The Five Reasons We Allow You to Date

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Dear Daughter,

It’s been challenging for you lately, and I know that.  You’re young, and you think you’re in love, and I think it’s wonderful.  You’re growing and learning and figuring out who you are and what you want in life, and I have no problem with you having a partner who cares about you to help you figure that out.  I also know that there are others who disagree and some, young and old, who are giving you a hard time about it.  I appreciate you telling them that I allow you to date and that they can take it up with me; and I know we’ve talked about this, but I’d like to make sure that you fully understand why I allow you to date because it’s a privilege, one that I feel is very important for the healthy development of your mind, body, and spirit.  

As you know, I’ve been given a fair share of advice from others about how to handle the ‘dating situation.’  In fact, it’s a topic that has come up among friends and acquaintances many times, and  often, it becomes an admonishment on me for allowing you and your sisters to date.  This is something that I pray about a lot and your father and I talk about a lot, and while we don’t have all of the answers or make all of the right decisions, we try our best.  We have our reasons for the things we do and allow, very good ones we believe, and you should know what they are.  I’m not setting out to tell the parents of your friends or even your teachers what is right or wrong, but I do want you to know why I have made some of the choices I have in regards to you.  

I have been told, “High school children belong with their families and not out on dates. They have plenty of time for that in college and beyond.”  Interesting thought, but I have another take.  I have heard, “Teens are not mature enough to handle dating.”  No argument from me about maturity, but I’ll get to that.  Recently, you told me that an adult told you, “The purpose of dating is to have sex, so if you’re not planning on getting married and having children in the immediate future, then you should not be dating.”  Uh-huh.  I have lots to say about that one, but let me begin with the least of the reasons why I allow you to date.

5. You’re learning the Ropes.  Your high school years are all about preparing for your future.  You will need to develop good study habits, learn time management, become skilled at balancing school and a job, and become adept at standing up for yourself and your beliefs.  Along with those things, I want you to also prepare for the dating scene.  What is proper behavior on a date?  Where are acceptable locales?  What is the proper dress? This may all sound silly to you, but seriously, these are important questions and not just old-fashioned ideas.  I want to know that when you leave the house with a boy, you know what is acceptable and what is not and what should be expected or not (by and from both of you).  And I want those values and rules coming from me, not from your college roommate.

4. Dating is part of growing.  It is part of figuring out what you want in a future spouse.  That does not mean that you have to marry the first boy who asks you to a dance.  If means that you are learning what it feels like to be asked to a dance, to hold hands, and yes, even to kiss (cue the gasps).  It also means that you are learning about mutual respect.  Does he open the door for you? Is he attentive to you in conversations?  Does he put your needs and desires first?  Is he able to compromise?  Does he respect your wishes, your values, your family and friends?  If the answer is no, then move on!  He was not the right one, but it’s okay to try again.  Would you buy a pair of shoes without making sure that they fit, that they work with your wardrobe, that they’re comfortable and make you feel good?  Dating is no different but far more important.

3.  You need to see him with his mom and yours.  Dating in college is very much a social endeavor.  You will go to parties, night clubs, football games, and dances, much like you are doing in high school, but you will be doing it on your own time, with your own friends, and without your family tagging along, so there are things that you will miss, important things that won’t be revealed to you.  For example, how does he treat his mom?  Is he kind to her, loving, respectful?  Does he help out around the house?  Does he like being with his family?  And, in a way, more importantly, does he like being with yours?  Is he kind and respectful to your parents?  If he never wants to spend time with your family, then I have to ask why?  Is he selfish?  Is he all about what he wants and not what you want?  And on a darker note, is he possessive?  Is he violent?  Does he try to drive a wedge between you and your family?  Remember, when you meet the right one, he will become a part of our family.  Is he willing to do that?  Dating in high school is about blending your family life with your dating life, and that’s an extremely important facet of being a couple.  Learn to do it early and to do it well.

2.  Maturity is learned not inherited.  If I had kept you in the nursery until your eighteenth birthday  and then suddenly set you free in the world, would you think I was crazy?  Would you know how to manage on your own without any prior knowledge?  Of course not!  And dating should be no different.  You can’t grow and properly mature without experience.  You need to learn how to behave in public and in private.  You need to know how to set limits, how to compromise, and how to say no.  Everything you do as you are growing up affects what you do and how you act when you are on your own.  But you need to recognize that you are still growing, still learning, still maturing until, scientists say, the age of 25.  So there will be limits set on you while you’re at home–curfews, acceptable places to go, and acceptable people to be a part of your life.  If we say no, the answer is no, but we will always explain to you why.  And hopefully the ‘why’ will stick with you and help you mature into a person who makes good choices.

