Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thoughts on Teens and Dating

I have read a couple of articles recently about why teens should not date, or at least wait until they are out of high school.
Underage Dating: The Elephant in the Social Conservative Living-Room
7 Steps to Raising a Teen Who Won't Date Too Young

Any parent of teens has to deal with the topic of dating at some point, and parents of younger children need to be considering it as well, because our culture puts teen romance and teen relationships  in our face. Everywhere! Allthetime! TV.  Movies. Schools. The mall. Church.

I don't think there is one right way to approach this topic, just as there is no one "right" way to approach education or worship or healthy living.   Each family has to do what they feel is best for them.
Our family rule is no dating  until after high school.  They do have lots of friends, both boys and girls. Their social life wasn't/isn't lacking.  They have all been active in sports, music, church, Scouts, and various other activities.   But our reasons for putting the nix on young love has to do with preserving and protecting a time of life and leaving room for other experiences that romantic relationships can get in the way of.    We want our kids to enjoy spending time with our family and with siblings, and not resent family for taking them away from "that special person". We want our kids to develop strong friendships and understand the give and take that goes into maintaining a strong relationship - minus the tangle of romance.  We want our kids to enjoy their participation in sports, jobs, clubs, volunteer work, and not give up on those things because of the demands that dating places on their time and energy.  We want our kids to develop a bit more maturity and wisdom and self-control before diving into the complexities of a romantic relationship, because even those of us who have been married for 30 years still haven't figured it all out yet.  We want our kids to avoid the heartbreak of broken relationships during a time of their life when they are especially prone to extreme emotion and even melodrama, and lack the life experiences to handle those emotions rationally.

Our teens have respected this position, even if they haven't always been happy about it.  For the most part, they have seen that young dating among their friends/peers hasn't been a great experience for them, and they appreciate that our family rules take off some of the pressure to "have a girlfriend" or "have a boyfriend".

This is just what our family does, and is by no means a "formula for success".  I know wonderful families who have allowed their children to date at a young age. I know wonderful families who follow a strict courtship model. I do think it is a topic that all parents should discuss and consider before their children hit the teen years.

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