First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes. . .

BY: - 12 Oct '10 | Parenting

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by Harriet Hairston

Check out the title, y’all.   Anyone in my age group (born in the late 70s – early 80s)  can remember the little chant we used to do when making fun of our friends who were destined to date:

Lamar and Ronnie sittin’ in a tree,

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love, then comes marriage,

Then comes a baby in a baby carriage!

Hilarity ensues among the immature little girls who initiated the chant.   Lamar reconsiders his parent’s admonition to never hit a girl, and Ronnie–light enough to blush–turns beet red, starts crying and runs home.

But that’s not exactly how it went for them, and in many cases–given the fact that 7.2 out of 10 African American children are born to single parent households–that’s not how it goes for a lot of folks.

But are the days gone when  boys gave girls notes saying,  “Will you be my girlfriend?   Circle YES or NO.”   Not hardly.   By and large, they’ve just replaced “girlfriend” with “Baby Mama #___” and go on about their business.

Are the days when a girl could “shake it to the east, shake it to the west, shake it to the boy that I love the best”?   Not at all!   There’s a whole lot of shaking  going on amongst  younger generations that has very little to do with love and more to do with learning  how to gain prowess like Ciara  at riding. . .err, umm. . .mechanical bulls  or something.

How do we get the days back of love, then marriage, then  babies in a baby carriage?   That used to be an elementary concept, but  now, to mention such a thing is outrageous and “old fashioned.”

Personally, I think we  could use some old school values when it comes to love, intimacy and relationships.   That old school stuff like:

  • Daddy/Daughter Dates, where a father teaches his daughter how  she is supposed to be treated by periodically getting her dressed up, getting her flowers and taking her out to eat at a fancy restaurant.
  • Requiring a daughter to bring a potential “beau” by the house so the whole family could meet him.   Then creating tension by making him sit on one side of the couch, having the parents sit in the middle, and  making her sit on the other side of the couch.
  • Knocking some sense into the knucklehead boys who didn’t  open doors, pull chairs out or stand up in the presence of a lady.
  • Being ever present in the lives of impressionable children so they would want to  engage in honorable, healthy relationships.

My mother has a friend who grew up in the 50s and 60s when this type of behavior was the norm.   He had taken a liking to a young lady that lived 18 miles away from him, so one day, in the heat of   South Carolina’s brutal summer, he decided to walk to her house.   He walked 18 miles, but it only seemed like a small stroll because he wanted to win the heart of this young lady.

When he finally got to her house, he walked up the stairs  and knocked on the door.   Her father answered and said, “Hey, boy. . .you’re dripping sweat all over my front porch!” and made him go back down the stairs to stand in  the grass.

He told his daughter,   “Some boy    out there asking for you is looking really hot.   Go give him a glass of ice water.”   She took it to him and stood there waiting for him to finish it.   When he was done, her father told her to take the glass and come back in the house.

The young man watched until the inspiration behind his trek disappeared into the house.   Her father broke his conversation with a gruff, “Hey, boy.”

His focus went back to the man he would have to go through to get to his prize.   Expecting some kind of accolades or attaboy, he gave her father his undivided attention.   “Yes, sir?” he said.

Her father said, “You can go on home now.”

And that was the end of that.

Love, marriage, babies in carriages and mean ol’ daddies alleviated the nasty notes and shake-your-booty chants.   Add a dose of fulfilling purpose and cover the whole thing with God, and you’ve got a pretty good formula for revitalization of the  neo-soul of the African-American community.

BMWK, what ways do you think parents and kids can bring back the “Love, Marriage, Babies” order to the lives of future generations?

God bless!

~ Harriet

Harriet Hairston  is a woman who slips and slides in and out of labels (military officer, human resource manager, minister, mentor, spoken word artist and  teacher).   The only ones that have stuck so far are “wife” and “mother”  (the most important  in her estimation).  The rest have taught her well that only what she does for Christ will last. There is one more permanent label she holds:    author.   You can purchase her first book,  Who Are You? by clicking on the link.   You can also contact her at harriet_hairston@yahoo.com.

About the author

Harriet Hairston wrote 27 articles on this blog.

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16 WordPress comments on “First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes. . .

  1. Tara Pringle Jefferson

    Great post! It reminds me of a photo of my mom and dad when they were “courting.” It’s a picture of the two of them sitting on a couch in my grandmother’s living room, and my dad had on a suit and my mom had on a pretty dress. I thought for sure it was Homecoming or some other school dance, but my mom said, “Nope, just a regular Saturday.” My dad put on a SUIT to walk across the street to see my mom. How cute is that?

    Reply
  2. Dianne M Daniels

    We teach our daughters to accept nothing less, we teach our sons to offer nothing less, and we are the “mean old parents” / “mean old mom” / “mean old dad” for a generation or two…and we encourage / demand our friends and community do the same. Anyone who does not adhere to the rules is not welcome. Police your children – if your son is not showing respect to his ‘girlfriend’, demand that he do so immediately, and if SHE does not appreciate it, require your son to drop her like a bad habit. Demand that your daughter expect and demand respect from HER guy friends and boyfriends and friends who happen to BE boys.

