“You’ll talk to my dad now?” I asked JP, heart pounding, palms sweaty against my sides. “You’re ready?”
“Yeah, I’ve been preparing myself for this,” he said softly. A small smile played on his lips, as if he were mustering all his confidence. He had another mountain to climb, another step to claim this relationship as ours. “I knew I’d have to do this sooner or later.”
For a split second, the butterflies in my stomach fluttered, then they rose like whirlwinds.
So this is how it feels to be pursued , I thought.
Involving Parents: The Ancient Approach to Romance
Is involving parents old-fashioned? No, not even close. Involving family in romance is actually very, very ancient.
God has “ancient ways” of doing things. (Jeremiah 6:16). We may be in the 21st century, but it does not designate his principles as out-of-date. His ways are timeless, producing an abundant life. (Psalm 16:11).
Like gravity, there is a God-designed physics to a blessed romance.
One of the ancient principles for the fullest relationships involve healthy boundaries and accountability.
Modern culture suggests that parental involvement in a budding romance can limit fun, joy, and the romance itself. But contrary to those ideas, the boundaries parents provide can be good—the same way rules for crossing the street are good for you; the same way not sticking a knife into an electric socket is actually great for you.
For some young people, the presence of reliable parents may be unavailable, but the covering from wise mentors and trustworthy individuals may be just as necessary and sufficient (Proverbs 19:20). Accountability fostered through openness to guidance brings life to the relationship. Though it might seem limiting at first, it actually leads to more worthwhile outcomes.
I couldn’t write about this gladly until I experienced it myself. Involving my parents in my budding relationship led to these three benefits:
1. My Heart Was More Protected
Beyond protecting physical purity, boundaries set by my parents also protected my heart.
I once heard a quote from a pastor: “Love is not only blind. It is deaf, dumb, and stupid!” Turns out that when a young person is in love , all he or she sees is perfection. No flaws. No pitfalls.
It’s in this moment when wisdom must trump blinded feelings and consider the counsel of wiser ones. (Proverbs 15:5; Proverbs 1:8-9).
Parents—no matter how imperfect or disagreeable—have notable insights about our relationships. They know in their gut if a person is the best match or not. They understand our quirks, our flaws, our interests. They have insights on what characteristics “the one” must possess in order to compliment our strengths and weaknesses.
My mom always told me to go for a guy who was careful with words. A blunt person might not be my match since my primary love language is words. In the long run, their guidance lessened the risk of having my heart broken by the wrong person.
Their boundaries also had me wait for romance throughout my teenage years. It wasn’t until I was 21 years old when JP came into the picture, and the wait was worth it.
2. I Valued the Relationship more
My dad has a large voice. And for that particular night, he decided to use it on JP. “What are you asking permission for?”
JP didn’t miss a beat. He kept the brave smile, voice unwavering. (Though I was sure he was as nervous as I was). “I’ve been praying about this,” he said. “God showed me your daughter. I’m asking for your permission to pursue her…”
By this time, the butterflies in my stomach turned into acrobats doing cartwheels.
How many young men could face my dad like that? Probably not a lot.
My dad acted as the “gatekeeper” to my heart. With my dad’s presence and JP’s accountability to him, I saw how JP was truly serious about having a relationship. It wasn’t just a fling. It wasn’t just a shallow test drive. It was a pursuit with the best intentions. It was real, loyal, and unashamed. Here was a suitor proving himself trustworthy to my dad.
Having my parents involved ensured that the relationship would be valued and ultimately treasured.
3. My Romance Had More Joy
My dad’s large voice shifted into a laugh, breaking the tension in our living room. “I had a feeling this was coming. It’s a good thing that you’re a nice young man”. He commended JP for having the guts face him.
It was one thing to be happy about having JP in my life. It was altogether a deeper joy having my parents grow to love him too. Meanwhile, I also found acceptance from JP’s parents. Our relationship expanded beyond ourselves and to each other’s relatives, bringing happier opportunities like joint family events.
Yielding to my parents’ (and JP’s parents’) boundaries also laid the foundation for deepening the emotional intimacy more than the physical one.
My dad gave ground rules—we had limits to how we could date (i.e. no overnight arrangements, no dates in faraway places, etc.) These boundaries allowed us to prioritize getting to know each other without the compromises that could tarnish the relationship.
It was like setting up healthy fences around a blooming garden, enjoying its present fruit and protecting the joys of future ones. (Song of Songs 2:6-7)
Involving the covering of our parents yielded joy for the present and for the future.
God’s Earthly Design for Romance
“I’m glad you talked to my dad,” I told JP once we stood outside of my house.
“Of course,” he said. “I told you I was serious about this… You’re worth it.”
It took a lot of self-control not to do real cartwheels right there.
Boundaries and accountability are truly ancient—but they aren’t outdated. They still lead to “abundant life.”
Misunderstandings and deferred hopes don’t have to be collateral damage in relationships. Instead, real love and joy can become the fruits of God’s ancient ways, creating a good earthly romance.