Chaperones Again? Fr. Daniel A. Lord, 1950’s
“What are you trying to do, Father? Re-establish the chaperone idea?” said Sue.
“Gosh,” groaned Dick, “I can’t see it! Me taking a girl out with a spinster aunt trailing along behind us?”
“This isn’t Spain of the seventeenth century.”
“You might as well bring back swords and flowing cloaks.”
Father Hall’s clear, honest laughter relieved the tension.
“You know me well enough,” he said “to be sure that I’m not trying to thrust anything – chaperone, duenna, swords, flowing cloaks – on either of you. But I’m willing to make the two of you a little bet, which unfortunately I may not live to collect. I’ll bet that you put some kind of chaperonage back when you, Sue, are a mother, and you, Dick, are a father.”
When You Have Children
They looked at him, half in doubt, half in agreement.
“You see, you are going to remember the temptations that you saw unchaperoned youth encounter. You’re going to think of the dangers you yourselves ran. You’re going to recall how your contemporaries, boys and girls from good homes with fine family traditions, went more than a little wild when they were turned loose and had nothing to protect them but their honor and their common sense.
The result of all this recalling is going to be – or I miss my guess and lose my bet – that you’ll decide not to let your beloved sons and daughters run risks like those your contemporaries ran.
Here’s a very modern young man who thinks that it’s quite all right conveniently to run out of gas on the top of a shady hill. In a few years he marries. Many years later his charming daughter is at the dating age. A young man comes calling in a coupe. What do you want to bet that dad will think a couple of times before he allows daughter to go off with the young man – alone?
Here’s a very modern young woman who has had to suffer being bothered by some slightly rough youth who just can’t keep his hands where they belong. In time she marries and has a fine young boy. Comes the day when the boy wants to take a girl out on a picnic – alone.
I’ll be willing to double my former bet that the mother does a lot of thinking before she says, ‘Perfectly all right, my dear.’”
Trust, But —
“I have never conducted anything for young people – parties, conventions, outings, pilgrimages – without providing most careful supervision. That’s because I remember the temptations of youth. That’s because I love youth.
I can honestly say that the supervision I have provided has never been even slightly obtrusive or annoying. I know that it has never cut down anyone’s legitimate fun the least bit.
The fact is that I love youth, you young people, too much to increase your problems in life by placing you where temptation might be easy and its gratification simple.
And though we have, in the main, taken you youngsters at your word and trusted you, I wonder how far you will trust your own children, since you know what you know of the general trustworthiness of your associates.”
Neither Dick nor Sue spoke. Dick was concentrating elaborately on a large block of chocolate cake that needed undivided attention. Sue was diligently stirring a cup of chocolate, in which the sugar had long since dissolved beyond any further need of rotary motion.
Your Pledged Word
“Then the answer is chaperones?” Sue said, at last, in a question.
“As you yourselves will probably solve it later, yes. Though don’t get me wrong about that. I’m not thinking about a gaunt female with a mantilla over her head and a look on her face that would sour milk.
But that’s not the immediate question. I’m thinking less of chaperones and duennas than of you.
You young people made us promises. How have you kept them? You were proud to believe. Are those things true? We fulfilled our part of the bargain.
We said, ‘All right, then; you’re trustworthy, all of you. We can count on you boys to protect the girls. We can be sure that you girls will set high ideals for the young men you go with. We hereby abolish the chaperone.’
We did our part. So what?
Well, if I were a young person. I should consider myself bound by an implicit contract. If in a war a gentleman officer who is a prisoner gives his word not to try to escape, his guards are removed; he would consider it the most frightful breach of honor to try to escape.
Any honorable person who is party to a contract breaks his neck if it is necessary to fulfil his part of the agreement.
It’s Up to You
“Well, we accepted your words; we told you that we had faith in you, and we settled back to watch all of you make good. Shouldn’t you be ashamed of yourselves if you fall short of our faith? And shouldn’t you consider that young man or woman who failed a real traitor to youth?
I hate to think that the graceful, beautiful figure of the chaperone has disappeared from our parties and receptions. Let’s hope that you’ll have sense enough to be glad when some older person is willing to be with you when you are having a good time.
But it seems to me that on the unchaperoned occasions which constitute most of your social life right now the whole problem is on your shoulders.
