From all of the books on the subject that I've read, we have come to the decision that we are going to encourage our children to NOT date until they are of marriageable age. Here's what I'm thinking...there are TONS of pros to this philosophy and not really any cons....it's a win/win in my opinion.
Back in the time, dating or courtship was reserved for when a young man or woman was in the market for a spouse. Children did NOT date, have boyfriends, girlfriends or romantic relationships of any kind. It was unheard of. Our forefathers would have laughed in disbelief at how foolishly we treat this subject of children dating just for the sake of dating.
Here's my issue with children who "date" or "go steady" before they are adults. They are practicing for divorce. Think about it. When I was a teenager, I had many boyfriends, I got my heart broken many times, I dumped many boyfriends when I became tired of them, it depressed me and caused me to be tempted physically and to sin. I didn't have the cognitive ability nor the maturity to deal with a relationship and love in a mature way because I was a child with a child's mind and ways.
If we allow our kids to leap in and out of dating relationships all through their teen years, how can we expect them to get married as an adult and remain in the marriage for better or for worse? Teens are practicing for divorce through repeatedly "falling in love" (not really understanding what true love is) having fun, tiring or becoming bored and then ditching the person.
And this is only one of the issues with teens dating! There's the problem of STD's, teen pregnancy, emotional baggage, broken hearts, inability to love maturely, depression, etc.....I could go on and on! Our kids just don't need that kind of pressure when they are growing up. Allow them to be children without all of the adult issues that we have to deal with. Those will come soon enough.
I've already had several chats with Chloe about dating, saving herself, enjoying her teen years with just being friends with boys without all of the pressure. She's fine with it....so far. I realize that we're not that far into her teen years yet, so it's going to have to be an ongoing process to resist what is going on all around her.
Anything that we practice in life over and over we are going to become good at, right? Why do we allow our children to practice "breaking up" with people over and over? We are setting them up for failure when the real thing comes along. They aren't practicing true love and commitment which involves working through problems with a spouse, forgiving, loving your spouse with all of their flaws, serving through sicknesses and times that aren't fun. No, a teen will generally bail when the going gets tough in a relationship and they will do this over and over and over for years!
Then, when they meet "the one" as adults, they deeply struggle with commitment. Our marriage counselors' offices are packed and our divorce courts can't keep up with the workload! The habits of shallowly falling in love and bailing will follow them throughout their lives.
If they've practiced for divorce all through their teens, we can't expect them to remain in a faithful long term "til death do us part" marriage.
Let's begin to set the stage for success in this area. I'm going to let my teens follow their dreams, be who they want to be, travel, study, have great times with their friends....but I'm going to allow them to be kids and not be pressured with adult issues until they are adults and ready.
Let's let our kids be kids. It's a precious time that they can never regain.