Our boys are teenagers! I know a lot of people dread this age, but I rather love it. Teenagers are a passion for me, and we spent a lot of years in youth ministry.
We are finding ourselves giving the kids all kinds of advice on hunting for jobs, saving money, career choices, and….dating. Navigating relationships is tough enough at this age. Throwing romance into the mix is a whole other complication.
Here are some things I’ve been thinking about.
Is it My Job to Give Guidelines?
When I was growing up, I had very severe dating guidelines….probably too many, if I’m being honest. However, I believe it kept me out of a lot of trouble. That doesn’t mean I need to mirror what my parents did, but I think some guidelines are helpful. I mean, we are teaching them how to manage their money, prioritize their time, so why not give guidelines on their dating relationship.
What Should The Rules Include?
As I mentioned, I had a lot of rules for dating when I started. Austin and I began dating when we were 16. Part of that is I was raised with certain things I had to follow, and I tried to incorporate some of that mindset into my relationship. My parents wanted us to go on double-dates with other people they knew. We weren’t allowed to go out by ourselves for a few months at least. Part of this comes from my parent’s culture, where couples weren’t really exclusive at the beginning of the relationship.
For our family, our rules include not spending the night at each other’s houses or going on vacation together. Outside of that, our other discussions won’t really be about rules but more like conversations.
Yes, we’ve had many talks about sex. I can’t decide for them whether or not to have sex, although I’ve counseled that they do not have sex before they get married…well, actually, before they are ready to have a baby. And, I’ve told them they shouldn’t get married until they are prepared to have a baby. There’s no full-proof plan with birth control.
If you have teenagers, these are a few things you may consider thinking about. I’ve tried not to overreact when the kids start relationships with others. I know it can be hard to watch your kids get into teenage dating drama as a parent. But, it’s part of life, and most people go through it. There are some things I try to teach them, and show them in my relationship with my spouse. And there are even more things I can’t wait to discuss with them when they finally meet the one and decide to get married.
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