Ok, Sisters and brothers, I’m in a quandary and I need the advice of the communal hive mind of the interwebs. I have two children—let’s call them Betsy and Tom—who are dating nonmembers. Betsy is 18 and a Senior in High School. Tom is 16 and is a Junior. Where we live in Texas, pickings for Mormons are slim. There are maybe a dozen kids their age who are LDS.
Betsy and Tom were both hesitant to initially tell us that they liked someone, knowing that we would definitely prefer them to date a member of the Church. Several years ago we established a rule that the children were only allowed to go on two dates with someone before their friend had to have a discussion with the missionaries. Not only for the sake of missionary work, but also so that the non-member kids would have an idea of what my children believe. So far the boyfriend and girlfriend have complied.
Here’s where things get tricky: the girlfriend and boyfriend’s parents are less than happy about the whole Mormon issue. Betsy’s boyfriend goes to church with us about half the time and has shown an interest in being baptized. He’s even applied to BYU (whether for the church or Betsy, I don’t know). His mother is the youth pastor at their church and is slightly horrified at the idea of her son converting.
Tom’s girlfriend is less enthused with the church. She’ll come every once in a while (her best friend is also LDS although in another ward) but doesn’t want any more discussions and absolutely refuses to go against the wishes of her parents who are Evangelicals and not too fond of our church.
My husband would be perfectly happy to forbid our children from seeing their boyfriend and girlfriend ever again. He was always completely obedient to his parents and thinks that our children should be too. I was a sneaky little troublemaker and I’m pretty positive that forbidding our children to date non-members would just lead to lying and sneaking around.
My husband’s point in not wanting our children to date exclusively is a valid one. The prophets have all advised against it. But when you like someobody a lot, you like somebody a lot and I don’t exactly want to have a Romeo and Juliet situation on our hands. Plus there’s the absurd idea that somehow being Mormon means that you’re super righteous. I can regale you with endless tales of RM’s I went out with who were slime balls. Then there is the whole issue of kids nowadays just hanging out. Which is what they do most of the time. My husband wants everyone to go on official dates, with fun activities planned. I think this would be a lovely idea but that isn’t practical all of the time. I remember just hanging out with boys I liked and I hardly think it’s the end of the world.
So here I am with a husband who is one step away from giving Tom’s girlfriend a scarlet letter A just because she doesn’t dress as modestly as a nice LDS girl would (theoretically. Sometimes it’s hard to find an LDS girl not wearing short shorts here in Texas.) But I generally like the boyfriend and girlfriend and think they are good people who are both spiritually-minded and not bad influences. I feel like it’s not a humongous deal, but my husband is convinced somebody is going to end up pregnant when all is said and done.
Am I supposed to go hard core and tell everyone that there will be no more hanging out? That they are only allowed to see each other if they are with a large group of people who are, say, going bowling? Not sitting around watching a movie? Is there no one-on-one dating allowed (I feel weird telling this to Betsy who is legally an adult but is super obedient and would probably comply.) The Church is largely mum on the issue. They say things like, “ask your parents or church leaders”. Or else they say things like, “maybe dating isn’t shouldn’t be part of your life right now.” Seriously? Too late for that!
If you were in my situation, what would you do?