This entire blog series started last spring. One afternoon, our son announced that he wanted to go to dinner with a girl from school. We had always said that he could not date until he could drive. We knew that we needed to establish some guidelines in the upcoming months, but we had never factored in that he might be interested in a girl who already had a driver’s license! Somehow, after all the conversations, conferences and books, we still felt unprepared. Would we let him ride with her? Chris and I had a conversation and we decided to reach out to our good friends the Tashies before we jumped into this world of teen dating!
Here are some nuggets of wisdom to ponder from Kendall…
1. Prepare your teens for dating before they are teens.
Your teen has never had this kind of relationship with a girl or boy before and will be faced with situations he or she has never had to deal with.
Before each of our girls reached dating age, my husband would take them on a date to show them how they should be treated. He did things like open their car door, seat them at the table and let them order their dinner first. Girls need to be treated like ladies. He also told them the kind of conduct he expected from them.
My husband began training them at an early age how to respectfully treat women. He would open doors for me and require the boys to do the same. He also sat down with each of them and told them in detail what his expectations were and what their code of conduct should be. It is good to write this down and give it to your son before they begin dating.
2. Be specific
Be very specific in the standards you want your teen to maintain. Whatever you neglect to tell them says, “I am leaving this to your discretion.”
We told our children things like:
• Don’t kiss everyone you date. A kiss is reserved for someone you think is very special.
• Don’t sit in the car to talk. When you reach your destination you need to get out of the car.
• You can’t share a blanket. If you are watching TV and you are cold each person must have his or her own blanket.
• You must have a light on in whatever room you are in.
• You may never have all doors closed.
• You may never have opposite sex friends in your bedroom, or be in theirs.
• If you are ever uncomfortable on a date, you need to call us right away or use us for an excuse to go home.
3. Provide Accountability
Before most dates, we would remind our teens that their date belongs to the Lord, not to them! We required that every young man who wanted a date with our daughters must come talk to Pete first. Fathers and single moms, make sure that the young man knows you hold him responsible to treat your daughter as the treasure she is to you.
We also required our sons to meet the young lady’s father, whether or not the father required it.
A basketball tournament spared the Conlees from making this first step into dating that weekend… love it when God takes care of the details! With the help of the Tashies, we can all be more prepared for this inevitable and normal part of development. Thanks, Kendall!
Join us next Tuesday as we talk about the stresses and strains of your child’s wedding…