Before Your Teen's First Date
Raising teens is tough, but when teens want to start dating things can get even tougher. Here is help for parents of teens in making sure their teens have healthy relationships.
Ideally, the process of preparing your teen to date should start when he or she is young. Healthy dating is, in part, about learning how to relate well to others (and it's never too early to teach that). Kids learn from watching others and will build their worldviews based on what they see around them.
If you want your teen to live out functional relationships, do what you can to create a healthy and Christ-centered living experience for them. Get involved in a small group at church. Invite other families over for dinner or a movie and popcorn. Expose your kids to others who live Christ-centered lives.
Fill in the gaps
Teens need to see healthy male-female relationships modeled at home. Statistically, abusive relationships are increasing among even young adolescents, so it's important to find ways to teach your teens about respectful opposite-sex relationships. Talk openly about what's OK and what's not OK in relationships.
God told the Israelites to talk about His commands with their children at home and as they went about their daily lives.
Help your teens decide before the first date where the limits are and how to stick to them. Talk about sex. Talk about expectations. Talk about treating others - and being treated with respect. Talk about how to get out of situations that aren't healthy.
Dialogue with other families. You're not the only one going through teen-dating dilemmas, so find out how other Christian parents are dealing with them.
Think through it
Have a plan, including rules and guidelines. This isn't the time to be your kid's friend. Your job as a parent is to be responsible and set God-honoring boundaries for your child.
Think through important questions. What age will your son or daughter be allowed to date? (Dating too young can lead to getting physical, and younger teens don't' necessarily have the skills to navigate the difficulties of relationships.) Who will your teen be allowed to date? How will you respond when your freshman wants to date a senior? When are group dates allowed, and when are one-on-one dates allowed? Agree as a family with mother and father on the same page with dating expectations.
No crash course can prepare you for all you'll face parenting teens, but open dialogue will help ensure that when dilemmas come up, you and your teen can work through them together.