I have this dating thing on my mind because it is a hot topic around my house, and has been for some time. With 4 kids, aging from puberty to adult, we have had many conversations on this topic, as well as survived all kinds of situations, either personally, or through close friends…
I dated a lot in my day… I never really saw anything wrong with it either, until I really started noticing how many broken families and broken hearts there are in this world. The stats for divorce, unwanted pregnancies, and STD’s are staggering, and could be blog postings on their own…It’s hard to NOT notice how much the sexual revolution has progressed. Dating has changed, and it’s not for the better…The almighty “me” is reigning and it’s leaving devastation in it’s wake.
What is dating anyway? Webster says, An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest. Most folks would agree with that, although, the definition of “interest” can be defined many different ways. It used to mean that you would be looking towards a possible marriage partner, but most of the dating today doesn’t seem to have that goal in mind. It’s become more and more about satisfying our own lusts and desires, without the thought of consequences or the future.
Our society has lowered the bar to the acceptable dating age, and many parents seem to be OK with it.. Some parents even think it’s harmless and cute. Some can argue that it helps kids in deciding what type of person they like, and, that they need to experience those differences to be well rounded. Quite frankly, I think that is ridiculous. A child in middle school, or younger, does not know what kind of spouse they want. They don’t even know what kind of person they are going to be! Jumping from relationship to relationship is not going to help them figure any of that out.
So what do kids learn from dating? All this “practice” teaches them that people are replaceable. If things get hard, it’s time to quit. If something better comes along, well, it’s time to move on. It’s all about how “I” feel. If I’m not satisfied, then it’s over. How many little pieces of a heart can be passed out before all that’s left is so incomplete that it doesn’t work right anymore. By the time they do get married, they have already learned how to walk away. Broken hearts are the norm, almost a “right of passage”, not the exception. Where is the training in unconditional love and commitments, or better yet, covenants?
As a family with Christian values, I have told my kids time and again, that if God is sovereign over everything, that includes your future spouse. You do not need to “try” out relationships with several different people to see if they are the one. You need to be praying for your future spouse now, and have faith that God will bring you together at the perfect time, and you will know it. Of course, our kids haven’t always listened to us. The world is constantly screaming just the opposite, through music, television, and the movies. Even Disney thinks kids should be focused on relationships… Poor Zack and Cody were even scripted in elementary school to chase girls.
Teach your kids to just be friends. Teach them to pray for their futures and to seek God’s will for their lives. When those hormones rear their ugly heads, affirm them, and help them take control of it… and not let those hormones take control of them. Communicate. Healthy relations start with God, then families, and friends. Romance will then have a runway that’s paved accurately.
If you are a parent that has encouraged young dating, STOP IT. Culture is wrong on this one. Look around and see what this out of control sexual desire has gotten us. It all starts somewhere. (1 Thes 4:3-5)
If your kids are older, and are already out in the dating world, or, if you yourself are in it, let me offer some advice. One of the things we had our kids do as they got older, was to prayerfully make a list of the qualities they would want in a spouse. We then told them to strive to BE the person, that person would desire as well… Anyone who fell short to that list, should simply remain a “friend”. God will not only satisfy your list, but he will bless you with someone who has qualities you never even thought of…
The hardest part is waiting. Patience in the world of relationships is almost unheard of. But think about this, it only takes a minute to recall your heartbreaks, no matter how long ago they were. Don’t we want better for our kids? Who they marry is one of the most important decisions they will make in their life. Shouldn’t we be preparing them for it? Be pro-active and teach self control. It will be worth it.
If your reading this, and your heart is still in pieces, and you feel you don’t have much left to give, don’t give up! God is a full restorer of hearts. It’s His speciality. Give it all to Him and let your healing begin… (2 Cor.5:17)
There are many resources available for your kids and for you on this topic. One of my favorites is, Love, Sex and Lasting Relationships, by Chip Ingram. You can find this at www.livingontheedge.org