Is Sixteen Too Young for Dates?
“In the December Liguorian a girl of 16 complains about being permitted to have only one date a week.
I too am 16, but I am not permitted by my parents to go with boys at all, nor even to talk to them on a telephone.
They will not let me go with boys till I am 18. 1 hope to marry some day and have children, but to do that I have to have boy friends.
There are six in my family already married and they are all happy except one, who has nobody to blame but herself . . .”
The last statement in your letter indicates that the 18- year old rule your parents have laid down has worked out pretty well for your brothers and sisters.
If five of them are happy in marriage, and the 6th one having a tough time only through her own fault, the chances are all in your favor for a happy marriage under the parental plan.
You are too young, at 16, to be thinking of looking over the crop of boys, on regular dates, in order to pick a partner for marriage.
At 16, your inexperienced emotions are liable to run away with your reason, and before you know it you could find yourself madly in love with somebody at whom, if you were 18, you would take a second and a third and a tenth look before permitting yourself to be madly in love.
You might even feel that you had to marry a particular boy at 17 (in fact, you might have to marry him at 17 to keep out of sin), and then by the time you were 18 you could be wishing you still had your freedom to choose a partner more wisely.
If you answer that I seemed to O.K. the weekly dates of my December correspondent, you should recall that I said that these should be in company with other couples, and the dates should not be with the same person continuously.
In other words, a girl of 16 should not take a chance on becoming too attached to any boy because young love has its dangers and early marriage its drawbacks.
This is easier said than done if she goes in for dating; it is easier done than said if she does no dating.
I should add, however, that you can spoil the value of your parents’ ruling entirely by letting it make you bitter or rebellious.
There is an old saying that only an obedient girl can become a wise and prudent mother. You could ruin your character for any vocation by pouting, talking back, feeling aggrieved and persecuted.
Forget marriage and boys for a while, and work on your character and education, and I’ll prophesy a happier marriage for you than for any of your dating and courting classmates.
Dates with Married Employers
“I have a job as private secretary of an executive in a large company. It is a wonderful position and pays good wages.
My boss is a married man in his late thirties and I am 25.
My problem is that he is constantly asking me to go out to dinner with him, which usually means going to a show afterwards and spending the evening with him.
I have done this once or twice, but have not felt right about it.
He has told me that he does not get along too well with his wife, and that, therefore a little innocent recreation with a girl like me cannot do any harm.
He has all but hinted lately that it is a part of my job to go out with him, making me feel that if I don’t, he may look for somebody else to work for him.
You are face to face with a set of circumstances that have been the occasion of the moral downfall of many a previously decent girl.
The pattern is much the same in these cases.
It starts with the hackneyed dodge of the married man that “his wife does not understand him.”
Then comes the devil’s suggestion that dating somebody else is a perfectly innocent pastime.
If this is not sufficient to break a girl down, economic pressure is used: “It is part of your job-your pay-envelope depends on it.”
The end of the story is usually the same, no matter how upright, trustworthy, “decent-minded”, the employer seemed to be in the beginning.
The end is adultery in one form or another.
You are in danger not only from the obvious weakness of your employer, but from your own.
Your own heart can become involved; his position of authority, his flattering attention to you, his “pathetic” confidence in your ability to make up for his wife’s shortcomings, can make you think you are in love with him.
If you don’t resist that, and all occasions that may lead to it, you are lost.
For the sake of your soul, your peace of mind, your future, I beg you not to be deceived. There is no such thing as a married man “innocently” dating and running around with a girl other than his wife.
It is not innocent at the start, even when it has not as yet led to outright sins of sensuality, because he owes his companionship to his wife alone.
And it will not be “innocent” of sinful actions very long.
Even if you may have to lose your good job, as a price of your integrity, let him know that you cannot be bought, as a companion for his wayward affections, at any price.
Company-Keeping in the Late Thirties
I am thirty-eight years old and am keeping company with a man who is a little past forty. We seem to get along wonderfully well, in fact are in love, and he has spoken to me about getting married.
One thing has made me hesitate.
If I marry at my age, must 1 do so with the thought of possibly having a family?
I have heard and read that bearing children for the first time in the late thirties is very dangerous.
Must I face that danger? If so, would it be wiser not to marry at all, or at least to wait for several years?
One thing should be ruled out very clearly from the start, and that is the thought of continuing your steady company-keeping with the intention of not marrying at least for several years.
To do that, while being, as you say, in love, would be to remain deliberately in a very proximate occasion of sin without necessity.
If for any reason you decide that marriage is out of the question for eight to ten years, the only prudent thing to do is to decide that close company-keeping should also be put off for close to eight or ten years.
If you think about marrying, you must do so with the consideration of the possibility that you may have children.
It would be gravely wrong to enter marriage with the idea of taking measures to prevent yourself from ever having children; indeed, the marriage would be an invalid one if you excluded from the contract the very right to such actions as might result in your having children.
We do not think there is sufficient reason for you to be over-fearful of the danger of child-bearing at your age.
If a thorough physical checkup reveals that you are in sound health, and if you are sufficiently stable of mind not to permit imaginary fears to make you panicky, you should be able to face marriage and its responsibilities with calmness and joy.
This should be especially easy if you possess solid religious principles and childlike confidence in God.
God’s interest in your welfare and His care of your future may be counted on to balance any special difficulties that may arise if you have a family.
And remember always that only God knows whether you will ever have a child.
I would say: Get married, but do so with unreserved acceptance of all the responsibilities of marriage, and with unshakable confidence in God.
“Lord, You know my weakness; every morning I make a resolution to practice humility, and every evening I acknowledge that I still have many failures. I am tempted to be discouraged by this, but I know that discouragement also has its source in pride. That is why I prefer to put my trust in You alone, O my God. Since You are all-powerful, deign to create in my soul the virtue for which I long”. – St. Therese of the Child Jesus