You said that you young men were chivalrous. Fine. Then make good.
You said that you young women were pure and decent and knew how to take care of yourselves. Splendid. But do more than just say these things; prove them.
You said with all the emphasis of youthful honesty that you didn’t need anybody to watch you, that you could be good and could stay good on your own. That’s a large order. You had better be doing all you can to prove that you are not liars or the worst type of self-deceivers.
Not Fooling Us
“You see, while we oldsters are a trustful lot, we’re not blind. And when you think you’re fooling us, the plain fact is that you are fooling yourselves.
The young man who says, ‘I don’t need any chaperone,’ when he really means, ‘I don’t want to be annoyed with having to look out for a chaperone,’ isn’t fooling us. We know why he dislikes chaperones. And you know why, too.
The young woman who says, ‘Chaperones are obsolete – we girls know how to take care of ourselves’ – may be telling the truth. I’d like to think that she is.
If what she really means is, ‘Chaperones are a nuisance – we would get into hot water if one of them saw what we are doing,’ it doesn’t take us long to catch on. She’s kidding only herself.
But the result is that a lot of decent young men and pure young women who probably don’t need chaperones to watch over them are going to suffer for the scamps who use the absence of a chaperone to get away with murder.
The whole mass of young people must bear the reputation of the liars and the treaty breakers, who have used the repeal of the chaperone as a repeal of the laws of common decency and human safety.
When It’s Your Turn
“Some day when you, Sue, are a mother and you, Dick, are a father, and your youngsters sally forth into the darkness, you’ll follow them with yearning heart and the winged angels of prayer.
If the chaperone hasn’t been reinstated by that time, you’ll do your share of worrying, too. That will be a bit of the balancing of accounts with your mother and your dad, who worry about you out of their deep love for you.”
This is my own repost about chaperones. Before some may jump all over it, I do realize this is much out-of-vogue and not for everyone. Also, circumstances may not allow. Our oldest son was working at a monastery when he met his future wife. Their courtship was away from us. There were times they couldn’t get a chaperone and did without…
In the past year, I saw a post on Facebook, with many people agreeing, how damaging chaperoning can be. All I can say, is good thing I didn’t read it before we tried it!
And I do think it has to be done with the right attitude. Kindness, joy and a spirit of love means a lot. Not seeing sin in every corner….but, all around, that everyone knows it is ultimately done for the good of the couple.
That being said…It has worked wonderfully for our family (though it can be very inconvenient on both sides).
Courtship is a precious and precarious time.
There is one thing that we have done in our home that has paid great dividends. I know that everyone has their own dynamics in their home. But we started this at the beginning of our first child’s courtship season and have found it to be very beneficial. It’s called “chaperoning“.
Now, this may seem a somewhat antiquated approach. We don’t mind that. We have tested the waters and after marrying 5 (6 since this was written) of our children off, we know of the benefits.
The married children will attest to it, too, and appreciate, in hindsight, all the effort put into having a little kid brother and sister with them. It has kept them from temptations and helped them to focus on the important things….like getting to know one another!
Don’t get us wrong. They have time to talk and get to know one another. But it is usually in our home while the family is doing other things. The couple will sit outside on the swing, or sit and talk on the couch. We are not breathing down their necks. But if they decide to go for a walk, or want to go to dinner…..they will have someone tagging along… (not necessarily right with them)!
They use the phone, too, to talk and get to know one another.
It can get pretty annoying, I am sure. And I let the couples know that it is annoying to the chaperone, too, so it goes both ways and not to complain! But in general, it is accepted and they do not murmur! In fact, they are very grateful and know that it is a big effort on everyone’s part to ensure the purity and beauty of their courtship period.
And when they walk away from that wedding, hand in hand, with no little kid tagging along, they are one happy couple!!!!
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“True love gives strength of character and assists in the acquisition of self-control. It never takes advantage of another for the sake of personal gratification. To preserve bodily integrity before marriage, a young man must also possess some knowledge of women. Good and pure-minded women inspire respect and make the task of a young man easy, for he will have no difficulty in keeping the right distance.” – Father Lovasik, Clean Love in Courtship http://amzn.to/2CNajTD (afflink)
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