Should I let my teenager date?
Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.
As a Christian parent, one of the hurdles that you will have to jump over in the process of raising a teenager is the whole dating issue. It’s completely natural for a teen to begin to notice people of the opposite sex and even be attracted to them as they enter into the teen years. However, a Chrsitian parent is wise to keep the communication lines open and set some boundary lines in place to help their teen enter into this area of life safely and wisely.
First, you are the parent and don’t forget it! God gave to that child and you have the responsibility and the authority to raise that child. Don’t feel like your hands are tied on this issue, you are in charge, God said so! It would be wise to discuss the issue of dating when the issue first comes up. My approach has always been, “every date is a potential mate” and thus I want to teach my teen that this relationship is not something to be viewed lightly, but instead should be reserved for a person who is worthy of the position.
Secondly, make sure you have some clearly drawn boundaries for the relationship. This should be established long before the child is allowed to court/date anyone. Some suggested areas you may want to think through and establish guidelines for are as follows: 1. The appropriate age to state having a boy/girl friend and then the age at which you will be allowed to actually go out on a date. 2. How dating will be approached when it does begin… single dates? Double dates? Etc. 3. What is appropriate for the Christian young person while dating? Is it ok to be physically involved in anyway? And if so, to what level? 4. Where are you allowed to go and what will the proper time frame for dating be?
Thirdly, provide opportunities for your child to be around the other person without putting them into compromised situations. One of the things that we have done in our home is that we have allowed friends to come to our home and eat dinner, play games, watch movies with us as a family. This has been a good experience for our kids as well as for us as parents. We get to know the young person on a much deeper level and they get to know us. It allows our child to get to know them as well. You must supervise these situations, ie. Don’t let them be alone…. No bed room hanging out etc… but it’s a great opportunity for them to develop friendships without being tempted to get too serious or fail morally. This also lets them have “friends” without being in a serious relationship. In my estimation this is much more productive and healthier for the young people.
Fourthly, be sure to make this decision a spiritual one for your teen. Encourage them to pray about God’s will for their lives. Share with them the importance of making a wise Godly decision. I often talk to my teenagers about the importance of choosing carefully who they grow interested in. I point out real life things in others lives to them to help them understand why these decisions are so important. Encourage your teen to pray often for themselves and their future mate. I will mention in this point that it is very important to stress the importance of saving yourself for your future mate. Teens need to understand that there is a wonderful prize to be obtained by remaining a virgin through their teen years and even till they get married. This discussion needs to be done appropriately and at the right time. You don’t want to dump a lot of excess stuff on them that they don’t need at too early of an age. Also share with them the concept of keeping one’s heart for their perspective mate, don’t give it away to the wrong person. It is wise to maintain a snail’s pace in this process to avoid failure and mistakes.
Finally, be reasonable! As a dad of three daughters nobody is good enough for my girls. Because you have set some standard of what your teen should be looking for, rejoice when they utilize what you have taught them in the selection of a perspective friend.
We don’t have the liberty of locking our teen up in a tower like Repunzle so we have to train and teach them how to avoid the pitfalls that so many others fall right into. Maintaining a great relationship with your teen, teaching them along the way, and preparing them for the future will be of great value in the area of dating.