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A priceless tea cup

Linda Wilk

A month ago, Larry and I traveled to Milwaukee, West Lafayette and Bloomington to move our three daughters in to their respective apartment/dorms to begin their next chapter of life.

Laura is now settled in to her apartment in Milwaukee, while Marissa is in her dorm at Purdue and Andrea has settled in to her dorm at IU.

We have had several people comment as we have shared where Andrea and Marissa are going that we now have a house divided and ask who will Larry and I be cheering for when it comes to sports. Well, that is actually easy, because we will both continue to be Nebraska Husker fans, with Larry also rooting for Michigan State.

As we made the trips, it gave me an opportunity to reflect back a bit on what each of the girls took and what it said about them, and in some respects, the upbringing we have instilled in them.

One item that really made me proud that each of the girls took with them to school was a tea cup. For Laura, that tea cup has traveled from home to her dorm room, two apartments in Columbus, Ohio and now to her apartment in Milwaukee.

Now it was not a cherished heirloom that they were given by a relative or close friend, nor does it have any real monetary value.

Laura’s tea cup for instance was purchased several years ago when the Mayor’s Commission Against Domestic Violence did a community back to school event and tea cups and saucers were bought in mass quantity from various second-hand stores in the area.

The significance of the tea cup and saucer actually has more to do with the values Larry and I have worked their entire lives to instill in them, along with many other positive role models.

It was one of those life lessons that drives us and I am blessed to see them carry on to college with them. It was as I was helping both Andrea and Marissa unpack their belongings that I found the tea cups and saucers, which they both displayed in prominent places in their dorm rooms.

The tea cup is part of an illustration that actually came out of a book called “And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity” by Dannah Gresh. It was Kathy Wood, who at the time was a member of the Mayor’s Commission Against Domestic Violence and was assisting with the back to school event, that introduced us to this illustration.

As we met with and talked to a large group of female teens about the difference between a Styrofoam cup, ceramic mug and a priceless tea cup, I was amazed how many girls wanted that priceless tea cup as a memento of what we were teaching.

Our focus was on healthy relationships, working to provide a tangible reminder to what everyone should expect out of a relationship as they begin to date.

The point was to help them understand just how disposable a Styrofoam cup really is and how they deserve to be in a committed, loving relationship where both parties show just how much they value the other person, where no one is forcing the other person to do something that they don’t want to do.

While a ceramic mug is less likely to be discarded as easily as a Styrofoam cup, there still isn’t the prestige or value attached to a ceramic mug that someone might have for a priceless tea cup.

Again, the point being, how much do you as an individual value yourself? Are you willing to have sex with someone who says they love you, and after you have sex, you find that they really were just after that one night stand? Or they just wanted to see how far they could push your boundaries? Or even worse, now you have gotten that reputation as someone who is easy or willing to play the field?

It is unfortunate that in today’s society, children are often inundated with messages of a sexual nature. It is sad that too often teens and preteens are having sex because they want someone to love them and they have been sent that false message that if you truly loved me, you would have sex with me.

No one has talked to them about the unwanted or unintended consequences of a sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy.

And for anyone who may read this and think that I am in any way judging someone who has had sex outside of marriage, that is most certainly not my intention. My goal in writing about the tea cup illustration is to share a proud moment in my life and encourage others to have a conversation with their daughter and son about healthy relationships, healthy boundaries and the importance of ensuring that the person you are dating truly does respect you.