1.  The world is a scary place, but I’ve got your back.  You will be put into uncomfortable situations.  You will be faced with circumstances that you may not know how to handle.  You will have questions, and fears, and will make mistakes.  And I want to be there the first time you do, the first time you come face to face with the ugly side of dating.  I want to be sitting on your bed with you when you’re crying after your first broken heart.  I want to be behind the wheel when you need someone to come get you because you don’t feel safe.  I want you to crawl in my bed at night because you’re upset and need your mom.  I want you to go off to college with a past, not a reputation, but a past in which you learned how to spot a nice boy, how to say no, how to get yourself out of a bad situation, how to dress and act on a date, and how to know if he’s the right man.  

The dating world has changed a lot in the past thirty years.  You all do things differently and at a much faster pace than we did.  But to be in the right kind of relationship, make the right decisions, and figure out who the right mate is, you need guidance, and I’ve only got four short years to be that guide.  But know this, even when you are on your own, when you have questions, or when you make mistakes, I will always be here.  I will always be praying for you.  I will always be your mom.  Even when you are grown and go home to someone else.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

Learning from the Past, Changing for the Future

10-pics 5October 19, 1988 began like any other day.  I was a Freshman in college, and I had a full day of classes.  The morning went as usual, lunch was spent with friends, and then I moved on to my 1:00pm American Lit class.  During the class, I was suddenly overcome with the most intense feeling of grief.  It was all I could do not to cry, a feeling which many students studying Ahab’s quest for the mighty white whale may have felt, but one which I couldn’t logically explain at the time.  For the rest of class, I had a hard time concentrating.  All of my thoughts were consumed by the knowledge that my grandfather was starting chemo that day and the belief that something had gone terribly wrong.  After class, I reported to my job at the campus library and began shelving books.  Not too long after arriving at work, I looked up to see my roommate and one of my best friends from high school heading toward me, their expressions giving away their mission.  

“Your Dad called,” was all I needed to hear.  

“I know,” I told my roommate.  “I knew the moment it happened.  My grandfather is gone.”  I remember collapsing in her arms but remember little else about the following few days.  One thing that I will never forget is hearing the number 400 over and over again.  That’s how many people joined in the procession that took us from the funeral home to the church.  Police were at every intersection.  Traffic lights flashed rather than turned, and cars pulled off the road to pay their respects to a man who was known and loved far and wide by every person he ever met.

When my grandfather called a girl, a young lady, or a woman, “sweetheart,” there was no hidden meaning, no sexual undertone, nothing sexist or bigoted.  There was only admiration and respect.  And the females loved him because he made them all feel special.  It wasn’t a lewd thing.  It was an appreciation for them and for what they represented–wives, mothers, waitresses, nurses, teachers, business women.  He opened doors and tipped his hat.  He was a true gentleman, and everyone who knew him respected him for that.

It has long been rumored that our family has Indian blood in it, and one look at Granddad during the summer months always convinced me of the rumor’s truth.  His rich copper-colored skin soaked up the sun, and his incredibly thick, white hair, once jet black, made his baseball cap sit high upon his head.  I’m not sure I ever saw him happier than when he was outside working his fields or steering his boat.  Except when he was with his family.  There was nothing more important to my grandfather than his family.  The love he poured onto all of us was apparent to all.  He was a provider, a loving husband, father, and grandfather.  He was a loyal friend, someone who never turned his back on anyone no matter their color, religion, or status in life.  He was a man of high moral character and integrity who went to church, volunteered in his parish and community, and counted his friends by the hundreds.  

He was also a hard worker.  Granddad was a civilian employee at Patuxent River Naval Base, but he was also a farmer and a boatbuilder.  When he retired from the base, he added waterman to his list of occupations.  He planted gardens, both for food and for beauty.  He built boats, furniture, houses, and anything else that struck his fancy, and he built them to last (I still own and use furniture that he built with his own hands).  At some point in his life, he took up photography and meticulously put together album after album of family memories.  In his sixties, he took up winemaking.  At seventy, he not only quit smoking but quit growing tobacco.  His decision to stop smoking and stop promoting the habit gave him a new lease on life, but it was a short lease.  Unbeknownst to him, cancer had already made its home in his lungs.

