Wednesday, February 22, 2012

To Date or Not to Date

You know when you have 2 college students and 3 teens this will be a common topic in our household.  We are navigating the waters of training and influencing our kids towards healthy relationships.  Whether they date, are friends, or dealing with parents.  Parenting the grown child is more about leading and guiding them than it is making their decisions for them. 

We are all about helping them learn the pro's and con's and them looking at what 'they hope' to have in relationships in their future.  You have to take them down the road some and then back up to today. 
  • What kind of marriage do you want? 
  • If you want that kind of marriage then who should you date?
  • If that is who you want to date then why are you making the choices you are making?
  • Are you being the type of person that someone like that would want to date?
  • What does God say about relationships?
  • Do you think you are doing this right or maybe you should be making a different decision?
They need to know their choices today WILL affect what happens tomorrow.

We want to help them learn to make wise decisions for the next time too!  So just drawing a line for them doesn't help them learn how to process a given situation for tomorrow.  This doesn't mean there are not times to draw lines...because there definitely are those times!  Part of the joy of parenting...we get to figure out when those lines should be drawn.  Sometimes we will do this right and sometimes we won't.  Thank goodness we know that God can work through our weaknesses when we mess up, He still has His "A" game on!  
You can't teach a toddler to walk if you are always holding them up during those first steps.  You have to let them try it on their own, let them find their balance, and step in when needed!  We find the same thing is true of our teens.  Trust me...we don't stray far from our teens.  They need us here for the support just in a different way than they did as a toddler.  And so far...we haven't had a teen walk too far off from our desire/advice.  They do make decisions we would prefer they not make, but they haven't been HUGE wrong choices.  They have been stumbles that they can recover from.  We allow those times which seem to present good opportunity for teaching and training. 

Our goal is to walk these paths with them, through the good, the bad, the ugly, while we talk, analyze, discuss ways we can handle a situation or just giving them another way to look at something.  We are finding they are really open to what we have to say when we treat them with respect and allow them to be heard.  We need to hear them so they can hear us. (Often we hear them but they don't believe we do...this takes time and sometimes we aren't listening but we pray we get there sooner or later!)  I will say you have to hang on and fight through the preteen years before you have their listening ear.  All 5 of our teens have first 'bucked the system' so to say.  Then after some type of dilemma or struggle we have found we get opportunity to pour into their life.  With prayer and seeking wisdom, we have been able to gain their trust.  We don't take this lightly!  Each child can choose their own path.  God gave us a free will so anything could happen. 

Our hearts prayer is that God would continue to teach us how to guide our teens through the tough years of learning who they are, what they are to become, who they will hang with, and what does dating and marriage look like! date or not to date? 

Hmmm....can't say our kids date and can't say they don't.  Every situation and every teen/college student is different.  We tend to talk about not labeling yourself in a relationship until you are moving towards marriage.  Once you are labeled then you are moving towards being exclusive and we just feel that isn't necessary until you are older.  We talk about walking God's path and not following the cultures norm.  We challenge them to see if they are living a life of purity.  AND...are they honoring those of the opposite sex.  We hope our kids enjoy going out with good friends...keeping it fun...keeping it as a group....and keeping yourself accountable.  

It is a hot topic that I am sure will be discussed for many more years to come.  We just pray they keep us in their loop to offer parental wisdom and let us walk with them.  There may be times we have to draw a line but so far with a lot of love, talking, and listening...they have seem to be headed towards good decision making. Of course, we have many more years of this and 8 very different personalities so you shall find us...
  • on our knees often 
  • absorbing all the parenting tips we can find
  • looking for mentors just ahead of us in this walk
  • asking forgiveness from our kids when we miss handle a situation  
I do have to say although this is a difficult stage to walk, it is a JOY to walk with our kids!  How's your walk?


1 comment:

  1. Shannon, You are truly a treasure! Thanks for sharing from your heart and your life experiences. You are one of the ones I am "absorbing" that wisdom from. . . and I am grateful!