The Benefits of Teen Dating Include Growth
Certainly dating contributes to our teens’ social development and makes them more relatable to their peers. It could be argued that for the teen disciple, it helps them to “become all things to all people (I Corinthians 9:22).” I remember a single sister in San Diego who worked with a lot of other single men and women at a local newspaper. Monday mornings her co-workers made a b-line to her desk to hear about her weekend. She had by far the most consistent, fun-filled, interesting dates of any of them: flying kites at the beach, painting tiny watercolors of a sunset and exchanging their masterpieces as mementos of the evening, group jigsaw puzzle contests, in-line skating and coffee house concerts. She never had stories of melodramatic fights, or hang-overs, or shame. She never had to apologize for limiting her dating to the church fellowship of which she was part because her friends envied the carefree, fun single-hood she enjoyed and many came out to church with her for that very reason.
With proper guidance, dating among disciples can help develop conversational skills, expand their fashion awareness with a modesty quotient, build their confidence in interacting with the opposite sex, and provide a lot of good, clean fun! It also builds memories of happy, normal teen years that they’ll share with their own children one day.
The Dangers of Teen Dating Demand Caution
All the benefits of teen dating can be overshadowed in an instant by a dating experience that produces guilt, secrecy, and shame. We won’t sensationalize this article with details about Jamie Lynn Spears, current pg-13 movie fare, or projections about STD’s, unwanted pregnancies, date rapes, or abortions. Nevertheless, the world is pulling at our teens to accept perversion as “normal”. The world glamorizes impurity and immodesty. If our teens can grasp the contrast in worldliness and godliness, Proverbs 11:22 will make sense to them: Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
Unless our children learn to be confident in setting godly boundaries for their conduct; they can find themselves vulnerable to the ridicule of the “friends” who are encouraging them to try drugs, or alcohol, or sex, or to blow off curfew, or to attend venues their parents have forbidden. Wise parents will establish within their children the value of a good reputation. This is not about people pleasing. It is about being strong enough to face criticism for pleasing God.
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
It’s a jungle out there. As parents we must keep a clear view of the standards of God in spite of our cultural indoctrination to the contrary. Our children need to see our convictions fully formed and yet feel that we’re on their side. They need to know we want their teen years to be fun and exciting and that we are willing to make sacrifices, but never compromises, to make it so!