Teen dating advice for parents
By Sherise Henry
As your children grow there comes a season where their personalities change and their circle of influence becomes much broader than their home environment. The teenage years are notorious for being such a time in life. As parents adjust to changes in mood, behaviors and interests of their children they must also brace themselves for an interest that can have a great impact on their child’s well being…dating.
Dating in current times can create a great cause for concern among parents. There are horrors involved such as date rape, and drug use on one side and on the other there is an opportunity for your teen to begin learning what it’s like to seek out the character traits of a person who would be potential marriage partners. As parents one hopes that the values instilled in your teen would carry them through tough decision making when pressure occurs, but it’s truly up to the teen and their level of spiritual growth and maturity that makes the final call. As parents the duty lies in establishing and nurturing the type of communication that would better help you discern what level your child is on in regards to emotional maturity.
We turned to Focus on the Family’s Parental Guidelines for Teen Dating as well as Family Life writers Dennis and Barbara Rainey for tips for Establishing Dating Guidelines for Your Teens for help in sorting out the subject.
Dennis and Barbara Rainey offer the following advice…
When a child can date
Giving a child the privilege of spending time with a member of the opposite sex is a freedom that is based upon our judgment of how responsible we deem this child to be. Can we trust her to stick to her standards? Is he strong enough to withstand peer pressure in a boy-girl situation?
In light of our reformatted definition of dating, we have the following very general age guidelines for spending time with a friend of the opposite sex (these are for children still living at home).
•Doing things together with an approved mixed group of teens away from our home: We have allowed this to begin sometime after age 15.
•Double dates or group dates: Usually at age 17, maybe earlier.
•Single dates: These are generally discouraged but allowed in certain circumstances.
Whom they should date
As a starting point, we believe our teens should develop friendships with and eventually date only other Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). Why go out with someone who does not have your values? Also, parents need to evaluate the vitality of the Christian walk of the person who may date one of their children. Specifically, is this young man or young woman a growing Christian?
In junior high, teens don’t have the discernment to know if a friend really is a Christian. They believe that if the child says he is a Christian, then he is. It takes far more maturity than most 12- to 16-year-olds have to see that words and actions need to match.
We believe moms and dads need to determine how their preteens and teens spend their time at home. Whom do you want to influence your child the most? After spending eight or more hours at school with friends and teachers, are you willing for her to spend one or two more hours on the phone every night with a boy friend or a girl friend? With homework, lessons, practices, and all, will you have any time with your teen to influence her?
Be wise about your child’s emotions. Even if your child is not dating, she can still become emotionally attached to a boy over the phone. We’ve seen it happen. Teens begin to share their feelings, their disappointments, their hopes, their troubles at home, and pretty soon they feel attached.
Focus on the Family editors echo the Rainey’s in their advice on how and when a teen should date.
We would advise that boys and girls under the age of seventeen should not be allowed to go out on one-on-one dates. There are simply too many dangers associated with this kind of activity. Instead, they should be encouraged to participate in group dates with a number of Christian friends who share their moral and spiritual values. Even then, mom and dad should make sure that they are well acquainted with the other kids in the group and their parents.
Some parents may feel comfortable allowing a mature, responsible seventeen- or eighteen-year-old to go out on individual dates. It's their call, of course, but here again we believe it's crucial that mom and dad know their child's dating partner and his or her parents well. They should also bear in mind that while eighteen-year-olds may be legally considered "adults," the fact remains that many of them haven't developed the maturity to monitor and control their own actions in a dating situation.
With these helpful hints in mind perhaps there will be a conversation in your home or a standard set that initiates your child’s protection in the unpredictable world of dating. Be blessed.