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?