We danced—all of us. I don’t remember who I went to homecoming with most years of high school; it didn’t matter. I was blessed to have grown up in the tiny town of Eustis, Nebraska, population 442 when I graduated in 2002. Homecoming is the dance I remember the most of all dances. Why? No pressure. We pulled up our hair and put on comfy shoes. We slipped on a pair of jeans and a “cute shirt.” We didn’t mind putting on a huge dress and getting nails and hair done for prom, but we also didn’t long for it during homecoming because that dance was different. That dance was about being friends and ignoring the realities and pressures of life, especially about what life was going to become later.
During homecoming, we were all equal. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t afford an expensive dress, shoes, nails, hair, fancy car, or anything else. It mattered that you would get your booty out on the dance floor and have an absolute blast. It was about simplicity. We may have had dates, but we paid little to no attention to who went with who. Those memories make me smile; those memories make me proud.
So did we have it wrong? Is it wrong to allow future generations nights of fun without promoting so much pressure, expectation, and even segregation? And perhaps I’m looking at this societal trend more complicated than kids are actually seeing it, but I don’t think I am. For one, I’m a little older (not much older . . . be careful), and I can see the important points in my life. I went to dances and was asked by boys to go. But I don’t remember those times other than the excitement in knowing we would be going to have some fun together. There wasn’t a lot of pressure or expectation. And I like that, because what I do remember has a lot more significance.
It just so happens I married this boy who asked me to Homecoming in 2001. Yes, he asked me, but I have no idea how. And do you know what? When he proposed to me to ask me to be his wife three years later, it was the first time.
Jeremy and I don’t have to look back at which proposal was which. As a man, he has the right to be able to propose in an extremely personal and special way ONE TIME. When we were 16- and 18-years-old, Jeremy didn’t have the pressure of having to “propose” to me to go to a dance. And he also didn’t have to top any proposal I had ever received to a dance when I was 15-years-old. We had a blast and I remember having a blast, but we were young. It was a date; it wasn’t a marriage yet. And I thank God we got the chance to be young and truly date each other before we began our lives together as a married couple.
Life gets harder—it comes with expectations and responsibilities.
An early proposal, even to homecoming or prom, places those pressures on our kids at a much younger age and more vulnerable time of life. They don’t understand that part of life yet and shouldn’t have to. At this point, it’s still our job to protect our kids. Am I overreacting on this? Perhaps (it has happened before). But I don’t want my sons to feel like they have to propose to a girl for a date.
The ridiculousness that is homecoming and prom proposals will not be carried out in my house. I’m sorry future girlfriends of our two sons, but I believe my son deserves to be a young boy. He deserves to not have to think about how to propose to someone until he’s darn ready. And your girl deserves that memory with her future husband. I will help my son ask appropriately. Does your beautiful daughter deserve hand-picked flowers when my son walks up to her and asks her to accompany him to a dance? Of course! And I fully support that. But down on one knee surrounded by friends and family with a huge production is just not something I agree with when kids are between the ages of 14 and 18. And for those kids who do experience it, of course they enjoy it in the moment. Of course they feel special. But how about everyone else?
We know it’s all for show. We know it’s not about the person or the dance, it’s about going along with society and trying to top what someone else has done. It’s about bragging rights, and it’s ridiculous.
Proposals should be special and personal, and this societal trend is destroying the future excitement of the BEST proposal for our kids. It’s all in response to the social media blowup. If kids couldn’t immediately post pictures and videos of these proposals, do you think they would be a big deal at all?
And I get it. I love being able to share special moments in life with family and friends easily, but I want my kids to have the opportunity to understand the difference between a proposal and a date.
I mean . . . really?!?!
And let’s take this a little further—I’m not afraid if it means helping teens understand the weight of a sexual relationship at a young age.
With a huge and elaborate proposal, are girls feeling pressured to physically give of themselves in order to thank boys for the elaborate act of love that is a proposal? Please God, let me be wrong. But a bed of roses? Lights? Are we, as parents, glorifying romance for teens?
And hey, no saint here. I was 14 when I lost my virginity. Yep . . . 14. And I know I’m not alone. But I also know I figured it out when I threw myself at that boy in the picture above. I believed I had to have sex with a boy in order to keep him interested, in order to thank him for dating me. It’s true.
But Jeremy turned me down. My pride, at that point in life, was destroyed. I’d had sex with four different boys before I met Jeremy and started dating him at the age of 16. I was emotionally broken. But Jeremy didn’t want me in that way—not yet. He had already given that of himself to someone else and he wanted more. He saw me as more than a vagina. I was an emotional mess and didn’t understand love until he showed me. He wanted to wait, so we waited. And by the time we both understood we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives, my self-worth had grown to the point where I understood I was worth the wait. And the tables turned—I told him I wanted to wait, and he happily obliged. So I can tell you the first night my husband and I made love was on our wedding night. I would not give that back for anything in this world, even the lesson I learned in being so young when I became sexually active. But I thank God He sent me Jeremy and I opened my heart to letting him in. Not all young girls heal from becoming sexually active at such a young age. Not all boys understand how to truly show love and genuine concern for the emotional well-being of both themselves and girls they may date. And I want that for my boys. I will teach that respect for women.
I do not want to support my boys in any act of love that is premature or gives any girl the idea that my son has “expectations” of a physical relationship.
So while I understand the reality that is parenting, especially the fact that we can’t always stop our kids from making mistakes, I also understand that I don’t have to support these proposals because I don’t agree with the messages being sent to our kids. Please re-think this new societal trend and let kids be kids.
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Learn more about Jeremy and Bailey Koch and our book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith.” You can also follow our blog at www.jeremyandbaileyblog.com.