Thursday, May 19, 2011

Advice to my Daughter (And Taylor Swift)

My daughter turns 16 next month. That means (whether I want to admit it or not) she will be allowed to begin dating.

What things should I tell her to look for in a young man, or eventually what to look for in a potential spouse.

I have been listening to country music a lot lately. An excerpt of a recent interview from In Style magazine came to my attention. Taylor Swift was being interviewed about her romantic relationships. She has a whimsical (and rather immature) view of how she'll know when she has met Mr Right. Here is what she said in the interview, as quoted by The Boot (A Country Music Website):

"There are no rules when it comes to love. I just try to let love surprise me because you never know who you're going to fall in love with," she tells InStyle magazine. "You never know who's going to come into your life -- and for me, when I picture the person I want to end up with, I don't think about what their career is, or what they look like. I picture the feeling I get when I'm with them."

I really like Taylor Swift. She's a young, fresh talent, and she has been very successful. I worry about her though. I would suggest that there really are rules when it comes to love. Basically this is a whimsical, "let nature take its course", and "lets leave it up to fate", view of romantic relationships. There is no direction, nor set of parameters or guidelines to prevent her from crashing hard, and bringing a lot of misery on herself.

Since I have a daughter who is just about dating age, here is what I would say to her (and to Taylor Swift too, if she were my daughter.)

A person who is good.
For some reason, there are some young women who are attracted to "bad boys". Every girl should know that a "bad boy" is a bad deal. Eventually that bad boy will turn on you. Some girls may be looking for a little bit of edgy excitement to spice up their lives. However eventually the spice will turn habernero hot, and you will get burned.

What do I mean by a person who is good?
  • Integrity
  • Fidelity and Loyalty
  • Will abide by moral standards
  • Kindness
  • Respectfulness
  • Unselfishness
  • A willingness to work -- both to make a living, and to help out with the everyday labors of life (housework, shopping, cooking, cleaning, child care, etc.)
  • Loving and Affectionate (and will vocalize his love for you.)
  • Good Communication skills
  • Able to resolve differences in a mature and amicable way.
Qualities like these don't just happen by chance. You have to be looking for them. You need to associate with people who have these qualities. Avoid dating young men who do not have these standards. The truth is, you will eventually marry from among those who you date.

In short, look for someone who is committed to living according to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of the above qualities are in harmony with the Gospel. Obedience to the laws of God is the only way we will find true happiness.

Leaving romantic relationships all to chance, with no rules or guidelines will only lead to heartbreak and misery. Life (and eternity) is too precious to take unnecessary chances with such an important part of your life. And not only your own life, but potentially the lives of your children and posterity as well.

To quote Jacob in the Book of Mormon: "O be wise, what can I say more?"