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For example, we discovered that going out to dinner was the best way to expose our children to a variety of foods, help them practice good old-fashioned table manners in a public setting, and teach them how to order, use utensils, and appropriately tip a server.When going over how to invite a person on a date, we first gave the child some practical instruction and then had him or her practice by calling older siblings or family members of the opposite sex (all were prepped beforehand) to invite them to an activity.The Richardson Dating Academy—or RDA, as our children called it—officially started for each of our children when he or she turned 13 years old.Using our curriculum outline as a guide, we intentionally made time to talk with our children about the purpose and timing of dating, courting, engagement, and even marriage.We also discovered that it was incredibly helpful to provide as many opportunities as possible for our children to observe real-life relationships.For example, we would take them to a variety of social events and ask them to observe other couples.As you can imagine, family members loved role-playing during this part of the dating academy!Repeating these types of activities for each child over the course of three years helped deepen understanding and build confidence through practice more than a single conversation about relationships ever could.
We immediately thought of our own children and wondered if we were adequately preparing them for their future relationships.On a different occasion, while watching a couple at a restaurant, one son observed, “She had her phone under the table and was texting almost the entire dinner.” “How do you feel about that? He said, “I think if you are going to be with a person, then you should actually !” This was a perfect opportunity to talk about the importance of paying attention to others. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Dating involves commitments, if only for a few hours.” We wondered how our children’s friends would react when hearing about the dating academy.Some were apathetic, while others were much too zealous.Often they didn’t know how to treat each other properly. I desperately wanted them to experience the joys and fulfillment of a happy marriage and family life. Kimball (1895–1985) that “clearly, right marriage begins with right dating” seemed to occupy my thoughts during this time. ” After a few moments my wife said, “Maybe they know better.” We began talking in earnest about whether the process of developing good relationships was inherent in people or learned.