I’ve taken you on this trip down memory lane not only because Granddad is on my mind today but because he is what we are missing in this world.  We should all be striving every day to be like Buck Morgan and to raise our children to be like him–to respect everyone; to treat everyone as if they matter; to love our friends, family, and God with all our hearts, and to show that love at all times; to open doors and tip hats; to work hard without asking for more; to live within our means; to go to church and understand that it’s the least we can do as children of God; to smile at everyone; to make each moment count; and to never be afraid to try new things, make new friends, achieve a new goal, or search for a higher purpose. 

Once the dust clears from this awful election, I pray that we can return to civility.  I pray that we all recognize what we’ve become and vow to stop this plague from spreading.  Let’s all try to live lives of charity, love, respect, honor, and goodness.  Let us all, within our own families, plant gardens, harvest fields, build lasting memories, and raise a generation that appreciates what it has, works hard to have a better life, and understands the things that matter.  I  believe we owe it to ourselves, our children, and our past generations.  I also believe that it’s never late to try.  My grandfather would agree.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

America, Our Ship is Sinking

DSC09204-001I write today’s blog with a heavy heart.  A great feeling of gloom and despair has settled into my soul, and I can’t seem to shake it.  And when I look around me, I see that same despair on the faces of so many people.  We’re all just barely holding on.  We all look like Rose as she let go of Jack’s hand and let him sink into the icy waters in the glow of the last lights on the sinking Titanic.  We are the survivors with little hope of being rescued.  Yet it isn’t the political plight of the country that upsets and worries me the most.  It’s all of the other things that we are losing in the process.

Every day I see another post on FaceBook where someone is lamenting about all of the people he or she was forced to ‘de-friend.’  I hear conversations in public about people who will no longer speak to or associate with other people because of their political views.  I’ve had arguments within my own family that I deeply regret.  One party cries sexual assault while another cries rape, and the people are just crying for peace.  The “p” word has been used and referred to more times in mainstream media and online in the past few days than I ever wanted to hear throughout my whole life, and now it’s something my girls have to hear every day.  I’m just sick of it.  When are we all going to grow up?  When are we going to demand better for ourselves, our country, and our children?

There is a clash of wills going on in every community, every church, every home, every family.  We have become savages who can only articulate (and I use the word very loosely) by yelling and screaming and insisting that one person is right when the reality is, everybody is wrong.  Is that what the ‘Great Experiment’ is really all about?  Brother against brother, father against son, mother against daughter?  Didn’t we fight that battle already?  Didn’t we lose 620.000 people in a battle to save our country from bigotry, segregation, hatred, and fear?  Why are we still fighting it every day in our streets, in our media, and in our homes?  What is wrong with the people of this country that we can’t make the tiniest attempt to find the good in our neighbors instead of only seeing the bad?  And on top of that, we actually make an effort to search out and dig up only the worst!

Since the writing of the Constitution, we have come ten steps forward and fifteen steps back.  There are too many who think only of themselves instead of reaching out to lend a hand to others.  There are too many who see the color of one’s skin and can’t see the makeup of the soul.  There are too many who talk about fighting for justice but support a system that is anything but, that allows people of different colors, backgrounds, or economic status to be held to a different standard.  The same people who talk about reform and rehabilitation, won’t allow education in prisons.  The same people who preach tolerance, spew hate.  The same people who claim to want all people held accountable for their actions will hide and cheat and steal to cover up their own crimes.  Am I talking about a political party, the current candidates, the Republican establishment, or the Democratic Administration? Yes, yes, yes, and yes – all of them, and all of us.  Because the problem didn’t begin with the politicians, and it doesn’t end with them either.

Let’s stop bashing each other, stop spewing hate, stop objectifying women (in ANY and ALL ways), stop seeing the color of skin, stop teaching our children that it’s okay to be a bully, to always have the last word, to never allow topics to be open for discussion, that what ‘I want’ matters more than what ‘we need.’  Stop the de-friending and start being a friend.  Let’s look for common ground, find what’s wrong and fix it, find what’s right and expand upon it.  We’re in real trouble, folks.  There’s talk about taking up arms.  I’ve seen posts saying that neither candidate, if elected, will survive their first term (literally).  There are those (in both parties) who are sending up a rally cry for revolt.  But you argue, haven’t we come so far that these things are just farfetched and unreasonable?  One look at the dirty, disgusting, disparaging, and vitriolic rhetoric on social media at any given time says that we are not.  For the sake of our families, our country, and our world, let’s put an end to this hatred.  And let’s start within our own homes and on our own streets.  Our ship is sinking.  Let’s find a way to hold on and make it through this dark night.  And let’s pray that help is on the horizon.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

Nine Reasons Why Saying Yes is Not a Weakness

13680532_1624096637883343_9030708877592774291_nCall it what you may, but saying yes, giving of my time and talents, taking on too many tasks, is not a weakness. I’ve had this argument more than once with family and friends, and each time, I leave the conversation thinking that I was not successful in getting across why I continue to say yes. No, I don’t have an irrational desire to please nor am I insecure and unable to stand up for myself. I have a deep-in-my-soul belief that I was meant to serve. There are those who, I know, think I’m crazy. Sometimes, even I think that. But then there are the times that reaffirm my calling in resonating tones.

