My husband is a little crazy. Well, okay, he is a lot crazy! When our oldest daughter turned sixteen, we gave her permission to start dating – double dating, that is. No single dates until she was eighteen. When her date came to the door to pick her up, my husband answered it, dressed like a Viking and carrying a big axe. He asked the young man how much he valued his car, and mentioned how much damage that axe could do if his daughter was a minute late returning home. And of course, he’d better not touch her. My daughter later mentioned that at one point during the night, this boy accidentally brushed up against her and immediately jumped way back, stammering an apology. For some strange reason, he never took her on a second date.
What makes the thought of your teenager dating so frightening? Several things come to mind:
- Your child is becoming an adult, which means they might not need you as much.
- Your child could get hurt – physically or emotionally.
- Being alone opens the door to sexual activity.
- Sexual activity might lead to pregnancy or STDs.
- Since you marry who you date, this person your child is going out with just might be your future son-in-law or daughter-in-law. What if you don’t approve of them?
Dating is a scary prospect for parents. There are so many questions and concerns to be dealt with and you need to be prepared to answer them. Here are some questions to consider – sooner instead of later.
- At what age should you allow your children to begin dating? Should they be allowed to date one-on-one, or only in groups? Are they allowed to have a steady boyfriend or girlfriend?
- What time should curfew be? Are curfews negotiable? Who is going to be driving? Where are they allowed to go?
- Should your teen check in with you periodically? What consequences will there be if your teen breaks the rules?
And here are a few really important ones.
- Does your teenager feel comfortable talking to you? Are you comfortable talking to them?
- Do they really want to date or are they feeling pressured? If something isn’t quite right, can your teenager come to you for help and support?
- Do they know you love them and that you will listen? Have you let them know they can call you and asked to be picked up, no questions asked?
Focus on the Family offers this advice:
“Teens that date often experience rejection. Be sensitive to their pain. Listen. Shows like The Bachelor promote lies, betrayal and pain — not the life-long commitment of marriage. Help teens establish personal boundaries by encouraging them to respect their values and their bodies. Discuss sexual temptation and ways to avoid it. Offer safer options like double dating in public.”
There are many other websites that can help you to prepare for this rite of passage event. Here are a few:
When all is said and done, probably the most important things to remember are to keep the lines of communication open and to let your child know that you love them and that you are always there for them. Oh, and go get yourself a Viking hat and an axe!