    I eavesdrop on my19 -year-old’s conversations when she’s in the room – if I hear something I don’t like, I question her right then and there. I actually took the phone from her one afternoon because her boyfriend was getting so loud about nothing (I heard the entire conversation) that I could hear him across the room. I told the young man that if he continued to use that tone of voice and volume with MY daughter, I’d forbid her to talk to him any longer and block his cell phone number from hers so he COULDN’T call her. It’s not the first time I’ve done this…and my daughter backs me up completely. She knows I’m there for her…and if her father had heard the same thing, his response would have been exponentially more serious and in-your-face (to the young man).

    We cannot let this slide…it will take some years of hard work and consistency before it changes, but IT CAN AND MUST CHANGE.

    Reply
  3. Dianne M Daniels

    Tara, you brought back some memories for me as well…my Mother told me a story about my uncle George – he was (and still is) a very attractive man, so he had no shortage of ladies interested in him. When he was dating, he would sometimes tell my Grandmother “Mom, I’m going out.” If he was serious about the young lady, he would get cleaned up, get dressed up (the suit idea) and call ahead, THEN go and see the young lady. That’s how they knew he was serious about the young lady…he put in the effort!

    Reply
  4. Edward

    Good post. We are living in a tough marriage climate these days. Every body is doing there own thing and making the rules that are comfortable to them as they go along. Every marriage bears a level of responsibility to model values and project perspectives to the next generation. Personally, I am a firm believer in brainwashing (ok, positive re-enforcement. LOL) – I tell my 2 yr old every morning, “You are going to be a good boy, a good man, a good husband and father and you are going to college”. I believe that by enforcing certain boundaries over those that we have connection with in our homes and extended families we can make a difference.

    Reply
  5. Ronnie_BMWK

    Good post Harriet!!! My son is dating now and I am kind of glad that he is late getting his driver’s license. I have been picking up and dropping off my son and one of his female friends. Before the date I am giving him tips and I smile when I see him execute them.

    I totally agree, we need to teach our kids some old school values and how to respect each other.

    Reply
  6. katehess

    I like that we are nostalgic for those bygone days; however, I think we can learn from those old fashioned notions of courtship from the old days and take from the more open atmosphere of today and really bring some clarity to what can be some very good transitional times for our kids. I overheard my grandson say that a couple making love was ‘nasty’ and so I inquired as to why he felt that way. My husband and I used that as a teachable moment about God’s plan for relationships and the proper and appropriate place for sex between a husband and a wife for reinforcement of love between the two as well as, whenever they deemed it, for procreation. We further used the analogy of a building, since there is a lot of construction in our area to show that it was beautiful on the outside but barely had any walls or any other rooms completed INSIDE. Our queston was: Is this house ready for someone to move in? to which he replied: no….But we further discussed that likewise, even as he’s practically as big as we are at 13, there’s LOTS of growing inside he has to do to be READY to be a boyfriend, a husband and a parent. WE know this is an ongoing discussion.

    Reply
  7. Tiya

    Harriet, ooh you brought back memories. I did use to shake it to the east and shake it to the west lol. But yes, I think parents need to be more involved and begin to take these teenage (puppy love) relationships a little bit more seriously. These children/teens are more advance than their parents and they are doing things we never would’ve done back in the day. So as parents we need to really get to know these people that our children seem to like, invite them over, have conversations with them. And talk, talk, talk to our children about any and everything, let them know there aren’t any stupid questions and that you are always open and available.

    Reply
  8. The Duchesne

    I appreciated this article as I wrote an article yesterday regarding marriage and the reasons we do it. Some for money, some for love.
    Would you take a look and let me know what your thoughts are? The article is called Marrying For Money – Why It May Not Be gold Digging. You can view it here

    http://www.theduchesne.blogspot.com

    I like your bolg, I’m following you. Please link me or follow me.

    Reply
  9. Miss Eva

    I remember when my son was 7, a young lady that he played football with in the neighborhood came and knocked on the door for him. I told her he was having dinner (which shows how late her mom let her come out by herself!), and if it was still light outside, he’d come out afterwards. She says, “I’ll wait.” and sits down on the steps. I told her that she needed to go back to her house (right next door), and he would come, knock on her door, and ask for her if he came back out.

    Seems like a little thing, but I was stunned. I couldn’t imagine doing something like that as a kid. My parents would never let me go over to a boy’s house at any age, alone, and ask for him. I told my son that if he wanted to play with her, he would have to walk to her house and ask for her, because that is what gentlemen do.

    When I was a single mom, I started showing my son how to hold the door, and who to hold it for. When I got married and had my second son, we started really early with him too. My oldest was born outside of wedlock, but when we went to a baby shower for an unwed couple, he came to me and said, “I didn’t know how to feel about it. Something doesn’t feel right – they aren’t married yet.”

