The Dating Dilemma

My Guy and MeI find it increasingly disconcerting that quite a few of my oldest daughter’s books want to talk about love and relationships. She is, after all, only eleven!!

Given the increasing popularity of this topic, it does bring up the issue of dating and relationships. When will I find it acceptable for my children to focus on a relationship? How do I help my children to recognize who is “worthy” to be dated and who isn’t?

I firmly believe that there is a difference between dating and courtship. Dating, even by definition, is informal and meant for an appointed time. Courtship is a long, drawn-out process by which we become better acquainted with someone, with the end goal being marriage.

Very often young people are encouraged to date and “test the waters”. After all, if they don’t date, how will they know who to marry? I wonder if this is wise though. What if dating only encourages our kids to take their relationships less seriously?

I wonder what would happen if we encouraged our children not to date, but instead to become the best people they can be. That they should give their lives over to God and live solely for Him. Then, when the Lord feels they are ready, He would bring the right person along. What if we put our trust in Him and didn’t worry about trying out the dating world?

What about knowing who is “right” for them? Here is a revolutionary thought; what if we as parents, simply lived out good relationships for our children to see? They would know what a good husband looks like. They would know what a good wife looks like. If we encourage our children to study their Bibles and focus on serving the Lord with their lives, then they too will know what to look for in a spouse.

If we encouraged our children to not date, but instead be surrounded by like-minded friends, our children would have a greater opportunity to meet people who are real. They won’t have to worry about “putting on a good front” or discovering who the person is; they will see them for who they are right from the start.

By being friends first, our children will have an opportunity to get to know each other and see where their friends’ hearts really lie. Then when a romantic attachment is formed, there are fewer things to learn and less surprises. When we are friends first, our relationships have a more solid foundation; especially when that friendship is mutually founded upon Christ.

My husband and I were friends for about three years. We never considered marrying each other; he was older than I and neither of us ever considered the relationship a possibility. One day, out of the blue, our relationship became something more. (Literally, it happened in one day!) Because we already knew each other, because we were already friends, there was very little we needed to learn about each other. It came as no surprise to either of us, that on that very first “date”, we decided to get married. Three months after our first “date”, we got engaged and four months after that, got married.

Now, I am not saying that all relationships should go as quickly as ours did, but why not? If we had already known each other for three years and knew so much about each other, why not go ahead and just get married? The only other things we needed to learn were the details… how many kids we wanted, what our life plan was after having kids, and things of that nature. Because our relationship was centered on our beliefs and because we were such good friends, it seemed only natural that we would move on to the next step and to do so quickly. (I will also note, this is a good plan so as not to become tempted by desire, as Christians believe in remaining pure until marriage.)

In raising and homeschooling our children, we have a greater opportunity to show our children what a good marriage looks like. We can show them not only the good, but how to work through the hard. We can show them the qualities to admire and the little things that we need to look past. I can train my daughters how to keep their homes and my husband can teach our son how to provide and protect his family. We an emphasize the importance of being responsible, diligent, and patient.

Since our children were young, courtship is something that we have engrained in their minds. The idea of being friends and getting to know people before becoming romantically involved. The idea of preparing yourself, before you go looking for a spouse. The idea of waiting on the Lord to bring the right person, instead of searching out the desires of your own heart, which can often lead you astray.

Thankfully, my daughter seems to skip right over the books that center on this topic and if she reads a book that happens to have a relationship involved, she usually gives it little thought. However, when the topic does come up, it is nice to know that we can have an open discussion about our faith and our personal beliefs, using this topic to help our children make the best decisions for the future.

Are any of your children old enough to date? How do you teach them about choosing the right spouse?

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13 thoughts on “The Dating Dilemma

  1. “…dating and courtship…” – understanding the difference is part of the key. It is very common for courtship to be misinterpreted as dating. Then we have the “I love you.” statement flowing.
    You touch on many points. Parents educate their children by their actions. This first education points the child in a direction good or bad. The next step are the peers. This can be influential or non-influential. One of the biggest factors is inside the child’s brain. We really do not fully understand what is going on inside other than to know the teenage years are the relationship growth years. Everything is in hormonal turmoil, and the development of interaction between the sexes is growing. Teenagers need this development period. What is the best method to help the teen develop?
    This is where I believe the parents do the most good or damage. Too strict and you run a very good risk of having the opposite of your intentions happen. Too liberal and the worst can happen. I have seen the results of being strict and liberal. Neither have the most desirable outcome. It comes down to a judgement call on the parents and the youth. Children need the freedom to make relationship decisions, but it is the parents that must guide them and not make the selections. There is no true timeline of a relationship. It can take years to develop. In the relationship spectrum you see several months to ten years, yes, ten years.
    This leaves the unanswered question of when is it age appropriate for dating. We simply don’t know. It has to do with the maturity of the youth and not the parents’ wishes. We as parents can only guide. How do we teach children about selecting the right spouse? We guide them in the principles of respect. I do not add religion for there are some beliefs that place one spouse in a submissive position even though I use my religious belief to strongly influence my children.

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    • You are absolutely right! There is so much going on in that important stage of their lives.
      As parents we can guide, but we must trust in the job we have done and give them the opportunity to make some of those important decisions for themselves. The key is balance and a good foundation.
      Thanks for your helpful insight and for the additional advice!

