Socialization Part II: The Dating Trap
Vickie and I have two teenaged daughters—one is in her late teens. They are clearly and objectively attractive girls. But neither has ever been on a date. And as far as we are all concerned—girls and parents alike—there is no likelihood that there will be any dates in the near future.
Vickie and I are of the opinion that we have not invested more than a decade in home schooling attempting to raise godly children just to have all this hard work thrown away by allowing our girls to marry some unprepared spiritual midget.
Our older daughters have committed themselves to the idea that they will pursue a relationship with a boy only when it is consistent with these three principles:
- Both the young man and I are prepared for marriage.
- I am investigating this particular young man because he appears to meet the spiritual standards my parents and I have agreed upon for a husband.
- I find him to be personally interesting and attractive.
The vast majority of people engage in dating based solely on the third criteria. I know I did.
In home-schooling circles there is a lot of talk about courtship versus dating. The major difference between courtship and dating is discovered by simply following all three of the above-listed criteria rather than engaging in dating based solely on personal attraction and interest.
Dads have a special responsibility to secure their children’s commitment to following all three of the above principals in relations with the opposite sex. Don’t wait until they are sixteen or seventeen. You will have waited far too long. I can’t remember for sure how young our children were when we first began discussing these matters. But I know that by the time our oldest daughter was ten or eleven years old, serious discussions were underway.
In fact, it is never too early to start teaching your children a different standard from the world. When I was growing up, it was expected from the earliest ages that every boy would have a girl friend. I can remember the name of my “girl friends” in second grade, third grade, and fourth grade. Three different girls. This set a pattern for many years of my life. The cultural expectation was that all of us would be pairing off into romantic relationships more than a decade and a half before any of us could legitimately think of marriage.
These early relationships were not harmless. Not only did they set bad patterns, but also encouraged emotional commitments that seemed to pop up from time to time for a number of years.
By the time I was in junior high, some of my friends were engaging in sexual intercourse. After all, they had been “going with girls” for years and were tired of waiting for “the real thing.” I was considerably more innocent in this area than some. But I was not totally unscathed. I paid a great spiritual price for this involvement.
Vickie and I have raised our children with different expectations. Any discussions of boy-girl relationships is always in the context of a possible marriage partner. As a consequence, even our beautiful, blond seventeen-year-old daughter has never had a boyfriend. And she has no regrets about this. Obviously, we are thrilled.
The same things are true of our fifteen-year-old. And our twelve-year-old. Many of the girls their age are already seriously into dating and more.
Let me re-state this preventative principle: From the very earliest ages, raise your children with the understanding that the whole area of boy-girl relationships is to be reserved for the time of life just prior to marriage.
I know for a fact that I was indoctrinated into the “religion” of secular humanism through secular education. But the damage done to me by that indoctrination was less severe and easier to correct than the damage done by the societal philosophy of early dating.
The vast majority of parents want their children to abstain from sexual relationships until marriage. However, we have failed to see that abstinence should include emotional abstinence as well. In other words, if we permit our children to develop boyfriend-girlfriend relationships before they are ready to get married, we are simply asking for sexual temptation, and in many cases, sexual trouble.
Adapted from The Homeschooling Father