Teens and Dating: 5 Parenting Tips to Help Navigate You Through
Teens and Dating
You raise your babies into toddlers and tweens and soon enough, the teenage years are upon you. When the topic of teen dating arises don’t panic! This is a very tricky time in many respects to navigate through. Hormones are changing, moods are shifting, and social pressures are building. As tricky as this time can be of raising teens, sometimes adding dating to the mix can create walls depending on how you approach the subject.
Here are a few things my husband and I decided upon for our three daughters.
1. Create Open Dialogue
We had to create some dialogue with our teens to set the expectations. We set some guidelines so we could entrust that our daughters are not only being respectful but to also make sure they are being respected. The last thing we wanted to experience is our kids feeling like they couldn’t talk to us or risk them becoming sneaky. We feel like creating a space for honest conversations has proven beneficial. Our daughters feel free to share their thoughts with us and we appreciate that.
2. Middle School Dating
In 7th-8th grade our kids didn’t ask to go on dates per se, but the topic of “hanging out” came up. We decided if the kids wanted to hang out when they were ages 13-14 years old, then it would be in large groups. The other option was to have the kids come to our home and they could hang out in the family room with everyone. It’s good for the kids to socialize in youth group type settings like ice skating, bowling, etc. but we feel it is too young for dating at this point.
3. High School Dating
When my girls began high school, we decided that age 16 would be an acceptable age for them to go out for an hour or two on a date. We had to meet the boy who was picking them up. Trust me when I say, if the boy didn’t offer a firm handshake and eye contact with my husband, there were conversations to be had! On the other hand, if the boy arrived and texted “here” without picking her up from the door, that’s a deal-breaker for my daughters. They respect themselves enough to know that it is not proper. Chivalry cannot be dead!
We feel that any young man who is interested in taking our daughter out on a date should know that we do believe the Bible cover to cover. We also want them to understand our girls are precious cargo they will be toting around and to handle with care. My poor husband is going through this process of our two high school daughters dating right now! Needless to say, his hair is getting a little salt & peppa’ haha!
4. College Dating
My eldest daughter began college at age 17. This was a trying time to express rules as she technically “moved out” and lives in a dorm, however; when she is at home, the same respectful rules apply. Even though she is now 19, she still has a set a curfew when she returns home and she must abide by that. It isn’t that we are trying to be mean, we want our kids to understand boundaries and respect, even if they are now adults living at home. My college daughter’s boyfriend is very sweet and always walks her to the door and opens her car door. He is such a gentleman and we appreciate his caring and loving heart for our daughter. If we don’t clearly express an expectation for our kids to follow, they may not fully understand the standards in which we have set for them.
5. Give Guidance
There is such a small window of time between teenage dating and adulthood. It isn’t always easy making the right decisions. You have to do what you feel is best for your family. My current hope is that what we are doing by setting these ideals in place is to allow our kids to explore relationships respectfully but to also honor their faith and values at the same time. While its not healthy to get wrapped up in your teens dating life, there may be times you need to intervene by suggesting that the manipulation they could be experiencing and things of the like, is not healthy.
My Hope for the Future
I have prayed since the day I found out I was pregnant with each one of my babies for their future spouses. I have prayed that each spouse will be kindhearted, loving, patient, God-fearing, strong yet easy-going because Lord knows they will need to be all of those things with these strong-willed girls of mine! I know that someday when we are past the teen dating phase and engagements take place in the years ahead, that God will answer my prayers for the future sons we will inherit. Until then, it is my job and responsibility to make sure I am raising up strong and sweet young women who value relationships and respect themselves to be loving and also respect the young men they date.
We must teach our sons to be gentlemen and teach our daughters how to treat young men respectfully. They are each not property or possessions rather, valuable gifts that are to be treasured. Time is the most precious thing we can gift each other. If we just spend a little time talking to our kids about the importance of loyalty, respect, and honesty they can then pour those values into someone else.