Good morning, Five Minute Families! Fall is in the air, and that means hot cocoa, campfires, and s’mores! Another thing in the air is love… God’s love and young love learning how to care for one another God’s way. Today, we close out this series about dating. You know, when Kim and I were younger, the conversations in church about dating were quite different. There have been trends about how young people should feel and behave that are not authentic conversations with real-life solutions. Godly parents, you must take back the narrative. Talk with your children about dating expectations. Discuss dating scenarios in the movies and TV shows you watch. Read Scripture about how to relate well with other folks.
We mistakenly told our older children when they hit dating ages not to date because that was the church movement of the time. Now, mind you, we had both dated folks when we were younger, and neither of us really knew how to guide our kiddos with the whole “not dating but still finding” a mate movement. This led to some problems… our older two boys’ first little girlfriends in middle school were kept secret from us. Of course, they only saw these young ladies at church or at our homeschool tutorial, but still, our boys felt that they could not be honest with us with what they were feeling or how to traverse this incredibly important area of life.
After our unsuccessful attempts at the “no dating, only courting” saga of the middle school years, we began again by simply having open dialogue with all of our kids about having feelings for someone else – how to protect a young lady’s heart, how to stay pure in this crazy world, and how to honor God in their relationships.
I remembered then visiting an old friend during college… her dad was running the church student group on the local college campus. While visiting with her there, I began teasing her about liking one of the guys in the Bible group. She said, “no. I mean, well, I did think I liked him, but after watching him a bit, I realized that we wouldn’t really suit each other.” I questioned the way she worded that and she pointed out how her parents encouraged her to be in prayerful observance of someone before she declared or demonstrated to the person that she liked him.
So, five minute families, we offer you the next five ideas to discuss with your dating age (or about to be dating age) children:
First, long before your child begins to say he or she likes someone, begin praying OUT LOUD for your child’s future dating partners. Then, when the time comes, encourage your child to pray fervently when he or she realizes that they like someone as more than just a friend. Just as we said a couple of weeks ago, don’t suggest the kiddo goes up and blurts out, “hey, I like you, date me.” Have them start by bringing their like to the Lord in prayer. Have them pray for eyes to see the person authentically – flaws and all. Have them pray that God will show them if the person is a true believer or not. Pray for wisdom on when to share their like with the other person.
Second, observe all those things thoughtfully. Encourage your child to ask a trusted friend or you their parent to observe with them. It can be observing the big things y’all are praying about but also the little things – how he eats, does she gossip, is he kind, who does she hang out with? As Proverbs 13:20, I Corinthians 15:33, and other verses point out, “A person’s character is known by the kind of company he keeps.”
Third, begin spending time together by including others. Hang out in groups and with family members. Then, the group conversations can become more one-on-one; the group dates can become independent dates. Please note that group dating alone is not good because most of those conversations get interrupted or can stay very surface level.
Fourth, as the young couple spends more time together, accountability needs to be discussed. We have mentioned boundaries and God-honoring behaviors, but parents we cannot shy away from the accountability element in order to help our young people navigate these details.
And, finally, always keep forgiveness at the forefront… forgiveness when the dating child ignores or disrespects the family for the sake of their boyfriend or girlfriend, forgiving yourself if you didn’t teach them or define good boundaries beforehand, forgiving them if they make mistakes, which we all do. You get the picture.
God has a special someone out there for your child. Be mindful and prayerful about what He has in store for them. Thank you for joining us today. Be blessed!