What I Want My Daughters to Learn from “The Bachelor”

My dearest daughters,

You may have heard of a television program called “The Bachelor” and its sister program “The Bachelorette”. Hopefully you haven’t actually seen them yet but since it appears the series has no intention of ending any time soon, you are bound to be exposed to it one day. If you can, avert your eyes and change the channel quickly. But if, like me, you find yourself in a weak moment and drawn in by the spectacle of 25 nice-enough-looking young ladies throwing off every shred of dignity and self-respect (and clothing!) in an effort to capture the affections of one questionably worthy young man, here are a few things to remember.

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1.  Men enjoy the chase. If you don’t believe me, ask your father. Most guys think the idea of 25 women vying for their attention would be a dream come true but the truth is most of them would get overwhelmed or bored by it. You don’t need to make it too easy for the guys you date when you reach dating age (around age 30 should be fine) but that doesn’t mean you should play hard to get either. There is a middle ground. If you’re interested, it’s fine to show it a little (does anyone remember the fine art of flirting?), but leave it at that and don’t fawn all over a guy. Let him earn your attention and it will mean more to him. Wait for HIM to call YOU and ask you out on a date, and let him make the arrangements. And you can bet that if he’s the type who wants all the ladies to come to him and make it effortless, he’s not going to have much ambition for anything else either. Like finding and keeping a job, for example.

(I’m aware that most teenaged boys are not entirely sure how dating works either and my “antiquated” ideas about it might mean you don’t go out much until you’re older. I’m OK with that.)

I’m also thinking about all those girls on The Bachelor who think it helps the relationship progress if they physically throw themselves at him. What if he doesn’t want to kiss you? You’re leaving him no graceful way to say “no”. How about you let him anticipate that first kiss for a little while instead? I think it says a lot about a girl’s opinion of men in general when she acts as though guys are all ruled by their sexual urges. Good men aren’t slaves to lust.

(side note: when I was a teenager my mother told me not to call boys. I thought that was a stupid rule. After all, if I didn’t call them they might not call me. I now know it’s not a stupid rule, and it’s the rule at our house. Blame Grandma.)

2.  Preserve some mystery. Yes, I’m going to talk about modesty because clearly no one on The Bachelor is familiar with the concept. I’m not going to talk about sex outside of marriage because you already know where our family stands on that issue and as soon as I say the word “sex” you’re usually so mortified that anything I say afterward gets lost in the shuffle.

Once upon a time it was considered scandalous for a lady to show her ankles. Apparently men in those days could not be trusted to contain their lust at the sight of a luscious pair of ankles, but luckily today’s men can handle themselves better. However, that’s no reason to let it all hang out, girls. Show some respect for your body and the people around you, and choose clothing that is appropriate. I’m not saying we should not be satisfied with our bodies or even a little bit proud of the way we’re taking good care of ourselves, but the world does not need to see all your goodies. Some things need to be left to the imagination, and those same areas need to be preserved for your husband and/or your gynecologist. Bachelor contestants, If the producers feel the need to put a little black rectangle over part of your body, that’s a sign. We don’t need to see all that. In general, girls, when in doubt cover it up.

The Bible tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Let’s treat them that way.

3.  Oversharing does not = closeness.  Oh girls. I cannot emphasize this one enough. Sometimes you meet someone and you either feel like you’ve known them forever or you want to know them forever, and you may feel the urge to share some intimate detail or story from your past to help you feel closer to each other. Don’t. In the beginning stages of a relationship, both of you are on a need-to-know basis. Someone who has been on one or two dates with you does not need or want to hear about the time you wet your pants during the class spelling bee or drove your car into a tree after your high school boyfriend broke up with you or that you can’t sleep unless all your spices are in alphabetical order. All of these facts do indeed shape who you are, yes, and I get that you think it will help them understand you. But people need to know you better before they can be trusted to properly handle such traumatic information. It doesn’t make you closer. It makes the hearer uncomfortable and the sharer look desperate. Bachelor ladies, the television viewers are squirming in their La-Z-Boys when you start spilling your guts prematurely. That’s called word vomit and it’s just as distasteful as it sounds.

4.  Jealousy is ugly. The very premise behind The Bachelor is designed to encourage jealousy, with certain girls getting picked for one-on-one dates and others feeling left out. There is always a time during each episode that finds the girls jockeying for position and trying to get “alone time” with the bachelor, and there’s always at least one girl who dissolves in tears because she didn’t get “her time” and she was coming over to talk to him and so-and-so got there first but she talked to him earlier already and it’s just not fair. Does this make her seem more attractive? No. When I met your father he was dating four other girls. All were just “friends” that he liked to go out and have fun with, but it would have been so easy for me to get jealous. I can only say it was through God’s power and not my own, but I decided that if he wanted to be with me, that’s where he would be and if not, then I didn’t need him. I had my moments for sure, however I didn’t let jealousy get a foothold and I figured if your Dad wasn’t the guy for me, God would send me someone even better. Because God is awesome like that.

