It’s safe to assume every parent dreads the day their teenager begins dating. Suddenly the days of toy trucks and princess dolls are gone forever, now your children must navigate the dangerous waters of love and heartbreak. As a parent, you want to make sure your child stays safe and makes good decisions, but how do you accomplish this while respecting their independence? One option is to Facebook-stalk any potential suitors and show them your gun collection whenever they drop by the house. However, the healthier alternative would probably be to stop controlling your kids and start coaching them.
Mary DeMuth, of the blog Your Life Uncaged, believes this approach will ultimately benefit children as they grow older. She writes,
“Coaching your teen through dating is like teaching how to ride a bike. At first you hold the bike (akin to having great conversations about dating and marriage before the teen years), vowing to hold on as they learn balance. Eventually, if the child is ever going to ride alone, you have to let go and let them pedal. It doesn’t mean you run away. It means you run alongside, shouting encouragement. You can’t prevent every fall.”
“Nor would you want to because every fall teaches them something valuable. But you can be near enough to pick him when he does fall. You can believe in him, you can provide a protective helmet and teach the rules of the road. Running alongside gives quiet confidence. He will believe that he can actually pedal a bike down a path without falling. Even if he does fall, he has a loving parent to console him.”
School will soon be back in session, and with so many children beginning their freshmen year as teenagers, DeMuth’s advice may be hard for some parents to accept. Teenagers can be rebellious, and this often drives parents to become more controlling instead of less so. Yet, DeMuth isn’t the only source of wisdom for those terrible teen years. In a recent Crosswalk article, Debre Fileta offered some practical words for both parents and teenaged girls as they started this new chapter in life. Fileta reminds young women,
- “You are valuable standing alone! I wasted so much time during my teen years focusing on guys! I felt insignificant and alone without their attention. I wish I would have known that my value is something that I choose to believe in– not something someone gives me. Girls, you are amazing, beautiful, and special right here, right now, just as you are. Don’t ever give in to the pressure to use your body, your words, or your actions in a compromising way just to get his attention. You are enough. Learn to believe that now, because that truth will change your entire life!”
- “Your parents might not always get it, but they usually know what’s good for you. I know it’s hard to believe now, because it seems like they are so far removed from what you’re going through, but one thing I wish I would have done during my teen years is actually pay more attention to what my parents were saying. They knew me and loved me better than I even knew and loved myself, and the limits they set were almost always for my good. Now that I have children, I see that more than I ever could have imagined. I wish I would have trusted them more.”
Being a parent is a tough job, but whatever challenges you and your children may face, remember that God loves both of you and desires the best for you. He walks with us in all things, and that is a very encouraging thought.
What about you? What can you share about teenagers and dating?
*Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com