This morning a friend asked me what I would do if my sixteen-year-old daughter asked to have a boyfriend?
That is a big question.
Since I have one adult daughter who is married, and several adult children and teenagers, this is something I get asked a lot.
Honestly, my husband and I are very blessed that God gave us a clear idea even before we had our own children about how we would teach our children about marriage, relationships, and sex. We had both grown up in very different homes. Jeremy’s family encouraged their children to make friends and met girls and find a meaningful relationship, date and have fun finding a mate. My parents were more vague about how to pursue a relationship with others, and left a lot unsaid, and left it to the church to teach us. The one thing I did know was not to have sex outside of marriage, and if I got pregnant before marriage I would be a disgrace. The problem was I didn’t really understand what sex was. I also had no idea what lead to sex. So, once Jeremy and I were married, we decided when we had children, we would build an open and trusting relationship with our children. We would start young teaching them about appropriate relationships and boundaries. Sadly, we haven’t always done a good job of communicating with our children. There have been heartaches and disappointments. But so far, praise Yehovah no real tragedies.
When our children are about 8 years old, we begin teaching them about the difference between boys and girls, and the need for privacy. We show them that God’s Word teaches us to keep our bodies covered and to only share our private parts with our future spouse in privacy. We teach them to talk to us if they feel funny or uncomfortable about their body, the way others treat them or their body. We also tell them it is normal and ok to be curious about their body, but they should never look at someone else’s body or touch them. We also begin to tell them that God has given us a special gift of marriage that one day they will be able to share with someone else.
By opening up this conversation young, we are able to dialogue with our kids, if we see them overly obsessed with their private area, or with someone else’s attention. We make it seem like it is normal to discuss such intimate things in the home.
As our children begin puberty we take them on one on one outings discussing the changes in their body, mind, and heart. We begin explaining to them that as they grow and change they will begin to desire the affection and attention of the opposite sex. We tell them this is normal. We also begin to prepare them for the fact that we do not believe in boyfriends and girlfriends. We tell them they need to have lots of friends, both, boys and girls. We teach them that our family has rules called Above Reproach Living. We explain that because God has a high standard, we want to do our best to achieve it. One of God’s rules is to remain pure until marriage. Another of God’s rules is to not even give the appearance of evil. Because of these rules, we have Above Reproach Rules.
Our Above Reproach Rules are:
- At no time should a man and women be alone that is not husband and wife.
- We do not go to events that are not supervised by someone we know and trust will enforce God’s standards as a young person.
- We do not communicate with someone of the opposite sex one on one in a personal way that we are not engaged to or married to. (Text, messenger, etc.)These rules seem extreme to many, but honestly, we have seen when they are not followed heartache happens. Most of our adult children will quickly tell you they appreciate these rules.
As we lay the foundation of these ideas early, and we create an open honest dialogue with our children, we build in them a desire to obey and trust us. They choose to share their feelings and experiences with us. They tell us when they are having feelings for someone, or desiring a relationship with someone. As they begin to develop the desire to have a relationship with someone we gently remind them what is required of someone who wants to get married.
Someone who is ready to marry is someone who is ready to court/date. If you are not ready to get married then you should not be pursuing a serious relationship with someone of the opposite sex. How do you know if you are ready to marry? Well, honestly, I realize no one is ever fully ready. But Jeremy came up with what he believes is a reasonable list of requirements. So for our children, this is the goal. They need to be spiritually, emotionally, and physically ready to care for someone else more than themselves.
Requirements to date:
- You need to have finished your Hirn homeschooling high school requirements, which includes fully copying the Torah.
- You need to be able to provide for yourself and a family if you are a boy, if a girl you need to bring something physical to the marriage, a car, a job, money, another source of income, furniture, etc. (This shows that you are ready to give freely to someone else.)
- You need to exhibit emotional maturity. (This can be a little hard to determine, but basically, we look for an attitude that says, “I have more to learn and others to learn from.” A heart that is NOT rebellious.)
- A man needs to understand that he is the spiritual leader of his home and that he is ready to be that. A daughter needs to understand she is to humbly follow her husband, yet lovingly, privately give him counsel as the Holy Spirit leads her.
There is no way to completely prepare our children for marriage, but if we begin young setting a good example in our own marriage, and then talking often of the beauty and privilege of marriage our children will desire to keep marriage sacred and will honor our request to wait and seek just the right mate.
Another thing we teach our children is that the most important relationship is the relationship they have with Yehovah God, himself. We want them to seek Him first, and if God has a spouse for them He will lead them to that opportunity. Marriage is not the most important goal in life, serving Yehovah with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is. Marriage is a beautiful privilege, and sometimes God brings us to it. But being single is a gift and privilege too, when we are single we can serve wholeheartedly.
There is a lot more to this discussion on dating and courting and marriage. But maybe I will write more in another post. I hope this beginning information helps you communicate with your children better. Sometimes when I have a hard time communicating with a child, I will read them an article or book that says what I want to convey to them, and then discuss it with them. Maybe this article will be the one for you to discuss with your child.