From the moment my daughter was born, there was a drum beat somewhere in the background. When she was young, it was barely perceptible, but as she has gotten closer to dating age, the drums have grown louder. The same, infernal beat: boys… boys… boys…. It was a source of stress and trouble I have tried in vain to forestall as long as possible. Then, this year, along came The Boy. As boys go, The Boy is a good’un. He is polite, respectful, devout, comes from a good family, is smart, funny, athletic, and the ladies of the house tell me he is good-looking. If I had to pick one, I’d pick The Boy. That doesn’t mean I’d pick one. If it were up to me, this story would sound a lot like Rapunzel. But this story is not Rapunzel; it’s Jumanji.
Why Jumanji? Because once this game starts, there’s no way to stop it. It ain’t over until someone puts a ring on a finger and says the magic words… “I do.” And now, the die has been cast and the game has begun. Except it’s not a game. There are life-altering consequences for every step and misstep. As an attorney in the criminal justice system, I won’t let my mind delve into the true worst case scenarios, but let’s just say underage premarital sex and unwed pregnancy are up there. The journey my daughter has begun with The Boy has started us down a long road full of pitfalls and unexpected turns. I was not ready to begin this journey just yet, but here we are. Can’t stop Jumanji until it’s over.
My biggest source of fear for my beautiful and intelligent daughter and The Boy comes from the knowledge of how long a path they’re on, and how tempting it is to race further down it. My fears only increase when I consider the many well-intentioned young people I know who came from good families and had strong Christian upbringings and knew and professed the right things but who ultimately succumbed to temptation. I will be gently and not so gently impressing upon them that their continued ability to stay on the path together depends on staying right where they are on this path, and NO FURTHER. They will have oversight, guidance, chaperoning and we will help them to see each other and develop their friendship, but if I get the slightest whiff of an attempt to avoid oversight, to have private and clandestine interaction, that will be it for a while. Lose a Turn. We will protect you from yourselves whether you like it or not. We are the guardrails until you can develop your own.
And you must. The idea is that, although you may be able to resist temptation, it is better to avoid it altogether. You know how not to fall off a cliff? Don’t go near the edge. Don’t put yourself in situations where your only defense to temptation is your own self-control. Set up guardrails. (More below).