Dating is a gargantuan subject that often leads to awkward silence.
As the mother of three young girls, two of which society classifies as tweens, I understand how silence might feel easier. Lord knows when my eight-year-old asked me about crushes and love in Subway of all places stuffing my face with a big bite of sandwich lured attractive. But not better.
Without discussion we can’t know what our children are thinking any more than our children can know what we pray for them. It demands sit-down time and the exchange of words.
Interactions with young people affirm this desire. Recently, one young teen wrote that she wanted to start dating but didn’t know what would make a good boyfriend. Her parents hadn’t approached the topic and she feared asking might upset them.
The collective parent heart would scream, “Ask us!” Whether our daughter is eight or fifteen we, in theory, want to be the one to guide the discussion. Youth left to media or the advice of their peers is set up for disaster. Yet we freeze a little bit too, don’t we? Most of the time the questions seem to come from left field, leaving no opportunity to calmly craft the perfect answer in advance and we know everything about their innocence, relationship health, and set up for potential marriage is at stake. That’s no pressure at all.
One thing I emphasized with my eight-year-old was how I knew her daddy was a good man to date. In conversations with teens and at youth retreats I’ve further developed that to suggesting a physical list of date makers and breakers. What is a must to saying “yes” to a date? What are automatic disqualifiers? These forward thinking questions create a natural selectivity to only entertain time with those who might be good for us.
So now I’ve created a simple-to-use date makers and breakers interactive discussion printable for you to print off and use with your child(ren).
Obviously the date makers column is for your daughter (or son – it would work equally as well with a male) to list the necessary qualities (beliefs, character issues, honored physical boundaries, life choices, etc) to agree to a date. The date breakers are qualities that result in an immediate no-go.
The prayer is that this will help protect your daughter’s heart and only encourage date time with people that carry spouse potential. Discuss what your child writes together. Use it as prompt to point out things that surprise you and/or input ideas she might want to consider.
In the parent corner, discuss the age in which dating is allowed in your home and explain why. Follow that up with writing a prayer over your daughter and read it aloud to her. Praying over her will help translate how much she matters to you.
Lastly is the 1 Corinthians corner. If your daughter is in or considering a relationship, have her substitute the boy’s name in the blanks. Does it look like Godly love?
Once completed, encourage your girl to place this in her Bible or sock drawer or someplace where she see will see and be reminded of it often.
The benefit to the simplicity of this design is that it will work to start discussions with children as young as eight who ask about crushes and love all the way to older teenagers in potential dating years. And, as your girl matures it can be re-discussed and adjusted over time.
This is an issue that should be revisited often.
Lord God, today I pray over parents and children everywhere. Lord, help us not to side-skirt the tricky issues but dig in trusting that You will help walk us through. I ask that this tool might instigate good discussion and strengthen Intergenerational relationships within the home. Thank you for trusting us with these children. We pray to parent in a way that honors You. Amen