By: Carole Townsend | Columnist | Gwinnett Citizen
Published: 2017-09-05 13:52
Date Modified: 2017-09-05 09:36
Carole Townsend

If you have children, I'm willing to bet that you've learned a lot from them. Boy, I sure have. Still do. My husband and I have four children; when we married, he had two girls, and I had a son and a daughter. They are spaced exactly two years apart, so that worked out nicely.

Even though I was in my late 30s, early 40s when my two were in high school, I learned an awful lot about dating, especially from my daughter. She didn't date a whole lot, but she certainly had a set of rules she followed in the event that she did, and she didn't mind sharing them with me at every opportunity. You see, this was back in the days that I thought I still knew a thing or two about dating. Most of the time, I was wrong.

My daughter always had the nicest, most polite guy friends, and manners and consideration were two things I always looked for when the kids' friends came to the house. If a young man came into our home (and didn't sit in the driveway honking his horn), shook hands with my husband, and made eye contact and conversation with us, he made it to the APPROVED list. If he was a honker, or if he acted shifty, he got placed on the DO NOT COME BACK list. Of course, I wasn't naïve enough to think he'd be completely out of the picture – there was still school – but we'd make it clear that we didn't want to see him hanging around the house. Do people still do that? I hope so.

Anyway, I made the mistake a couple of times of offering my opinion to my daughter with respect to her dating. "Why don't you go out with him?" I'd ask. "He seems like such a nice boy." Of course, this was before I learned that those words were sure to draw enemy fire. What I heard more times than I can count, was this: "Gross, Mom. That'd be like dating my brother."

After having that conversation a couple of times, I learned to keep my opinion and suggestions to myself. You see with girls, you can bet that they'll do the exact opposite of what you suggest they do, once you suggest they do it. These days, I don't even lift an eyebrow when our daughter starts dating a new guy. To do so would have swift, inevitable consequences.

I suppose I understand the "never date your guy friends" rule; men and women see relationships from entirely different perspectives.Therefore, going on even one date with a guy friend is a surefire way to end a perfectly good friendship – if you're under age thirty.

Funny how things change as we age, isn't it? For those of us parents who found ourselves in the position of being thrown back into the dating pool for whatever reason, I'd say the opposite "friend" rule applied. My husband and I became good friends before we ever dated. I don't think I could have said "yes" to a date had that not been true. When I was a single mom, dating took on a whole new meaning to me. Having children meant that there was much more at stake when a new person entered the picture.

I'm happy to say that nearly twenty years later, hubby and I still date each other. It would be very easy to let that part of our relationship drown in the day-to-day. Starting our marriage with four teen and preteen children, we were in the "high risk" demographic of married couples. In other words, the chances of us making our second marriage survive were slim and none, according to the experts.

In the (almost) twenty years since we married each other, my husband and I have become best friends; he's the best friend I've ever had, and he believes the same of me. Funny though, when we enjoy our date nights, it still feels like those early days. He's every bit as much the gentleman now as he was then, and I love that. He does all of those little things that, I hope never fall the way of the lost art. He opens the car door and holds doors for me wherever we go. He walks on the "traffic" side of a sidewalk (a considerate gesture he taught me years ago). I could go on and on, but if one of our children reads this, we'll have to pay for the therapy that will surely follow.

While the "never date your best friend" adage still holds true for our daughter, I must say that my best friend is the only man I'd ever date, and I hope we go on "courting" one another for as long as we live.

Kids, if you're reading this, sorry.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was named Finalist for 2017 Georgia Author of the Year in the Detective/Mystery genre. Her previous three books are written with loving humor about the South. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she's not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family, and life in her beloved South. Follow Carole on Facebook (Carole Townsend-Author), Twitter @caroletownsend, or Instagram @carole.w.riter