To Date or Not To Date
Just when you think you know what you are doing as a parent. Just when you think “I’ve got this.” Just when you think you are a decent parent, your kids start dating. Then everything you thought you knew goes out the window. And you start over from square one.
Should we let our teenagers date? How old is old enough?
Kids in this country often start dating at such as young age. Kids are “dating” in middle school and even elementary. And by high school, they are playing house.
American culture has defined dating for teenagers as kissing, having sex, and using the word “babe” after every sentence. They try to act like they are practically married. It’s scary that this is the “norm.”
The emphasis of dating is on the physical not the relational or the spiritual.
A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek Him to find her.
~John Piper, Desiring God
There are two reasons why teenagers shouldn’t date in high school.
First, the obvious reason of teens and sex. It is hard to think of how many years my girls have before they will likely marry. If they get married at the same age I did, it will be in eight to ten years. That is a long time not to have sex in this culture.
Unless you live under a rock you probably know that most teens are having sex. And that includes those in the church. A significant number of kids from Christian households are growing up and deciding to have sex before marriage.
“80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex.” ~John Blake, CNN, “Why young Christians aren’t waiting anymore”
We are such a sex crazed nation. We have so perverted sex that it doesn’t seem to even resemble what God designed it to be. How do you come back from that? Is there any hope for our kids to remain pure?
Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right. Song of Solomon 8:4
If our kids awaken love at an early age, they may do things that they will later regret.
Second, we shouldn’t let our teenagers date in high school because it takes their focus off of God, family and school. Our kids’ jobs as teenagers is to love and obey God and His Son Jesus, to love their family, and to learn a skill or trade (go to school!). That’s pretty much it!
Same sex friends and church are also an important part of our teenagers’ lives. They need to be learning how to love others and participate in a community.
Anything else is pretty much a distraction at their age.
However, each parent has to decide what is best for their kids and their family. You know your teen. If you don’t let them date, are they likely to withdraw from you and sneak around? Or, will they be upset at first, but basically obey you? We should consider these things when making our decision.
We must weigh the risk of a breakdown of communication with our kids. Fostering open communication with our teenagers is crucial. Parenting teens requires a delicate balance. It is like walking a tightrope over a very deep canyon. If you get it wrong, you can fall to your death.
I am not saying that we should parent out of fear. However, very few of the issues parents face with teenagers are black and white.
Sometimes I miss the days when my girls were little and right and wrong was clear and obvious. I was an awesome parent then! But now I realize, even though young parents are physically exhausted and don’t have much time for themselves, it is much easier to know what to do. My husband and I have faced so many gray areas in our parenting lately that we have forgotten what black and white look like! It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.
I am in no way judging parents who do let their kids date in high school. We did. However, I am realizing that the ideal would have been for our kids to have waited to date. That would have been the ideal.
However, how much of life is ideal? Not much, I find. Especially in parenting teenagers in America in 2017! We do the very best we can, and realize that we are not perfect parents. I am not even close!
Ultimately, only God knows what twists and turns our kids will make on their way to the cross.
But, we can pray, and teach them that there isn’t anything that can separate them from the love of God. And that there is nothing they can do to earn, or lose, the grace that has been freely given to them.
A man 2,000 years ago hung on a cross, bloodied and beaten, for your kids and mine. Their sins have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That is all the hope we need.
Kim Kurtz is writing a book called, Pouring In: Instilling a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation, due to come out this fall. A majority of Christian kids leave the faith after they leave home. She explores why this is happening and what Christian parents can do differently to change the outcome for their kids.
In Mexico, families do not allow their teenagers to be alone with their boy/girlfriend. The thinking is that they are too immature to resist their urges. We American parents can learn from their example.
So what is teens’ reaction? They just make out in public, with little thought to the bustling crowds around them! At least it keeps things PG-13.