    The trick to this is, to let our kids who were born outside of wedlock know that they are okay, they were not a mistake, but they have choices that can possibly make their lives easier. They don’t have to have the “my mom did it, I can too” attitude. I have been a single parent and I am now a married parent. I have to let my oldest know that he was a gift, a gift that I probably didn’t deserve at the time, but when he chooses to accept God’s gift for him, that he should find a good woman to share that gift with.

    Reply
  10. Miss Eva

    I remember when my son was 7, a young lady that he played football with in the neighborhood came and knocked on the door for him. I told her he was having dinner (which shows how late her mom let her come out by herself!), and if it was still light outside, he’d come out afterwards. She says, “I’ll wait.” and sits down on the steps. I told her that she needed to go back to her house (right next door), and he would come, knock on her door, and ask for her if he came back out.

    Seems like a little thing, but I was stunned. I couldn’t imagine doing something like that as a kid. My parents would never let me go over to a boy’s house at any age, alone, and ask for him. I told my son that if he wanted to play with her, he would have to walk to her house and ask for her, because that is what gentlemen do.

    When I was a single mom, I started showing my son how to hold the door, and who to hold it for. When I got married and had my second son, we started really early with him too. My oldest was born outside of wedlock, but when we went to a baby shower for an unwed couple, he came to me and said, “I didn’t know how to feel about it. Something doesn’t feel right – they aren’t married yet.”

    The trick to this is, to let our kids who were born outside of wedlock know that they are okay, they were not a mistake, but they have choices that can possibly make their lives easier. They don’t have to have the “my mom did it, I can too” attitude. I have been a single parent and I am now a married parent. I have to let my oldest know that he was a gift, a gift that I probably didn’t deserve at the time, but when he chooses to accept God’s gift for him, that he should find a good woman to share that gift with.

    Reply
  11. Tyra Nicole

    Harriet,
    You definitely brought back memories. My liitle (29yr old) brother :) and I were just talking about how when we were kids our lives were consumed with school, church and playing. We spent about 75% of our time in church so I would have to say that had a major impact on our other activities. At church however, we still did the same shaking it to the east and the west, we jumped rope, we ran up and down the church basement playing red rover and the list goes on and on. Now, my church has built a brand new community center and there is hardly any playing going on. Girls no longer jump rope and do cheers. Their lives are consumed with media – tv, texting, talking on the phone & social outlets (twitter, facebook etc). I have to agree that the parents must step in and be parents and do away with trying to be your childs friend. We all also have to fear God and start taking his rules seriously. That is one of the reasons why I was so apprehensive about doing anything wrong was that I knew that God saw me and the fear that God would punish me for the wrong I did held me for a long time. In addition to that, I feared my dad. It seemed like he always knew what I was doing. Now I’m not perfect and in the end with all that fear and respect, I still ended up with the baby carriage before the marriage. I was living in my own home, had graduated from college and had a full time job though. I still don’t feel that makes it right by any means and that’s why marriage immediately followed. What I am trying to get across is that if we don’t stop glamorizing single motherhood, share our stories and let young ladies know that they only have one life to live and if they don”t make wise choices they will have to put their life 2nd and start caring for the life of another all too early.

    Reply
  12. {JeLisa} @ Blogging Ever After

    Loved this post.My husband and I absolutely plan to teach our kids {once they’re here} the value of respecting themselves, respecting others, and respecting boundaries. The fact that my husband respected me and my boundaries, not to mention my parents, is one of the reasons I love and admire him so much today, and feel so good about one day raising children with him. I know I got a good guy, and with him, I’ll raise a good guy, too.

    Reply
  13. Astarr3064

    Bull crap olla. This article mixes apples and oranges together to make squares feel better about themselves. Teen pregnacy is not the issue here. The real issue is love and fidelity which has nothing to do with courting. Anyone that has gone to well and come back empty can tell you courting was not the issue. The way black people specifically feel about mariage has got to change and evolve and looking back with rose colored glasses is not going to help. Marriages today fail because other institutions that kept marriages together have failed. The reality is that black people need to encourage second marraiges third marraiges and even 4th marraiges . So many women and men try marraige for the wrong reasons and after they fall apart they’re gun shy or they spend all their energy feuding with ex spouse and after that marraige is never an attractive option again. Black women specifically need to get over themselves life is not supposed to be easy and the more time you spend bitching about the more blessing you miss.

    Reply
  14. HarrietH

    This article wasn’t designed to make anyone feel better about anything. I agree with you wholeheartedly: the real issue IS love and fidelity. Courting, and the parental influence adults had on their children’s lives regarding love, fidelity, marriage and child rearing are things that have changed for the worse over the years.

    Although this article isn’t a panoramic view of the big picture facing black America regarding marriage and relationships, I emphatically and unequivocally believe that what is illustrated in this article has more to do with parents’ relationships with their children than the denigrating and derogatory description you made of black women.

    THIS black woman fully realizes that life and all it entails is nowhere close to easy. But within the difficulty, a couple can forge their own “happily ever after” with discipline, commitment, love and respect.

    Reply
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