So, I pretty much do not have this parenting thing figured out. Just this morning all three of my teen/tween daughters were upset with me before 8:00 a.m. so you can take any advice from me with a grain of salt.
My daughters are at the age where they are noticing boys… and boys are noticing them. <Insert Flushed Face Emoji Here>. Whether or not we are ready, it’s here. Before I get too far into this post, I feel like I need to clarify some of my thoughts about what dating is. I have taught my daughters to see every boyfriend as a potential spouse. Does that mean I want them to marry every boy that comes along? Obviously not. It absolutely is not my hope or desire that they find their soul mate at age 13 or 16. I do know, however, that I married my first real boyfriend… so maybe that puts a little more seriousness/gravity to the idea of my daughters dating young. If they cannot see themselves being with that person long-term, then I ask that they consider why they are in this relationship to begin with. Why invest yourself?
The whole point of young people dating, in my opinion, is to teach them what to look for in a spouse. It’s a trial and error time of life when you begin to look at the good and bad qualities that you may desire to have or not to have in a potential spouse. I want my daughters to know that marriage is serious. It’s a covenant between two people and God and not to be taken lightly. If they don’t see themselves 100% committed to that, then I give them my blessing to break up at any time before that moment at the altar. That being said, dating is a sort of “trial run” for marriage, is it not? Not all of it — I believe there are LOTS of things that need to be saved for marriage. But the way a marriage relationship works begins in the infancy of a dating relationship. For example, I believe the Bible teaches that the man should be the spiritual head of the family. That should start early. I want my daughters to date boys that will encourage them to make Godly choices, that will partner along side them in their walk of faith. I pray daily for my future sons-in-law, whoever they are, wherever they may be. I pray that they are boys now who are growing to be strong men of faith who love God and will help nurture my daughters in the path of righteousness.
Of course, reality sometimes doesn’t mirror what I want. So, how do I handle things when my 12 year old daughter starts texting a cute boy and he asks her to “go out”? (What even does that mean? Where are they “going?”) Well, I’m certainly no expert and am questioning my parenting methods daily, but here are some things our family has put into practice for our children:
- No one-on-one dates until you are 16. (Of course, now that I have a daughter turning 16 next month, I question the sanity of that age limit — like, what were we thinking??)
- Before you are allowed to call this boy your boyfriend, we will all sit down together and meet with his parents. (We have done this three times now – in case you were wondering). If my daughter is going to be spending time with this person and he is becoming one of the major influences in her life, I want to know his roots. I want to meet his parents. I want to put all our expectations and values out there on the table, and I want to know theirs. I also keep in touch with the parents on a regular basis.
- Behavior will be monitored. I know I can’t control what they do when they’re not here, but I feel like it’s my job as a parent to not give my children the easy opportunity to make bad choices. Because, let’s face it… they’re hormonal teenagers and won’t always make the best decision . Boys are not allowed to be here when a parent is not home. Boys are never allowed in bedrooms. The same rules apply if they go to his house (that parent meeting comes in handy for this rule). Phones can and will be monitored. They are charged in my bedroom on school nights.
- We will do our best to keep the lines of communication open. Honestly, this is the hardest one for me. Because I want to know all the things… and it’s hard to find the balance of letting them grow/make choices and mistakes on their own and giving them the advice that can only come through the wisdom of years. It is my hope that my children know that whatever is going on, I love them unconditionally. I am on their side and will always be here when they are ready to talk.
That’s where I stand right now of a parent of tween/teen girls. This season of life is not easy by any means! Then again, no parenting stage is for the weak of heart! I am in constant prayer that I’m doing this parenting thing right, and that my daughters turn out to be Godly Christian women with good heads on their shoulders and healthy relationships despite how much I botch up this parenting gig!