Dating Foundations 101
by Tricia Goyer
As someone who was boy crazy for as long as I could remember, I dreaded broaching the subject of dating with my children. My husband and I did set dating rules … but only after we covered the foundations with our kids first.
Foundation #1: Understand what dating is about. For us, we told our kids that the purpose of dating was to find someone you'd like to marry. And because they're not ready to be married in junior high — or even high school — one-on-one dating wasn't allowed. Instead, we encouraged our children to spend time with friends as a group. And … we opened our homes to their gatherings as much as possible. Every time our children brought up the idea of dating someone we'd ask, “Are you ready to get married? Is he/she?”
Foundation #2: Understand temptations: As someone who was a former teen mom and mentors teen moms, I understand temptations. I wanted my kids to understand them too. From middle school, when my kids first started “liking” other boys/girls, we discussed how our emotions can often lead us to make bad choices. We discussed how God wired men to be visual. I encouraged my daughter to dress modestly and encouraged my sons to look away. I shared examples of how first kisses rapidly lead to more. Even God's Word talks about this. “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires,” (Song of Solomon 2:7). John and I shared that God designed us to be bonded with other people, but the more we give our thoughts, minds, emotions and bodies to others, the less we have to offer our future spouse.
Foundation #3: Understand your children will be pressured. It's amazing how young kids start “searching out” someone to call their own. Kids are getting called and texted in middle school or before. This is a place you can step in. Set rules, which makes it easier for your kids to back out of unhealthy situations. While you must decide what these rules are, here are a few of ours:
- No phone calls, private messages, or texting with anyone of the opposite sex before age 16.
- If you are interested in being “exclusive” with someone (after age 16) then he/she must be interviewed by Mom and Dad.
- No solo dating before age 18.
Having rules like these give your kids a scapegoat to say, “Sorry, I can't.”
Foundation #4: Understand God. It's easier to make good dating choices when your son or daughter's first love is Jesus. We talked to our kids about God's Word and encouraged daily Bible reading and prayer. For a while, my daughter and I butted head about many of the rules, but as she grew closer to God she not only lived by those standards — but she also set others of her own. Seeking God and praying for future mates also helps young men and women to understand God has a plan for them. Prayer also changes their hearts in the process. God's plan may not look like what their friends are doing, but as they seek him they'll understand his plan is best in the end!
Tricia Goyer is the mother of one married son, two teens, and a baby. She knows her daughter-in-law is an answer to many prayers and is thankful for the foundations in her kids’ lives. More at triciagoyer.com