Should I Let My Children Date?

should_i_let_my_children_dateI find it increasingly disconcerting that quite a few of my oldest daughter’s books want to talk about love and relationships. The increasing popularity of this topic brings up the issue. 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” of their time and who isn’t? Should I let my children date?

I firmly believe 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 whom to marry? I wonder if this is wise. 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. To 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 (Christ centered) 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 from the start. Then when a romantic attachment is formed, there are fewer things to learn and less surprises. When they are friends first, their relationships have a solid foundation; especially when that friendship is mutually founded upon Christ.

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 show them qualities to admire and little things 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 emphasize the importance of being responsible, diligent, and patient.

Since our children were young, courtship is something 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 books which center on this topic, and if she reads a book which happens to have a relationship involved, she usually gives it little thought. However, when the topic does come up, it is nice to know we can have an open discussion about our faith and personal beliefs, using this topic to help our children make the best decisions for the future.

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
~II Timothy 2:22

📢 Chime In!: Are your children old enough to date? How do you help them learn to choose the right spouse?

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13 thoughts on “Should I Let My Children Date?

  1. It’s hard decision. I myself never “dated” and my children will be raised the same way. It was hard especially when people around you are dating and becoming involved. You feel left out. But I always had family and friends so I never felt alone and that is what I try to provide and make my children understand.I also help them understand when the time comes the person that is meant for them will come into their lives. I know that sounds cheesy but I believe in that 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You bring up an important subject of which I have seen multiple sides through other families. I have seen non-dating relationships where unhappiness was under the surface, but the opposite has been true as well. What I find to be important is how the parent views dating.
    Parents set the definition for most views in life. If the parent views dating as bad, the child will also develop this view. If, as a parent, I construct an appropriate idea of what dating is, then I am able to set boundaries that my children will adhere to. As you mention, your marriage is the first step at showing your children a positive relationship.
    As in most aspects of life, relationships do not fit in the preconceived construct. There is no true formula. For me, I found like-minded individuals were unappealing and bland for me. It took me time to experience life and different people before I met my spouse. My upbringing was very influential as was my wisdom gained through life that brought me to a person, though no like-minded, held similar views and beliefs as me.
    This is a large topic to discuss in a single post or comment. What is certain, whether you allow to date or not, as parents we are the first and foremost who should teach our children what relationships and courtships are as well as how understand their feelings. Teenage years are full of hormonal and developmental changes, and without a parent’s guidance, the pitfalls become a large magnet for our children to fall into.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are correct, it all starts with us.

      I should clarify one point. Being ‘like-minded’ would perhaps be better written ‘Christ-minded’; people who share the same moral values and seek the Lord’s will. This is key! No matter our personality differences, likes and dislikes, when the Lord is the center of our relationships we can never go wrong.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. My husband and I strongly promoted courtship when bringing up our children. However, when our son became interested in a lovely girl he’d met through homeschool speech and debate, we quickly realized how awkward it could be. It wasn’t long before we dumped courtship and went to more of a dating method. We have discovered that if you raise your kids right, and if they themselves embrace Biblical principles, that it really doesn’t matter what method you use. The important thing is giving them opportunities to get to know one another better.

    On an added note, Josh Harris recently asked forgiveness from his readers after coming to the conclusion that some of the ideas presented in “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” had messed up a lot of young people. Personally, I’ve seen problems in every method. Nothing is perfect, that is why we need the Lord’s guidance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As is usually the case, I wonder if finding an appropriate definition for our ideal is the trouble.

      I dislike the notion of our children going out with guy after guy, after guy, after guy under the guise of ‘finding the right one’. We’ve seen too many young people do this, and it’s worrisome. They run the risk of getting a poor reputation, and not being taken seriously by someone who is seeking a genuine relationship.

      However, I understand how the traditional idea of ‘courtship’ can also be an issue.

      The ideal would be that our children do neither. As mentioned in the OP, our children are encouraged to seek friends and the Lord’s leading. When the Lord speaks to their hearts, then they should proceed with moving forward.

      It should be noted, these are our guidelines for older children not adults. Once adults, while I would hope our children would seek our council, we have no intention of running their lives. If we’ve laid a solid foundation for our beliefs, our children will make Biblical decisions in all areas of their lives – dating amongst them.

      Great thoughts; thanks for sharing!

      Like

  4. I think you are onto something. Encourage your children in their relationships, and encourage the relationships to be healthy. Don’t micromanage them. If they are old enough to date, get married etc. realizing that you will not be the person living in the relationship is a good thing. Offer advice, support, but don’t make it fit into a box.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I never went out on casual dates. I got to know a guy by talking to him or hanging out in groups. Once we were sure there was something there we made a commitment to pursue the courtship. Most of our dates were in groups or us watching movies at home with family nearby. I’m 27 and I’ve been married for almost 9 years now. With all the divorces and pregnant teens courtship is the way to go. I never felt weird or out of place by courting instead of dating. Being a Christian in today’s world means being out of place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Erica. This is very good to hear. I’ve tried to encourage my children, 3 of whom are adults in college, that God has a plan and the right one for them. So far, we’ve had no dating, but a lot of time spent mutually interacting with men and women in group settings. I have thought much about this lately and how to prepare for this next phase….CERTAINLY MUCH PRAYER…Thanks for sharing your positive experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I found a great book that gives practical, workable guidelines for the dating/courting dilemmas. It’s called “Dating with Integrity.” It redefines dating with a Godly perspective. The problem that I’ve seen with courting is that it’s hard for a young person to bridge the gap between being “just friends” with people of the opposite sex and “we’re ready to get married in the next 6 months.” The courting relationship hopes to keep kids from dating/dumping/dating/dumping but seems (in my experience) to hype up a couple relationship so that it is a very committed thing. If the relationship falls apart, it’s much more hurtful because courting, in many of the circles I’ve seen, is a much more serious relationship.

    So for our family, dating is not a date/dump thing. It’s for finding a spouse. Period. For this reason, young dating relationships are discouraged. Seldom do the 13-15 yo relationships turn into marriage.

    For older teens and young adults: Be friends with people of the opposite sex in all sorts of areas of life. Be friendly and open. Enjoy the company of guys and girls. It’s okay! Relax. When you find someone you’re interested in, have coffee. It’s just a cup of coffee. Have a casual relationship and don’t ask for a commitment until you are able to follow through. (casual doesn’t involve sex or physical affection that you wouldn’t offer to any other member of the opposite sex. Treat the opposite sex the same way that you’d treat your opposite gender sibling. Intense affection implies a commitment that you may not be able to follow through with.)

    So Don’t have one on one dates with people you wouldn’t consider marrying. But don’t be afraid of growing closer to a person either.

    Above all, behave yourself in dating in a way that if you and the person you’ve been seeing were to run into each other at the mall in 20 years with their future wife and kids, you would be able to genuinely smile and greet without embarrassment.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Girls can approach dating as a purely a social thing because of their social nature. Guys, no matter how “nice”, have a pig gene. Any time spent alone with a girl will activate the pig gene faster than a room full of plutonium will activate cancer. So, “No”, no dating. Take time to get to know someone first in a platonic, non-dating, situation; then, when you decide they’re “the one”, get married quick to avoid any inevitable trouble.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. What a coincidence — I heard a sermon a couple of hours ago about friendship, and one of the main points was to marry someone you already consider a good friend (someone you can love “warts and all”). So true.

    This is an important topic to think about before your children get old enough to be interested in dating. Other than becoming a christian, it’s the most important decision a person can make, in my opinion. Your choice of spouse affects every aspect of your daily life.

    Liked by 1 person

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