Their health book didn’t specifically say, “Go out to a favorite Mexican restaurant and talk this over with your parents,” but that’s what we did anyway.

Bookgirl and Gamerboy had reached the section in their health book that talked about relationships—both friendship and girl-boy. Darren thought it would be a good idea to discuss it in person, to open up the conversation about our own experiences and our dating standards for the family.

Sounds good, right? But as we explained over fresh tortilla chips and salsa…we’re really fuzzy on what our “dating standards” are.

We both entered adulthood as adherents to courtship (a term familiar to most of our generation of homeschoolers), but with two very different perspectives. Darren grew up with the message: Romance is wonderful. Wait for it. In contrast, the message I learned was: Romance is dangerous and possibly bad. Put it off as long as you can. 

Now we’ve got a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old. We want to give them that affirming, positive message, but still draw clear boundaries. How do we communicate that? Darren and I thoroughly enjoy being each other’s first and last romance. But it’s good and natural to like others before you meet your lifelong love. But it’s best not to try to act on your feelings until you’re mature and ready to handle it. But it’s not like we’re going to forbid you from talking to the person you like. But we don’t want you going out on exclusive dates while you’re still young. But it’s not that it’s bad to want to get to know somebody…

Sigh. Pass the chips and salsa, please.

Darren and I explained to our kids that we’ll all have to figure it out together. “We’re still in charge,” we said. “So what we say goes. But we won’t come down with a decision quickly. We won’t make you obey just because. We want to talk and understand and keep things open.”

So in one evening, we took care of all the kids’ relationship problems! If only. Darren and I definitely see the appeal of a systemized romantic formula. But we also know that part of adulthood is making your own decisions and trusting your own judgment. Life is too complicated to make guarantees.

What I hope we did was create a good memory with our kids — one to hold onto when things get rocky on their path to adulthood.

The chips and salsa were really good, too.