I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was in college. And even then it was the weirdest, least traditional dating relationship you’ve ever seen and most of you wouldn’t have even recognized it as such. I’ve never bought new clothes for a boy, curled my hair, and run downstairs to the doorbell for a date. That particular detail I do regret a little bit, though other things – like prom – I’ve just about come to terms with.
And the thing is, I wasn’t just a Joshua Harris girl because I was forced to be. I actually believed in it. Joshua Harris – the guy in this picture – the guy who convinced teens all across America to swear off casual dating and actually any sort of dating at all until a point at which we were absolutely certain we were mature enough, stable enough, and ready enough to get married in the very near future at which time we could pursue careful, highly accountable courtship with a person in our affections. That guy.
There’s a whole lot I like about the Joshua Harris principles, but I don’t really intend to start a conversation about it in terms of 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds, or people in college. It’s the fifth graders I’m worried about. It’s TEN-YEAR-OLDS who compelled me to my makeshift bookshelf today – above the dryer – to pull out the first tier of favored books and search the second of lesser faves for this book, I KISSED DATING GOODBYE, so that I can read it again and remind myself of all those principles so I can help my very young child face the constant, daily pressure to attach himself to a girl. Constant. Daily. Pressure.
Fifth graders of America, there’s a better way. It keeps your options open for a really long time. It keeps the road behind you from being littered with broken hearts – even tiny ones, even yours. It keeps you from having to say, “It’s not working” before you’re even old enough to watch the movies that teach you that. It keeps you from having to say “It’s not working” for a really, really long time. It makes it so that the only games in your life are kickball, football, and whatever’s new on Play Station. It lets you change your mind. Over and over again without anyone having to know and judging you for it or getting their feelings hurt because it happened. It lets you have a good, old-fashioned crush and leave it at that until you’re old enough to take the crush somewhere and see if it has a future, a term you can actually consider at that point because you’ll finally be old enough for the future to mean something more than tomorrow after recess.
I’m not saying the Joshua Harris method is for everyone all the time. I don’t expect it to be for my kids even as long as it was for me. All I’m saying is, fifth grade? Seriously? It’s just way, way too early for a breakup. And I know one, extremely painless, sure-fire way to stay away from those. Insert title here.