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October 18, 2005 [ More archived home pages here ]

Possessions Of The Heart

Today's song is My Heart Belongs To Me by Barbra Streisand.

On this day in 1968, I came close to being caught in a situation that would have impacted my life very negatively. Only by the "Grace of God" was I able to avoid compounding the troubles I already had in my life at that time. It was a Friday in that year and that weekend was the Homecoming Weekend at colleges. Activities that my girlfriend and I engaged in that weekend shaped a lot of my thinking for part of my adult outlook later on in life. This story will be expanded further in my upcoming book, for now it is presented in this form.

Sometimes teenagers just do very risky and foolish things without thinking of the impact on them if something goes wrong. Twice that weekend we came close to having our plans of those few days turned into disaster. It was more than luck that kept us in the clear.

One positive thing that came from that weekend was hearing the philosophy of two elder parents whom I met only that one time. They were the parents of my girlfriend's college girlfriend. We ended up staying at their house on the Saturday night. Also staying there that night was the daughter of those parents and her fiance. I was astounded by the fact that they allowed their daughter to sleep with her fiance in their house! Their attitude was expressed to me when I asked them about that point. They said, "We'd rather have them know they are safe here in our house than out in a cheap motel someplace." Say what?

Even in the late 1960's such openness to pre-marital relationships was a shock to me. Then I began to understand that those parents really loved their daughter. They embraced her choices instead of trying to enforce some outdated and ineffective rules on her. I began to wonder why more parents didn't try to understand their children's situations and be supportive in their love relationships instead of trying to keep lovers apart. I can tell first-hand that whatever parents think they are preventing is mostly being end-run on them by their children when the time of "raging hormones" is nigh.

Now I'm not advocating promiscuity. Such behaviors have destroyed a lot of young lives either at the time or in later years when regrets come home to roost. As I said above, I and my girlfriend were lucky on several occasions that our lives didn't turn out differently.

What I do advocate is that parents be involved with their children as they grow. To form bonds of trust and love with them. To be there to provide advice in their late teenage years if they seek it. If a teenager is in love with another, find ways to be supportive not divisive of that relationship. If given the opportunity, explain the ramifications on their emotions of their actions. Talk to them as if they were 30 years old instead of teenagers.

I wasn't treated that way, neither were my girlfriends, nor the woman who became my wife. We all had to end-run our parents at too many turns. Too bad it wasn't different, a more positive set of experiences with parents instead of encountering disdain in a variety of forms.

When our daughter was born it was going to be different with her than it was for Sherry or I. We raised her to be respectful to herself and understand she is ultimately responsible for her conduct and life. We talked to her a lot while growing up, we listened to her even more. When she went off to college we knew she was a responsible young woman. We didn't interfere with her choices. We supported her relationship with the man who years later became her husband. As a result we don't have hard memories, we have loving good ones. They have been happily married now for over five years and working on starting a family.

I have to credit those elder parents of that girl from long ago for giving me a better example of how to deal with teenage love relationships than what was impressed upon me at home when I was growing up. They opened my young eyes and mind to a workable alternative without all the guilt and turmoil found in most young relationships. It paid-off for me and Sherry with our daughter and as a result it paid-off for her too.

When my grandchildren are raised I hope their parents remember this story from time-to-time. The process works because love and understanding forms the basis.

Hearts are important possessions. They are easily swayed and hurt so be careful with them. Don't forget who the heart belongs to...

Don


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