This past Sunday, the Gospel reading ended with the line, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.” Our priest told us that each of us is called to do service here on Earth. He said that we are not meant to spend our lives being waited on or watching others do work. We are meant to pitch in, do our share, and contribute to society whenever and however we are needed. Everything that I have ever believed about serving others was summed up so loudly and clearly that I wanted to turn to everyone around me and shout, “See, I’m only doing what I was meant to be doing.”

While others may benefit from my service, I know that, ultimately, I am the one who is achieving the greatest reward. Here are my reasons for believing this and what I have learned in the process:

  1.  Discovering Strengths: I am a master at organization. Give me an event, and I can plan it down to the smallest details. I can find the right people, give the right directions, and orchestrate the affair without letting any complication, large or small, dictate its success. But there are things I am not good at, and that’s okay. I have discovered what I can do and what I cannot. I consider that a gift and a blessing.
  2. Admitting Weaknesses: I do know when to quit, when to say no. In fact, I said no last week. I was asked to be part of a capital campaign and solicit money for a good cause. For a very good cause. For a cause near and dear to my heart. But I’ve been there and done that. And I learned that I am not good in that role. I am not comfortable in that role, but I know that there are others who are. There are others who are called to do that, Just as there are others who are called to direct plays, do bookkeeping, and maintain gardens. All things that I’ve been asked to do at one time or another and either knew or learned the hard way that they are beyond my capabilities.
  3. Joy is a Beautiful Thing: Whether it is planning a week-long summer camp or an all-night after prom party, I delight in seeing everything come together in a way that brings happiness and joy to the participants. Seeing their faces, hearing their stories, and watching them have fun, makes all of the hard work and countless hours more than worth it.
  4. My soul is satisfied: Few things in life feel better than the success or accomplishment of great tasks. It’s not about self-aggrandizement. It’s about self-discovery, self-growth, and self-satisfaction. It wouldn’t matter to me if no other person in the world knew that I was behind an event. I know it, and it feels good to see something I’ve worked on go the way that I hoped and prayed it would.
  5. But it’s not about what I have to offer: It’s about what we can accomplish together. It’s about bringing together a group of individuals and helping each of them to find their strengths, encouraging them to use their talents, and inspiring in them and others the passion to serve. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”15NNY1_0771-001
  6. My children are learning to lead: They are not learning to be pushovers but to plan, to accept their strengths and their shortcomings, and to serve others. I once had someone say to me that I was doing my children a disservice because they would grow up to be women who couldn’t say no, who took on too many tasks. At first, I worried about this, but then I watched my children come to their own realizations about what they can do and how much they can handle. They understand what it means to stay committed to something, what it takes to lead, and when it’s necessary to back down or say no.img_2705
  7. There is no obstacle too large to overcome: Often, we hear about mountains being in the way of success. We can climb over them, go around them, tunnel through them, or turn around and go back the way we came. I am a big believer in finding those ways to get to the other side of the mountain. If there’s a will, there’s a way, right? It’s often my mantra, and I’ve never found it to be untrue. The acclaimed surgeon, Ben Carson, wrote in his book, Gifted Hands, “Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.” How true that is.
  8. My yoke may be heavy, but my burden is light: This is the one thing that others never understand. Yes, committing to several large endeavors while maintaining a home and career is daunting, but it’s not tiring. I am busy, but I am not overwhelmed. I keep my eye on the finish line, jumping over hurdles, sometimes sloshing through puddles, but holding steady to my pace. Most of all, I don’t worry or stress or let fears or uncertainties overcome me. I know that I am not doing all of the things I take on for myself. I am doing them for the greater good. And that’s what matters because I know that God will not let me fail. He will not let me falter. He will hold me up, guide me on the trail, and lead me to victory, not mine, but His, for the glory is His. Because…
  9. I am the handmaid of the Lord: I am here to serve. I am here to do His will. I will continue to listen to that inner voice that says, “No, this is not the right time” or “This is not the right job,” or “Yes, you can handle this. I will be by your side.”

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me(2015), Whispering Vines (2016)