Kiddos do not stay little for long.
Even when they’re young and still ours to hold, they begin maturing away from us one small step at a time.
Boys notice girls. Girls notice boys.
We parents give them The Talk. Which, as it turns out, is the easy part.
The hard part is the talking and talking and talking after that, because while mechanics are one thing, relationships are another. We parents have been at relationships for decades, which has helped us do one thing: take the ironclad guidance we planned to pass on to our kiddos and accidentally prove most of it wrong.
Wherein, we dust off our Bibles and hope to spot somebody with more wisdom on this subject than the tried and not-so-true platitudes that we’d rather not see our kiddos repeat.
Somebody like Hannah.
Hannah was an Old Testament Jewish woman who could not conceive. However, she determined to pray and pray and pray for a child anyway.
And her husband respected her wishes.
So begins our first relationship tip a la Hannah which goes like this:
Tip #1: Expect respect.
Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, loved her. (1 Sam 1:5) He said she need not to worry about her inability to conceive, which sounds nice!
At that time, men were everything and women were second-class citizens to them. Hannah could have acquiesced, grateful Elkanah was so gracious! Mainstream culture tends to tell one so.
However, Hannah’s God, now and forevermore, does not. Elkanah’s affection, though kind and generous, was no replacement for Hannah’s pursuits. This, we must download into our kiddos.
Dear cherubs, you have a lot to do! The people you partner with should respect where you are headed. Don’t let a sweet Elkanah talk you out of it.
Indeed, Elkanah meant well. His affection could have been considered supportive. However, when said support is a suppression or a concession, that is not support. Wherein we hit tip number two.
Tip #2: Report support.
Knowing how to support one another is actually hard. You have to explain what you need.
Hannah did. She told Elkanah what she needed. Elkanah supported her in ways that he could, telling her, “Do what seems best to you.” (1 Sam 1:23)
Meanwhile, Hannah did not confuse support with laying undo responsibility on Elkanah for her dream. It was hers to do and pursue, even when the going got rough, even when a priest thought she was drunk and batty, even when the whole thing made her…cry.
Which brings us to tip number three.
Tip #3: Count on God.
You are going to need a hand.
Dear little cherubs, in this life, you are going to need a hand.
And a beloved “amore”, respectful and supportive and wonderful though they may be, will not be enough.
Only God is God. It was only God who could answer Hannah’s prayers (which He did!) or redirect her to a new dream (which He did for others in the Bible), and also it is only God who can fill in a lot of unpleasant gaps that are hard to put into words.
Yet, kiddos hitting double digits start to get the idea.
Actually, kiddos often have a good idea long before that. This is earth, not heaven, even for littles as they grow.
Therefore, our tips-list might be better turned upside down. Like this:
1. Learn how to count on God. It takes practice, experience and a God who is real.
2. Learn about yourself. Learn how to ask for what you need and how to support others who have asked for what they need.
3. Respect your journey. Believe you have a calling. Respect that others do too.
If Hannah, with no power or prestige or political clout, and Elkanah, rejecting mainstream culture in favor of his wife’s prayer could pull all that off, then so too can you.
Dear kiddos, see where we are going with this thing? Romance is sweet and adorable and by all means, let your little blossoming selves consider the delight it was created to be.
Just know, it’s a lot of work.
And if your disastrous room is any indication of your current worldview on consistent, tenacious, stick-to-it hard labor, then maybe give romance a beat or two. You’ve got time.
Sometime after grad school sounds good to us parents. Just saying.
Janelle Alberts writes pithy Bible synopses and is a regular contributor to Christianity Today's Gifted for Leadership. Find out more about Alberts here.