The Dating Dilemma
Especially for parents with daughters… a post on dating.
There are always the extremes in Christian parenting on this subject, ranging from uber conservative and restrictive to the barely aware and unconcerned. I’m not a fan of taking either polarized approach, believing each to be difficult to navigate safely.
Some parents advocate a careful isolation from boys, doing their best to build a barrier from the impending dangers of dating; warning and restricting their daughters from their budding sexuality and the powerful pull of amped teen hormones.
Other parents approach the whole situation with a laid-back ‘kids will be kids’ posture, maintaining only the mildest of restrictions for after hours and unsupervised free time with the opposite sex.
Having raised two daughters I can only tell you that each child is as unique as a winter’s snowflake and there is danger in making sweeping generalities and dating rules as a parent without some reflection and prayer.
The larger issue at stake is the consideration of your daughter’s heart.
The standards of conduct and rules for dating are only secondary considerations for protecting and teaching our daughters about relationships, what’s primary here is the condition of the heart.
As a dad, I’m only too aware of the dangers of dating boys. I have made SOOOOO many mistakes in how I approached my girls and their potential suitors, acting out of fear and not love. My raw emotion posturing into dire warnings and threats against any testosterone fueled mini-man who dared to even consider asking one of my girls out on a date! I didn’t handle that so well and in venting my fear I isolated and excluded my daughters from the equation. Not one of my better moves.
Dating is and always will be a huge deal in a family, and sitting down with your spouse beforehand is essential in laying out the boundaries you need to have respected by your teen children. Unity in parenting is paramount in effectively guiding your kids into how to explore their emotions and their need for love and acceptance from a future husband or wife.
Fathers who take the time to ‘date’ their daughters and model how a gentleman should conduct himself in the presence of a lady is a BIG DEAL. Wives who seek to support and respect their husbands in front of their teen daughters (even when they disagree) is a BIG DEAL. As parents we are modeling to our kids how a healthy – loving relationship is intended to work in God’s blue-print for a lifelong marriage.
Dating is more than a social experiment that we as parents oversee. It’s a preparation for a covenant vow between two as they begin the journey of becoming one.
The issues of the heart reflect the source of the love to be cultivated and shared within the sacred sphere of marriage and family. If that heart is unsure, desperate for affirmation and identity, it will do reckless things to get it. If a teen’s heart has a solid grasp of their value and purpose in Christ, they are going to make much healthier choices when we’re not around to ‘protect’ them.
Laying out your family rules on dating is essential, but making sure your child’s heart has been given a healthy dose of self-respect and consistent affirmation is MOST essential.