Restrictions inhibit daters

Chronicle Staff

 

It was the first time Jennifer* actually hoped she wouldn’t be picked up from school. She was with her boyfriend Toby* and the fact that her mother was late didn’t even cross her mind. When her mother finally arrived and got out of the car to search for her, Jennifer had no chance to warn Toby to leave. She gave Toby a  quick kiss, thinking the coast was clear, until a familiar and stern voice said, “I’ve been waiting in the car for you.” They both froze.

Jennifer is Jewish. Toby is Christian. Jennifer is white. Toby is black. To Jennifer’s parents, Toby wasn’t the perfect boyfriend.

Jennifer had already been grounded a month without a computer or cell phone when her parents first found out they were dating, but now their message was loud and clear. She could not see him anymore.

“My parents are really into their heritage and being Jewish and they want me to grow up and teach my kids Jewish stuff,” Jennifer said. “I don’t think it was the fact that he was black as much as the fact that he wasn’t Jewish. But I’m sure that played a part.”

Kaizeen Mody ’07 is technically allowed to date, but is required to marry someone of her own faith. This presents a problem. Mody is a Zoroastrian. According to Mody, in Southern California there are only approximately 300 to 400 Zoroastrian families.

While still in high school, Mody is allowed to date people outside her religion, but her parents don’t encourage it, or dating in general for that matter.

“They kind of see it as you are too young to date people in high school,” Mody said.
It is important to Mody that her children practice the Zoroastrian faith. Therefore according to Zoroastrian tradition she is required to marry someone from her religion.

According to school psychologist Shelia Siegel many parents who have come from different cultures are stricter.

“Parents who were born in another country don’t understand that their kids are American teenagers and want to be American teenagers,” Siegel said.

On the other hand dating within a race or religion can be the student’s decision. Eleanor Kim ’07 and boyfriend Brian Ko ’07 are both Korean, but according to Kim there were never any spoken rules about dating anyone within the same culture.

“There are certain similarities that wouldn’t happen between other races or other religions,” Daniel Lee ’08, a Christian Korean, said. “It’s easier when you understand the culture and know how things work.”

Some students aren’t allowed to date at all, regardless of race or religion.

Kendall Bass’s ’07 parents told her and her twin sister, Kirsten, that they would be allowed to date after they turned 16. After theyturned 16, they were told they would be able to date at the end of junior year. The end of junior year became 17-years-old, and now Bass isn’t sure when they will be allowed to date.

“I’m just so used to it that it hasn’t been an issue,” Bass said.

Bass’s parents believe that a boyfriend would distract from school work, a fear a lot of parents have.

“Some people feel their kids’ job is to focus on their education,” Siegel said. “There are also parents who don’t trust kids and don’t understand kids need a life.” Like Bass’s parents did, Siegel says that a lot of parents set an age limit.

“When you are at a certain age you are more mature and ready for responsibilities and temptations that come with dating,” she said.

Some students have boyfriends or girlfriends behind their parents’ backs.
One junior girl, whose parents have forbid her to date, has had a steady boyfriend for almost a year.

“They say I’m too young to date,” she said. “I find that strange given the fact that a lot of people my age are dating.”

Jennifer, like the junior girl, hid her relationship from her parents while she and Toby were dating on and off for three years.

Jennifer remembers the late nights spent talking to a frustrated Toby on the phone when he would ask, “Will they ever be okay with us?”

Jennifer sympathizes with Tobysaying, “I felt like they really didn’t get it.”

“I understand where they are coming from, but if I don’t care about the fact that he wasn’t Jewish or white then it shouldn’t matter to anyone else.”

*Names have been withheld at students’ request.