5. Don’t waste your time together talking about other people. Ashley I., I’m looking at you. She whined and cried last week because she didn’t get her one-on-one time and then when she did, she spent half of it complaining about the other girls. Um, no. I don’t know about Bachelor Chris but whenever someone starts trash talking another person to me, I remember the words of Dr. Phil, “If they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you.” A person who will gossip about Susie to you will likely gossip about you to Susie. Don’t be that person. Don’t let other people be the subject of your conversation on a date.

Also, Ashley? By talking about all those other girls all you’re doing is reminding him how much more pleasant they were to be with because they weren’t whining about everyone else.

6.  Real love is not a game. Yes, The Bachelor is a game show of sorts with contestants and one hapless man as the prize, bless his heart. What viewers (like me) tend to forget is that these are real people (like me) with feelings and dreams and a whole back story that we don’t usually get to see. It’s easy to sit at home and pick these ladies apart – after all, they applied and competed to get on this show, ostensibly to win the heart of a man they’d never even met before. I don’t understand what drives that decision. But I hope you remember in years to come that when a boy asks you out on a date, he has feelings just like you do and if you aren’t interested in getting to know him there are kind ways to let him know. Let him keep his dignity and don’t dent his self-confidence, and likewise don’t pretend to like him if you really don’t because it wastes your time and his. Don’t let yourself get caught up in a game of trying to win someone’s attention if you aren’t really interested.

Sweeties, I don’t ever want you to look to television, especially not The Bachelor, for your idea of how a woman should behave. That’s my job, and if I’m doing it right you should be able to hear my voice over all the noise the world is making.

Love You Forever,

Mom

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One Word 365 2015: Finding my Focus

I’m just going to come right out and say it: my word for 2015 scares me. I guess I brought it on myself by praying for God to confirm one of the three or so words I had swirling in my head, and this was the one he brought into focus. Yeah, that’s right: FOCUS.

Thanks to the lovely www.tracimichele.com for my graphic!

Thanks to the lovely Traci at http://www.tracimichele.com for the graphic!

In all honesty I’ve gotten used to being a bit scattered. I think maybe I’ve been enjoying claiming that flightiness as part of my inborn personality, and maybe it is. But the hard truth is that if I had more FOCUS I could get more done and done well. It’s far too easy to play the “made that way” card as an excuse to get out of more grown-up and disciplined behavior. But God never meant for me to get stuck in some kind of “faith journey adolescence” and it feels like He’s calling me to step up my game in this way.

I take pride in my ability to multi-task. I may be writing this post right now but I’m also aware of the people in my house moving around, the television show in the next room (Jessie, again), and the next five things I need to get done (make breakfast, take a shower, finish cleaning my office, make more coffee, clean the cat litter) and I may or may not be pausing in between sentences to do some of those things. (not the cat litter though. Gross.) But multi-tasking is not my friend, people. Multi-tasking by its very nature means that each task is not getting the attention it deserves. If I took the time to focus on each job, maybe it would take less time to complete AND it would be done with more excellence. Maybe it’s possible to do it all, but you can’t do it all at the same time and do everything well. At least I can’t. And I’m not settling for “good enough” any more.

I’m also a dabbler. My Grandma used to tell me that I loved to start things but I never finished them, and while it made me mad when she said it, there’s some truth to that. I am prone to picking up new hobbies, for which I happily collect supplies and make plans, and then laying it all aside like yesterday’s newspaper when I find it’s not as easy or fun as it looked. My craft cabinets are tangible proof of the activities I’ve started and never completed. And with the surge in social media nowadays I am being exposed to all manner of projects that I otherwise might not have noticed. I can be scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook news feed and see that a friend has taken up Zentangles, for instance, and I start thinking that maybe THIS is the creative outlet I’ve been looking for. This dabbling is another one of those things I’d like to work on in 2015. Just because someone else does it doesn’t mean I need to jump on the bandwagon. I want to focus more on the forms of artistic expression that really capture my heart, because there is worship to be found there.

And then there’s this blog. I tend to write about whatever crosses my mind or heart, and that’s fine. But I need to spend a little time deciding what its purpose should be and maybe even capturing that purpose in a vision statement of some sort. There’s a part of me that really hates to be tied down and chafes at any sort of restriction on my creative impulses. However there’s a lot to be said for having some kind of guideline to keep me on the right path.

I tried on and rejected several other words for 2015: Intentional, Mindful, Simplify, Concentrate, Excellence, even Distill.  One of the finalists was Present, because I want to be fully present in whatever I’m doing, not halfway there. I examined words that would encompass what I felt God calling me to focus (yes, I meant to do that) on this year. In the end, FOCUS was the word that kept coming up over and over.

So while 2015 is fresh and new, my goal for the year is to learn how to FOCUS – to figure out what I’m really about and what I do best, and concentrate on those things.  To distill all the noise and details clamoring for my attention into what matters most. To really listen to what my husband and kids are saying. To stop trying to do ten things in a mediocre way all at one time and instead focus on one or two that I can do with excellence. To look for Him and listen for His voice. To remember what the ultimate goal is.

Begin with the end in mind.

One day at a time.

One step at a time.

Eyes on the prize, always.

In His everlasting goodness, God gave me a scripture passage to go along with 2015’s word:

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. – Philippians 3:12-16 (The Message)

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What about you? Do you participate in the One Word challenge? If so, what’s your word?