
Even after you went to college? Yes, even after I went to college.
Sidney and I met our sophomore year when he held the door open for me (more on that in my upcoming post Is Chivalry Dead Or Did Women Kill It) and although he’d met my parents, and even visited my house over Christmas break, our first real date was Valentine’s Day in February. You know a date that involved more than “Hey what time are you going to lunch? K, meet you there.” A REAL date. With reservations and dressing up and everything.
So he called my dad. I’m not one-hundred percent sure how that conversation went except that it ended with Dad having Sidney make reservations for FOUR at the nice eatery in McAlester. Yes you read that correct, folks. Four.
There was a little chit chat and small talk but at one point after Sidney asked, “So Mr. Bellisario, what exactly do you do?” My dad leaned over the table and said meaningfully, “I sell axes. And shovels.”
I was horrified, “Dad! I told you to be nice to this one!” (In hindsight that may have been what prompted his remark.) My dad was nonplussed though, “Now lets talk about you wanting to date my daughter?” Way to go dad….make me a nun for the rest of my life.
Thankfully Sidney’s interest in me was stronger than his fear of getting chopped into tiny pieces and buried in my backyard so he had a man-to-man talk with my dad about what dating me meant, and did NOT mean, while my mom smirkled and I prayed to God that I wouldn’t die of embarrassment.
They reached an understand, man-to-man I guess. All I know is that when it was all said and done I knew I’d found someone who was worth looking twice at. Sidney said it was definitely a first but he didn’t have any trouble talking to my parents if that’s what he needed to do. “I knew I’d found something special. I wasn’t playing around.”
Turns out I’m not the only one with a strict family – and some of my readers even said they wished their parents had been more strict about who they dated and their involvement in the relationship. Now I know I’ve heard of situations where parents were too over-the-top, but I’ve heard of many, MANY more situations where teenagers made bad decisions that hurt them emotionally or physically and wished their parents had been looking out for them a little more.
Feedback from readers includes:
- Rules about parents being present whenever they were home (no home visits alone)
- Meeting the boy before a date, phone call, etc.
- Dates were primarily group outings or family outings
- No “dating” at all (a la Josh Harris’ I Kissed Dating Goodbye)
- Waiting until 16, or 18, before dating.
What do you think? Did you have rules for dating when you were growing up? Will you be involved with your children’s dating lives? What rules do you feel are reasonable and help protect your children?