‘These young girls don’t understand the importance of courting’—Claudette Austin
By Kiana Wilburg
Sixty-nine-year-old, Claudette Austin Agricola, remarked, “I remember those golden days as though they were only yesterday. Courting back then was totally different to today. I admit that the times have changed but I often wonder, whether for the better or worse?”
Courting is the act or process of learning about someone before getting romantically involved. Ms. Austin believes that this is not always followed among the generation of today and “this is a sad reality.”
“Have parents forgotten how important it is to impress upon the minds of their young sons and daughters the value of courting? Have we lost the ability to truly appreciate the courting process or as the generation today would put it, the dating process? It leaves one to wonder how much these youth really know before having sexual relations with someone.”
Ms. Austin explored the topic of dating, as she made several comparisons between then and now.
“Back in my days, if a young man wanted to date a young lady, he would have to do the right thing; he would have to write home. He would have to present a letter to the mother or father of the young lady he so desires, expressing clearly his ambitions, intentions, family background, and education among some other things I can’t recall at this point.
“But, you know, you had to express clearly and most respectfully what you really want with a father’s daughter. But it sure wasn’t easy pleasing my father at least. I couldn’t even dream about thinking about boys when in school or else my father would have washed my tail with some good licks.
“Even talking about the topic of liking boys would earn you a few lashes with a piece of branch from a cherry tree. Today, it shocks me that even some of my nieces and nephews talk about being in a relationship and they are still in primary school. Times have really changed.
“Like my grandmother used to say, they just too hot and brazen. What is even more surprising is this whole live home situation among girls and boys who are just 16 and 18 years old. In my time, such practices were forbidden and frowned upon,” related the insightful woman.
The grandmother of three explained that courting is of critical importance. Both men and women too often take for granted the fact that it takes time to understand a person. “Everyone puts their best foot forward for the first few months. It is imperative for partners to take their time and get to know each other. When I compare the way this ideal was seen then and now, it is disheartening. It is as though, there is a total disregard for this process and I believe if taken seriously; it would save a lot of time wasted in some relationships.
“I recall the time when I graduated from high school and there was a young man that was totally in love with me. I was fond of him too but in those days a young lady is taught not to reveal too much of her emotions. Her mystery was something to be protected.
“He must always wonder how you feel about him and not the other way around. So when he finally mustered the courage to write home for me, my father who somehow knew how that I had a liking for him, gathered the family together and read the letter aloud. I was nervous. At the end of the letter, I saw my mother smiling so I figured that was a good sign.
“Daddy paused for a while and then mom broke the silence and said she was impressed but my father, on the other hand, rudely shouted that he was not and that the letter was filled with horrible punctuation marks, a few misspellings and his letter could have improved in its attempt to reflect his mannerisms.
“My father eventually decided that he could come over for lunch. Just when I thought in his strict mind that he would somehow approve, he told the love of my life that I am too young for a relationship and he is too young as well. He told the boy that I am too young to understand the responsibilities of being a woman in a relationship.
“To this, my fiancé said that he understands and explained that he is willing to wait eight more years or until my father believed that I would be ready. But, my stubborn dad told him, don’t even bother waiting. She is not for you anyway.
“The point of this little episode is to show that back in the days, whatever is the judgment passed by a parent, it has to be respected. You dare not disrespect your parent, but today? Look is like you can’t even talk to some of these young girls.
“If they believe they like somebody then to hell with your advice. If they feel like after two weeks of talking that they found their soul mate and they ready to live home, which I believe is a cultural disease and a total disregard for the respect and sanctity of a marriage, then that is what they do. The value system has been lost among our young girls today.”