My daughter is only six years old, but she’s already in love with, well, love.
She doesn’t have a boyfriend and doesn’t want one, either (thank goodness). Yet she’s engrossed with the animated romances she sees on the big screen — that is, the ones that depict love in a fairy tale fashion. You know: Beauty and the Beast, Frozen and the like.
When the credits roll, you can almost see her heart melt as she discusses Anna and Kristoff or Rapunzel and Flynn or other famous make-believe couples. And it’s often accompanied by a dreamy-eyed “awwwwww.”
Thankfully, her current “knight in shining armor” is me, but the day is coming when she will catch the eye of a boy. And then a young man. And by then, her idea of romance will move beyond Disney cartoons. And if she’s influenced by the culture, that could be a concern. Why? Because society’s definition of romance is anything but biblical.
Take a look at the top-grossing romantic drama movies of all time. Titanic — a film full of stuff our grandparents would have called “scandalous” — is No. 1. Pearl Harbor — which has similar themes — is No. 2. The soft porn Fifty Shades trilogy ranks 4, 11 and 13. The Top 10 list of romantic comedies isn’t much better, littered with titles such as Sex and the City and Knocked Up.
If your daughter or my daughter are to grow up with positive romantic stories — that is, stories worth emulating — then it’s up to us, the parents. The Bible is full of such romances (Boaz and Ruth) and television has a few good ones, too (example: When Calls The Heart). There are even a handful of theatrical movies that are appropriate for teens (try Forever My Girl or Old Fashioned).
But for my daughter, I wanted to start closer to home. I wanted her to know about how Mommy and Daddy met. Thus, on a recent date night to McDonald’s, I gave her an abridged version of our courtship. Perhaps it wasn’t as exciting as an Amish romance novel, but I did elicit a few squeals — and an “awwwwww,” too.
Here are three reasons I did that:
1. It gives her a real romantic story. And one that’s real. Let’s face it: Many of today’s fictional romances have confused love with lust. The rest of them do just the opposite: They show us puppy love and then a beautiful wedding, but rarely the hills and valleys of a marriage. With the former, we get lust without love. With the latter, we get love without realism. By telling my daughter her Mom and Dad’s courtship story, she will see a romance played out in the real world — with hugs and kisses and flowers but also with disagreements and discussions and resolutions. And she’ll be better prepared for her own marriage.
2. It gives her a positive romantic story. And one that’s not rated R. Of course, not every couple’s courtship story is Hallmark material or even rated PG, but every couple does have a chapter from their love story they can share with their kids. Perhaps it’s a tale about how Mommy and Daddy met, or about how they got engaged, or about what they wore on their wedding day. My children have heard multiple times about how I got my wife’s phone number at a Billy Graham crusade. My boys often shrug off the story. But my daughter? She eats it up.
3. It gives her a story she will treasure for life. Too often, adult children wait until their parents are elderly before they begin asking details about their life. And by then, memories have faded. That’s tragic, because the best romantic stories are the ones that involve tales of overcoming obstacles, loving each other through the good times and bad, and persevering to the end. They’re the “till-death-do-us-part” stories our society desperately needs. And every one of those stories had a beginning.
— Michael Foust