Evaluate your consequences and how you follow through with them. Consider how well you’re disciplining your teen when he or she does something wrong, and how consistently you’re following up on the consequences you’ve set for wrong choices. Make sure that you’re letting your teen know that you’re committed to teaching him or her life lessons – no matter how costly the teaching process becomes – because those life lessons are crucially important.

Evaluate your lifestyle. Are you the kind of role model that God wants you to be for your teen? Does your teen see you as a person to emulate when he or she grows up? Be completely honest with yourself as you reflect on the choices you’re making about your relationship with God (such as how much you really make Him your top priority in your daily decisions) and your romantic life (such as your purity if you’re single or the condition of your marriage if you’re married). If you identify any changes that you should make to become a good role model for your teen, ask God to help you start making them right away.

Set dating rules and boundaries. Discuss your family’s values with your teen, and work together to come up with specific dating rules about when your teen may start dating, who your teen may date (only Christians, only teens from families you know well, etc.), where your teen may date (which places) and how your teen may date (as a group or individually, chaperoned or not, curfews, etc.). Help your teen think through specific dating boundaries to protect his or her purity (such as no kissing or closing doors for privacy while on a date), as well. Then write down the dating rules and boundaries in a dating contract and have your teen sign it. 

Talk through dating scenarios. Imagine a variety of different dating situations, and talk with your teen about each one, helping him or her figure out how best to deal with those circumstances in case your teen ever encounters similar circumstances while dating. 

Monitor your teen if he or she begins to date, and step in to help whenever necessary. Make yourself available at any time to rescue your teen from a dangerous dating situation, and make sure that your teen knows he or she can count on you to show up to help whenever necessary. Be alert to signs of abuse or date rape and break up any unhealthy relationships in which your teen becomes involved.

Adapted from Hot Buttons: Dating Edition, copyright 2012 by Nicole O’Dell. Published by Kregel Publications, a division of Kregel, Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., www.kregel.com

Nicole O’Dell is a mom of six; host of Teen Talk Radio and Parent Talk Radio; and the author of more than a dozen books, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series. Visit her website at: www.nicoleodell.com

Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles. Contact Whitney at: angels.guide@about.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer. 

Publication date: November 13, 2012