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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When is too old - too old?

I read a story today about a 16 year old girl who married her 26 year old boyfriend of 2 years. Yes, she was 14 when her FATHER set her up with this "boy" and now her father has signed for her to marry him. Hmmm. Made me think.

I couldn't even think about dating until I turned 16. I guess my parents (and my friends parents) thought if I'm old enough to drive, I should be old enough to date but not until then. Our parents gave us a strict 12-month leeway as to the age of any potential suitors.

When my daughter became a teenager, I allowed her to double and group date when she was 15 with a 2 year leeway - provided I knew the kids AND parents involved. We maintained the 2 year leeway until she had moved out of the house.

I understand that girls normally mature at a faster pace than boys do BUT that doesn't take into consideration the fact that boys mature SEXUALLY faster than girls do. That being said, I think the 2 year rule is on the fringe of being too large a gap.

I can't imagine when my daughter was 14 allowing her to date someone 24 especially hooking her up with him!! My goodness! Of course, she would never go out with anyone I hooked her up with anyway (Monks with a strict vow of celibacy can't date).

When I worked for customs, our departmental secretary had a lovely daughter who was 13. When I met her, I swear to you I thought she was her 20 year old sister. She was physically matured as well as socially and emotionally matured WELL beyond her years. We spoke at great length during a reception once and her goal in life was to marry, have a houseful of children and be a home maker. An admirable and tough job to want. Her mother introduced her to a Saudi Prince when she was just 13 years old and they married when she was 14. I vacillated between being appalled and being happy for her as the Prince she married was such a nice young man (he was 18), had been educated in America and was very "Americanized". The last I heard of her was about 10 years or so ago. She and the Prince were still married, living in Atlanta and had 5 or 6 kids. From all accounts a very happy family. What are the odds?

However, she is an anomaly. When a person (male or female) is 13, 14, even 18 their idea of life and what they want to do with it is vastly different than when they become 20, 25 or 30. What we cherish and love at 13 is certainly not what we cherish and love when we are 30. When I was 13 I listened to Bobby Sherman and Bobby Goldsboro (OH MY GOD!!) I still have their albums and recently I (tried) to listen to them and it absolutely was like someone was dragging their fingernails across a chalkboard! YEOW!

A parents job is to protect their children - even from themselves. This is not a popularity contest. We most of the time, are NOT popular. But it's part of the job and something that we have to do IF we love our kids. I have lived long enough to have both of my children thank me individually for protecting them from themselves at some point in their lives. Trust me, it was not an easy job. However, it has to be done. We have to endure the crying, the fit pitching, the threats of running away, the silent treatment (if we're lucky) because we, as adults, know that they will get over it and move on to the next really big important crush of their lives and the one that caused all the commotion will be a distant thing of the past.

My first really big crush was with a boy named Mike who was my band director's nephew. I LOVED him with all my heart!! I wanted to marry him and live with him forever!! I wrote his name in ALL of my books and day dreamed about him constantly. My daddy wouldn't have any of it (I was 13 or maybe 14) and daddy didn't know his parents (they lived in Dyess Arkansas which was about 30 miles or so away). PLUS he was 15 (a much older man). I pouted and whined (as much as I thought I could get away with) but my daddy stood his ground and I thought he was the meanest most horrible person in all the world!! But after that summer was over, I met my next true love, Steven and Mike was a distant memory. Years later, I discovered that Mike became a hardened drug addict and eventually committed a double homicide landing him in prison with a life sentence. Boy am I glad my daddy stood his ground.

Then I see folks like Paul Anka (67) and his 40 year old wife. They recently had a row resulting in stitches for Paul. What do these folks talk about? What do they listen to on the radio? I understand being married to a billionaire who is nearly 30 years your senior is vastly different than being married to a retired teacher 30 years your senior but still, 30 years???? To me that's gross! Male or female, it's gross. But at least when you're 40, you can marry whomever you please - but not when you're 14.

Ever notice you never see or hear about common folks doing this? I have yet in my lifetime to see a 40 year old waitress marry a 67 year old man who lives off his social security. I guess money does put a rose tint on the glasses of love.

At any rate, my opinion of any parent who would pimp their daughter out as I believe this father did, to be extremely low. Of course, I don't know these people and shouldn't make assumptions about any of them - but then again, I probably wouldn't approve if I did.

But that's just me.

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