Don’t know if anyone has heard of the documentary “Virgin Tales” (thanks LT for the link!). I cringed when I read the promo, not because it’s yet another Christian group thumping for chastity. I think we should teach our boys and girls to be extremely selective with whom they share their bodies. The reason I winced was this statement:
The two eldest daughters Lauren and Khrystian already found, married, and kissed their fairytale princes. Next in line is 20-year-old Jordyn who is desperate for a husband at her side and – like her own father, brothers or brothers-in-law: family-friendly, God-fearing, and good looking (“he has to be easy on the eyes”).
Did you get a little nauseated, too, at the words “fairytale princes” and “desperate for a husband”? And what exactly does the character trait “family friendly” mean? Does it mean the prospective prince is rated G? Or perhaps his bachelor pad is filled with toys and kid-sized furniture? Didn’t you wonder why the adjectives “smart, funny and compassionate” weren’t on the list of requirements?
Seems that some of us are teaching our kids all wrong. Fairytale princes and knights in shining armor aren’t real, of course. They’re characters from stories. We understand how silly these descriptive terms are when we substitute Batman or Superman or Jesus Christ for Prince Charming. Yes, they’re all cut from the same cloth: heroes and saviors. They save us from ourselves.
So some of us (and we know who they are) are raising our girls to look for an idealized version of a man who is willing to role-play until he gets tired of being a puppet, gets tired of pretending. It’s not real, and it’s not healthy.
This is a timely subject since we’re two weeks away from Halloween, where we will see many little girls dressed as princesses and fairies, and no doubt, a Miley or two. And the boys? Do they dress up as princes and sex objects? No, they are busy thinking about what they want to be in the future: firemen, police officers, doctors, pirates, axe murderers. (Ok and maybe even a Justin Bieber or two.) The princesses focus on their image; they will look pretty and wait. Wait to be saved from waiting while the boys focus on becoming, on making a contribution to the world.
Back to poor Jordyn, who is desperate for a husband at 20 years old, at a time when she should be finishing her education or vocational training. At 20, she shouldn’t be in an anxious search for someone to rescue or complete her, someone she will only think she knows, who fits her idealized version of spouse material. She should be searching for herself, working on her future, learning that no one is going to make her feel good until she feels good about herself and that no one will make her happy unless she is already happy.
This isn’t child’s play, though. I hear this lament often: he’s out there, my knight in shining armor, my prince charming. I wish I could say that I hear it from naïve young women, but 40-something women say this, too. (Usually accompanied by “and a good Christian man.) I have a feeling they’re going to be looking a long, long time.
An attorney friend of mine once asked me if I knew what the biggest cause of divorce was. I imagined money issues, infidelity, abuse. No, the single biggest cause of divorce he told me was people’s expectations. They get married expecting one thing (hello, fairy tale), and they get another (a mundane marriage).
Relationships, even the best of them, are work. We marry real people. Flawed people who, even with their flaws, are still beautiful and worthy of love. There is compromise, give and take, sacrifice. Always. No one is exempt, not even princes and princesses. But understanding these realities leads to the recognition and appreciation of the extraordinary joys of sharing life with another person.
Now. That’s enough about that. Should we tackle the goofy idea of “soul mate” next?