Yesterday she thought she was a Disney Princess and the idea of dressing up for Prince Charming was all fun and games. But today, the idea of our Princess dreaming of a Prince Charming leaves me unprepared in uncharted territories.
I mean REALLY how did we get from there to here so fast?
The whole idea of dating, hanging out or “talking”; whatever terms you want to call it, makes me teary just thinking about what’s right around the corner. But also in knowing what all that could entail if we don’t faithfully walk alongside her and enter this journey too. Instead of leaving them to navigate alone because it can be hard to talk about, I’m afraid this is a subject that should be given a lot more weighty thought and action by parents. And not just when our girls hit high school. But starting when they are still twirling in their princess gowns.
Track with me here…
Watching the Disney princess movies seem like no big deal and believe me we watched them a thousand times. But without even contemplating that her sweet little head was being filled with the idea that one day she will live happily ever after with Mr. Perfect Prince Charming.
Then when our girls get a little older they trade in their princesses for the same type premise in the form of High-School Musical-type Disney shows (which we had memorized). There is a perfect guy who will make life perfect.
Fast-forward again and our pre-teens, teens (and grown women) go to Nicholas Spark-type movies where again we see the lady rescued by the man of her dreams (often outside of the context of marriage) and delivered to a life of love and happiness.
My problem with this idealism is not because I am a feminist who thinks we need to find happiness on our own first. Or a skeptic who doesn’t believe love can last forever. My problem is as happy as a man can make us, he will never be perfect and life will never be a bed of roses. Yet by God’s grace we can be joyous and content all the same.
However, to rest in that perspective we need to teach our daughters (and our sons) that God uses marriage and relationships for our sanctification and to His glory! And the end all be all of life is not our happiness. Real love is a commitment that takes hard work and fighting for.
To borrow lyrics from The Avett Brothers’ song “Love Like The Movies”…
Now in the movies they make it look so perfect, And in the background they’re always playing the right song. And in the ending there’s always a resolution, But real life is more than just two hours long.
I don’t want to be in love like the movies, Cause in the movies they’re not in love at all. With a twinkle in their eyes, They’re just saying their lines. So we can’t be in love like the movies.
This movie-like idealism for high school girls and beyond perpetuates the false thinking that life would be perfect if I had a boyfriend. And therefore I must be perfect. I must dress in ways that are appealing and do things that get me noticed. Before you know she is bowing down to the idols of self-absorption, romance, love, beauty, perfection. Those things that she thinks promises life and happiness.
Once she snags that boy, what must she do (or think she has to do) to keep him? A potential path of regret and shame that may not surface until years later or just when the reality sets in that he isn’t as perfect as she once thought, so she (or he) moves on and the cycle begins again.
Now I’m not advocating that girls settle. But I am afraid our pattern of dating leads to a few problems:
- marrying later because Mr. Perfect can’t be found prolonging self-focusedness
- demanding husbands and boyfriends be perfect, meet all needs and make one happy
- divorcing because they are not perfect, don’t meet needs or keep one happy
Instead of giving my Princess over to these idols, wouldn’t it be better to shepherd her to see that only God is perfect and only He can meet her needs perfectly? And only in Him can she find true joy, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, the good and the bad? And in learning to be content and satisfied in Him might she then be filled with His grace to better love and respect her future God-given prince?
So what can we do differently? How can we help them see the “idols” related to being in a relationship or not? How can we prevent them from running through a string of boyfriends on the quest for Mr. Perfect? To keep them from kissing so many frogs leaving scars along the way?
My open-ended questions I hope lead to some fruitful discussion! I’m sure this is just the first of many future posts I will make on this topic so I would love to hear from you. Especially from you believing parents or young women who have walked this road or are on it now.
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