I don’t know if I’ve been a hopeless romantic for most of my life, but probably so. All my books have some romance in them–well, except maybe the Wishing Lantern! One of the reasons I’ve loved The Empire Strikes Back so much is it coined the phrase “scruffy-looking nerf herder” which continues to be an inside joke in my house.
As a kid, I also completely got hooked on the cult HBO favorite “Somewhere in Time” and thought how cool it would be to time travel back to 1912 to find the right girl. Science Fiction meets history? Love that theme.
So now I’m a dad, the father of five kids, and wondering how to raise them in a world that is obsessed with porn, unrealistic body images, objectification, almost zero father-figure role models, and pretty much pushes the boundaries to the edge and beyond just to get noticed.
True story – this week my teenage daughter related a conversation in one of her classes between a group of guys and girls talking about the various ‘body parts’ that they were attracted to. Nothing about personality, nothing about qualities of character. Body parts. She’s told me once that if someone isn’t looking into her eyes, they’re not looking at her real self. “I’m up here,” she said, gesturing in a circle around her face.
Added to this conversation have been several exchanges I’ve had recently with friends about the new Shannara Chronicles show on MTV. I was super excited to watch it because it’s based on my all-time favorite fantasy novel, Elfstones of Shannara which is the book that lit the fire in my head and made me want to write. As I watched some of the promotional trailers for it, I began to get an unsettled feeling about it. It was produced and funded by MTV, after all. So I opted to wait things out instead of watch it right away. I’ve had friends and family who have seen it and I’ve read many reviews, including the parental warnings on IMDB.com. Let’s just say I’m disappointed (but not surprised) to learn it’s very sexualized and violent. It’s not Game of Thrones, to be sure. But I have decided to wait for VidAngel to release it. If I’m uncomfortable with my kids watching a movie, it’s probably not something I should see either.
So how do you raise children today and teach them what love really looks like? I’d love to hear what you do. For myself, I try to role model at home and smile when the kids catch us kissing in the kitchen. For my wife’s birthday, I shared with her an excerpt from a great novel I’ve been reading called Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollop. The 19th century author perfectly captured, in my opinion, the essence of true love (not to be confused with ‘to blaive’ and as we all know, ‘to blaive’ means to bluff!). It’s come closer to my belief than anything else I’ve read.
“I do not know that Lady Glencora’s heart was made of that stern stuff which refuses to change its impressions; but it was a heart, and it required food. To love and fondle someone,—to be loved and fondled, were absolutely necessary to her happiness. She wanted the little daily assurance of her supremacy in the man’s feelings, the constant touch of love, half accidental half contrived, the passing glance of the eye telling perhaps of some little joke understood only between them two rather than of love, the softness of an occasional kiss given here and there when chance might bring them together, some half-pretended interest in her little doings, a nod, a wink, a shake of the head, or even a pout. It should have been given to her to feed upon such food as this.” –Anthony Trollope
So for this blog, I recommend watching or reading something truly romantic. Something that goes deeper than skin. Something that makes your heart skip a beat, smile, and squeeze a hand. If you’re looking for something safe for the kiddos (like I always am), I can’t endorse enough Brian Bird’s excellent TV series “When Calls the Heart.” Season 3 begins in a week. Can’t wait #hearties!
Jack & Elisabeth
Love is in the eyes.