When is your teen old enough to date?

Who to date? Where to go? How old should a person be before they can date? What should be expected in a dating relationship? These are all questions that parents need to help their teens answer. Whole books have been written on this, but in this article you will find a few things that may be helpful to you as you help your teens traverse the treacherous landscape of teenage relationships.

Healthy relationships develop with prayer, time, and service. This sounds simple, but the truth is that healthy relationships take effort. This is so true when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. One way to develop these relationships is through dating. Teens are old enough to date when they are able to deal with the relationships emotionally, physically, and spiritually. As parents we have the responsibility to help them get to this point.

Relationship tips to share with your teens:

  1. Only date/marry Christians-you can argue about this all day, but the Bible is clear in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Hold this up as the ideal.
  2. Relate dating to God's purpose for your life. Romans 8:29 indicates that God wants us to become like His Son.
  3. Keep you informed of their plans and whereabouts at all times.
  4. Remember your curfew and don't push the curfew limit. If there is an emergency or situation that will make you late, call. Lateness and missing curfew opens the door for mistrust.
  5. Bring your dates home to meet us.
  6. Make decisions about relationships before you get emotionally involved.
  7. Be careful not to defraud or take advantage of your dates.
  8. Protect your reputation; it is very difficult to repair a damaged one.
  9. Wait for God's timing in marriage. God has a plan for your life and will bring the right person along at the right time.

Instructions for you as parents:

  1. Teach boys to treat girls like ladies.
  2. Teach girls to expect to be treated like a lady.
  3. Know something about the date and his/her family.
  4. Teach manners. Nothing can replace Christian courtesy.
  5. Let your teen know the expectations.
  6. Keep lines of communication open.
  7. Don't make hasty decisions when you are angry.
  8. Give reasons behind your decisions.
  9. Be willing to be the tough person.
  10. Listen and be compassionate.
  11. Set boundaries and keep them.

This is a long journey. Helping teens make the journey under God's guidance can pay huge dividends.

Chuck Gartman has served as a youth minister for more than 20 years and has parented three daughters through the teen years.

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