Got a teen?
- Friday, August 28, 1998
Dating is a crucial process in a child's life. Teens need the guidance of their parents to combat other dating influences in their lives, such as television, music, and friends.
- Develop a plan before you develop a problem. Parents need to establish rules of dating before it becomes an issue. No other significant area of a child's life is so unsupervised.
- Set aside time to think through what you believe is important for your child to know about dating. Let the child know what age he or she must be before you'll approve of dating.
- Parents who deny a child an opportunity to date leave that child with a tremendous handicap. Better that they learn about dating while still at home with the supervision of their parents.
- Sons and daughters deserve different rules. Girls will often be asked out by boys their age or older, while boys will ask out girls the same age or younger. A girl is often in a social setting with older, more experienced young people - a situation that is potentially more harmful.
- Help them to be comfortable talking about their bodies, and teach them the correct anatomical names.
- Discuss purity with your teens as you teach them about sex. Help them understand the importance of a commitment to purity, to saving their body, as a most precious gift, for their spouse.
- Dating should not be something a child is thrown into. It should be a gradual process of learning, supervision, and practice. Training must start before the first date,.
- Have Mom- or Dad-dates with your sons and daughters, respectively. Show them proper manners and the nuances of dating. Begin as early as 10 years old. This also enriches the parent-child relationship.
- Teach children about the emergencies of dating, whether in a social setting where they feel unsafe or are pressured by a date for sex. Let them know that you will always be a phone call away.
- Teach appropriate dating behavior: appropriate physical contact in public, appropriate places to be with a date, etc.
- Middle school is not the time to begin dating as couples, or even double-dating. It's a time for group activities. Develop with your child a clear understanding of behavior, clothing, and activities that are acceptable.
- Curfews should be set according to the age of the teen and the activity. They should be extended when the teen has been observing the curfew responsibly over a period of months.
- Be sure to meet the date your teen will go out with. Have fun with the meeting, don't interrogate.
- Double-dating is a great way to begin practicing the process of dating, and provides a safety net in numbers.
- Help teens learn how to turn down a date in a friendly and appropriate manner.
- Have a post-date discussion. Be available when they get home to listen to how their evening went, what they did, who was there, and to answer any questions they might have.
Taken from Preparing Your Child for Dating by Dr. Bob Barnes. Copyright (c) 1998 by Robert Barnes. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1-800-727-3480.
Dr. Bob Barnes is executive director of Sheridan House Family Ministries and the author of several books, including Raising Confident Kids and Ready for Responsibility. He is a frequent conference speaker and hosts a weekly radio program, Family Time Radio. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with his wife and two children.Dr. Barnes and his wife, Rosemary, conduct parenting or marriage seminars across North America. For more information on seminars, books, or tapes, please call 1-800-838-1552 or write: Dr. Robert Barnes, Sheridan House Family Ministries, 4200 S.W. 54 Ct., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314.
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