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That’s What My Mom Said: Hand-Me-Down Dating Advice

by Kristie Vosper

If you’re anything like me, you’ve grown up reflecting on the things your parents taught you. These gems of wisdom are their legacy. They’ve sewed good seeds into the soil of our lives. I can hear mine saying:

“Kristie, be nice.”
“Take turns. There is enough for everyone.”
“Say you’re sorry like you mean it.”
“It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it that made me mad…”

As I grew older, their advice went deeper into the heart-and-soul matters of dating and friendship. I remember standing in the kitchen with my friend Heather Stage one summer night after youth group. We were 15 or 16, having one of our many summer slumber parties when my mom came in and heard us talking about boys. No surprise.

We were frustrated that one of our friends had fallen in love with a “bad boy.” To these gossiping girls, my mom said something I’ll never forget—a bit of wisdom that has been so useful to me as I discern and date men who ask me out. She said:

“Be careful who you date. Choose wisely while you still have your head on your shoulders. Once you’ve fallen in love, it will be very very hard to walk away.”

Simple and true. Oh-so-painfully true. It’s good to watch, listen deeply, and ask good questions before you let your heart float away and take your life down a road that isn’t best for you. Men usually tell you who they are in the first few dates. Listen for it. If they say “You’re too good for me,” they are probably telling you the truth.

The other piece of advice I remember came when I started dating one of my serious-relationship boyfriends. I didn’t think he was cool enough. I didn’t like his haircut or his clothes. These were my reasons for being unsure if I wanted to take our dating relationship to the next level. It was pretty shallow.

He was sweet, kind, a gentleman, intelligent, driven, funny, and quickly becoming my best friend; but I was 21 years old and coolness was still at the top of my list. My mom was not thrilled with my shallow musings, and she quickly put me in my place:

“Kristie, you can teach a man to do his hair and you can change a man’s style of clothes, but you cannot teach a man to love a woman or change his heart. If you find a man with a kind heart who knows how to treat you well, don’t be shallow and dismiss him because of these silly things.”

I’m not advocating that you control your man and tell him what to wear and neither is my mom (well I won’t speak for her…my dad has been known to wear some pretty odd combos). This is the truth: the most important thing to search for is a man with a kind heart. A good man is worth more than gold. He is precious and to be valued, not judged for his shoes.

What bits of wisdom do you carry with you that have been passed on from older women? Are you listening to the wise women around you?

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