(Yes, the typo is intentional. Just letting you know.)
Libby Anne has a post on Courtship and regret at her blog. It’s an interesting look at the idea of courtship and how her parents were trying to spare her from the one thing that they had suffered: regret. It seems her mother regretted her past relationships and wanted to spare her daughter that sort of pain. That’s a noble idea but a flawed one at best. I should know, as my mother tried to do the same for me.
When I was young, my mother drilled it into my head that sex was meant for marriage and marriage only. You didn’t do anything physical with a member of the opposite sex while dating. No, all of that had to be saved for the wedding night, when you could consummate your relationship. Being young and naive, I believed her and repeated this as the party line. (It also didn’t help that disagreeing with my mother would usually earn me a slap.)
Then I met my ex and things changed.
To make a long story short, I didn’t follow my mother’s advice and I didn’t wait until my ex and were wearing rings before we consummated. It was probably the best decision I ever made; I found out that he and I were not compatible and that he was a borderline sex addict. If I had waited until marriage, I would never have known this and would have been stuck in a painful marriage with the only out being divorce.
Now, I understand why my mother thought this way: it has to do with a huge regret in her own past. She made a massive mistake and paid dearly for it. She didn’t want me to do the same. That’s all well and good but what she forgot is that I, as a human being, have to make mistakes in order to learn. If I regret something, ten to one I won’t do it again. Did I regret what I did with my ex? Not really, I just wish I had done it sooner! But I would have regretted waiting until I was legally bound to him and needing a lawyer to annul what would have rapidly become a loveless marriage. If I had waited, things would have turned out far, far worse, which is a far worse regret. To my mother, her words seemed sound but in reality, they were anything but. She would have pushed me into a terrible decision, one that I would quickly regret.
I understand that parents want the best for their children. I truly do. But in order to learn and to grow, sometimes that child needs to screw up. S/he needs to make a mistake or two along the way. Without any regrets, there hasn’t been any growth along the way and that’s something that nearly everyone would regret.