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      • I am 13 going on fourteen and have found that dating isn’t worth the time or stress. I love being able to have a good time with all my friends and don’t have to worry if I’m sitting to close to someone else (really why i don’t date). That doesn’t mean i don’t get super excited when a song by One Direction comes on it just means I don’t want to have to deal with all the drama.

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  2. completely agree! I love how you address some tough topics that really require some thoughtful responses…
    and I admit it, it feels good to know someone else out their seems to be like-minded to our God-given values.
    btw… you are as beautiful on the outside as you seem to be on the inside. love the pic!
    ~Sheri

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    • I appreciate that the topics are taken in the light that they were given. I am not meaning to be harsh or judgmental, but rather would like to provoke thought.
      It is great knowing that I am not alone in my values.

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  3. We teach, in our home, that dating 1) is not Biblical (don’t see it anywhere in Scripture); 2) dating is really just another word for “auditioning” for marriage; and 3) dating didn’t even become an acceptable practice until the popularity of the motor car (think about it – before that gentlemen callers were expected to visit with a young lady in her home with her parents -or- attend a social gathering with lots of guests).

    Dating and “serious” teen relationships are not healthy for each member of the duo. There is pressure to perform (in many ways/areas), there is investment of physical or emotional affection, and there is risk (physical and otherwise).

    In our family, dating is not acceptable. My kids will not date. They know this and they understand why. They have wrapped their brains around the reasons, and they can explain why they agree. My kids will begin to look for a God-given spouse when it is appropriate (age-wise, situation-wise). They will not date several people to narrow down their choices. They will, however, identify who God has pointed to. It will most likely be someone who is already their best friend, who shares their values, who shares their zeal for God, and who has similar life goals. THAT’s how it works when kids don’t date.

    Thanks for raising this topic!

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  4. I bet you have it, but if not, you must get “The Princess and the Kiss.” (can’t use italics now- sorry!) 🙂 Love that book! :))

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    • I have both “The Princess and the Kiss” and “The Squire and the Scroll”. We love those books! I have the study guides for both and will probably start going through the girls’ guide with them, fairly soon.

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      • We have “Squire” too, but I didn’t know there were study guides! I’ll check it out! Thanks bunches! Great tip!

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      • I think the guides are a great idea. If you look at the site, they even suggest going through the guide and then you can buy a charm necklace through the company. The charm is a box, in which you place a diamond, which is then sealed into the box. The idea being that the diamond represents her innocence. When she meets the right guy and he asks her to marry him, she gives him the box to have opened and then placed into her wedding ring. Isn’t that beautiful? I am not sure if that is what the Lord is instructing us to do yet, but I do like the idea!

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  5. What a great post! My son is only six but he calls his girl buddy, his girl friend and they talk about marriage. Sometimes I have serious talks with him that he won’t know who the “one” is until God tells him and he’s old enough to get married.

    I dated when I was young and I regret it. My senior year I stopped dating and chose to focus on God (which I should’ve already been doing). After I graduated my friend “Dover” from youth group fell for me and I him. We were married a year later. We were virgins but I still wish I had saved my first kiss for him. I have a great book about a princess saving her kiss for her husband. I read it to my son over Valentine’s. I also enjoyed “I kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Hello to Courtship”. I don’t want my son to date and I hope to prepare him to be a good husband.

    I love my best friend’s daughter and arranged marriages happened in the Bible lol. Still I don’t know if she’s the one. I’d hate for them to form strong ties and be wrong for each other. I try to tell my son to save his kisses for his marriage.

    I regret giving my heart to so many people. I truly believe there are soul ties. They still bother me. It would be so much easier if Chris were the only guy I ever kissed etc. I can’t imagine how it would be if we weren’t virgins. Praise God for that much!

    Also, I think even in Christian culture there is way too much focus on marriage being the grand finale………like a husband will be prince charming. Even if someone marries the “perfect” Christian that person will still let them down and time changes people. Our main focus should always be Christ. He is the ONLY one who can fulfill us. Little did I know that my perfect prince would be drastically changed by the effects of war. I myself have changed so much because of deployments and the death of my father. We are not the sweet naive couple we once were. We have scars. But true love bleeds and it’s not always pretty. Kids need to know this. I guess the best way is by example if possible…

    Sorry to ramble. God bless!

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    • What are friends for, if not to let you ramble and share your thoughts? I would like to think that I have met a lot of neat friends through WP and that you would be one of them!
      I too wish that I hadn’t spent so much time focusing on other things when I was young. I wish I had focused on what was important and not what I thought I needed.
      Marriage won’t always be painless and war often changes the inner person, but I am so happy to hear that you have not let it conquer your relationship and that you are working through it all.
      ‘The Princess & The Kiss’ is truly a charming book. I pray that my daughters take it to heart!
      Thanks for sharing!

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      • Awll thank you 🙂 WP has a lovely community and I’m glad to have another friend :). Yes, even with all the marriage books nothing prepared me except my relationship with God. He is the one who keeps us going and I don’t know how anyone can make it without him. “The Princess and the Kiss” that’s right…loved it and there’s also one about a boy being a knight. It’s not the one about the scroll though. We’ve yet to read that one. My Dad and I went to a Father-Daughter Purity Ball and that helped. It was beautiful. I pray my son will grow up to be a good husband and father if we are all around that long. It looks like your daughters have a great legacy to look up to and a super mom :). I’m sure they will do great. God bless friend!

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