Single Parent Faith

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dating Service- Through the Eyes of a Child and Single Mom, Part 2


“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” —Plato





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The dating service arranged a meeting for me after work, on a Friday my daughter was to be with her dad. That morning, as I was in my closet, my daughter asked, “Do you know what you’re going to wear?”

"No." 

“What kind of a look are you going for? Are you going for the sexy look?”

Where does she get this stuff? I don’t use the word “sexy” with my child, but there are multiple sources in a child’s life where they can pick up all sorts of language and ideas.

We stood in my closet as she pointed and selected various items, trying to match them for me. Eventually we made a combined selection—Of course I had veto power.


Later on that evening I met the guy at a restaurant where we sat for 2 hours talking.

He was 10 years older, much older than I was prepared for, since the service told me he was younger. It must be that they quote the age of the person as it appears on the original dating service application—Not the age of the person when the date is to take place. It’s either deceiving, or just plain sloppy on the part of the dating service.

I didn’t feel comfortable with him for a dating scenario. He looked at least 15-20 yrs older than me, and several times referred to me as “kid.” This only served to make me more uncomfortable with the age difference. Being called a kid is not my idea of an equal adult relationship. This was not a connection for me.

After I was home, my daughter called asking, “Where are you?”

“I’m home. I got home a little while ago.”

“Well, tell me!  Do you think you’re gonna marry him?”

I laughed, “Sweetie, I don’t think I like him in a marrying way, more like maybe just friends. We exchanged telephone numbers and business cards.”

“Did you give him our address?”

“No.”

“Good girl!”

I laughed, but was encouraged that at 11 years of age, she already knew what information is inappropriate to share with someone you don’t know. She definitely took in what I’ve been teaching her.

She also asked, “What kind of questions did you ask him?” 

Her asking me this verified that she’s been listening to me when I’ve shared that to get to know a person, one must ask questions and start out as friends.

“I asked him about his spiritual beliefs. He said he believes in God and that he goes to church and has visited many different kinds of churches to find the right fit. He says he likes to sing in the choir…”

She quickly interjected, “Are you sure he’s not gay?”

It was unexpected, but funny. "What makes you say that?" 

“LaLaLaLaa,” she sang.

“I don’t get it.”

“Mom!  He sings in a choir!  Don’t you think that’s gay?”

I laughed, “Lots of straight men sing, Sweetie.”

“Are you sure he’s not?”

“No, I can’t say with certainty, since I don’t really know him.”

“Mom, what color hair does he have?”

“It’s mostly gray, but with some black sprinkled in.”

“Oh my gosh mom! Could you talk to him to see if he can get highlights? Because if you do get married, he’d be gray, like a grandpa! And I don’t want a grandpa for a dad!”

We laughed together then said our goodnights. A short while afterwards, the phone rang again. It was my darling daughter.

You should know that earlier in the day, after school, she called me while riding on the daycare bus.  She said, “Mom, Tanner asked me out today.”

 “Oh? So what did you say?”

 “I said yes.”

Tonight, when she called me back, with a deliberate and pensive tone she began, “Mom, I’ve been thinking…..I kinda want to be single.”

I tried so hard to suppress my giggling, “Well, if that’s what you want, then that’s okay. You don’t have to date anyone if you don’t want to. You have your whole life later to do that. Are you going to tell him?”

“That’s not how it’s done, mom!” I could hear the tone of disbelief. Somehow I’m expected to know this.

"How then?" I was a fish out of elementary school water.

“Someone else tells them. I was thinking of asking Shelly to tell him.”

“I think it’s better if you tell him yourself. If he hears it from someone else, it may hurt more. You could say something like ‘I don’t want to go out with anyone right now.’  I know it’s not easy, but telling him yourself will be right.”

She quietly processed then said sincerely, “Thank you Mamma, for helping me.”

“You’re welcome Sweetie.”

The next day I asked her how it went.

“My friend Christopher came over and asked me if I wanted to go out with Tanner. I said ‘I’ll think about it.’ ”  She explained this way worked best because Christopher told Tanner, and she got her point across without having to tell him herself. Go figure.

“Did that hurt Tanner’s feelings?”

“No. He’s already going out with Nicole.”

My daughter was comfortable to discuss the outcome, even though it wasn’t what I recommended. The opportunity fell into her lap (Christopher’s question) and she took it, and in her world she was at peace with the outcome, as was Tanner.

That day I learned that there are a variety of ways to resolve situations, and my way is not always the best fit for my child, given her age, her personality, or the culture we now live in. Though it’s still my job to deliver the moral compass message, ultimately it’s her decision how she decides to implement my advice in a manner that makes sense to her. Choosing not to resolve per my advice, is also an option. As long as she doesn’t hurt herself or others in the process, resolving something in her way, teaches her she has the ability and strength to handle matters.

I have found this to be a necessary step as a parent to learn—when to back off and allow a child to exercise her own independent thinking. That is after all my role as parent, to raise her strong and capable of becoming an independent adult who doesn’t need my advice at every turn. It doesn’t mean I become obsolete, but I believe my child will be more likely to come to me if I don’t guilt her or punish her for not having done things “my way.”

There will always be aspects in a child’s life that are unknown to parents—as scary as that is to admit, it is reality—things they decide not to share. I just pray that as parents we can continually do the work of reminding them that we’re receptive to open dialogue. We can’t rest on our laurels, we have to continually keep working at demonstrating our willingness to listen and advise, without being authoritarian, as this will shut them down. Instead, we have to remember to respect them and their process. 

Ella Venezia
Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved

2 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your anecdote. The dialogue with your child is very important to build that trust. Being a single parent is not an easy task. I've been there as well.

    Doris

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Doris for your comment. I agree, a parent must engage in dialogue and behavior that builds and maintains the trust.
    -Ella

    ReplyDelete

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