7 Steps to Raising a Teen Who Won’t Date Too Young

7 Steps for Raising a Teen Who Won't Date Too Young

My two girls are often the envy of some of the other moms in the youth group for one reason–they both have sworn off dating until they’re 18. (Here’s a video of my 16-year-old talking about why she’s not dating in high school). It’s not because they’re geeks or they’re ugly; quite the contrary. They’ve both been asked out many times, but they both give the same answer. They don’t date. Dating at this age, they say, is ridiculous.

Several of the junior high moms keep asking my 13-year-old to convince their own girls of that fact, because they feel their girls are too boy crazy.

Perhaps you think this is over the top. I’ve written about this before, and we are definitely not all in agreement on this one, because many people don’t see anything harmful in dating when kids are teens. It helps prepare them for real relationships, so the story goes.

I understand, because I once felt the same way. Josh Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye changed my mind, but it was only the first in a number of things that did it. I want this post primarily to reflect how I raised my kids to agree with this, but here are just a few of the reasons we’ve adopted this idea with our family:

1. The purpose of dating is to marry. If you’re too young to marry, you’re likely too young to date. The only repercussion of dating is perhaps a broken heart.

2. Date too long, even if you sincerely love each other, and you open yourself up to a lot of temptation. In fact, perhaps even because you seriously love each other. All those legitimate feelings have nowhere to go, because you can’t marry yet.

3. When you date a lot, you often leave same-sex friendships by the wayside, and these are the years that you need to learn how to be a good friend.

4. Similarly, if you date a lot, you may decline other important things, like going on missions trips, or taking jobs, or doing some ministry you might love, because the person you’re dating isn’t involved. You miss out on finding out who you really are.

We can discuss more in the comments, if you’d like, but I frequently get moms “in real life” asking how I got my girls to agree not to date, and so I’d like to share it with you moms “in cyber space”. And if your kids aren’t teens yet, read on, because you have to start these things when they’re young if they’re going to be effective later!




1. Start Early

You can’t wait until they hit puberty and then start lecturing them on how dating is counterproductive and can be harmful. Start when they are young children. Otherwise you’ll just end up getting into a fight about it. Your kids likely have friends who all want to date, and it’s very hard to go against the tide unless you’ve been brought up to believe that that’s what you would do. Teach them, from a young age, that we as a family believe in marriage, not dating, and it’s better to wait until you’re ready for marriage.

2. Talk Up Marriage

I always talk to my girls about how their aim should be to find someone to marry. And frequently, when we’re talking, we talk about what sort of person is important. They want someone who loves God, who they can debate with, who will be a good provider, who will be good to them, who wants to have a close relationship, who doesn’t believe in divorce, who does believe in family. And many of these traits don’t come out in boys until they’re older, anyway.

We also talk about how you could miss this person if you’re dating too young, because you could get sidetracked from the one who really is right for you. Dating too often is about self-esteem rather than choosing a mate, and that doesn’t bode well for the future.

Part of creating a marriage focus in our house is also watching what media we consume. Cut down on TV time for kids. Don’t let them watch shows or movies that are all about teen dating, even if you think the shows are cute. If you’re watching a movie that emphasizes dating over marriage, talk to your kids about why that’s a dumb idea, and why marriage is really the purpose of dating. Monitor your kids’ movie, TV, and music intake to make sure that the stuff they watch actually teaches the values you have. Marriage matters.

We help our kids to focus on marriage, and we talk about where the most likely places are that they will meet such a man. So they’re focused on the future, they’re not focused on right now. And we also let them know that it’s okay to marry young–to marry still in their early twenties. That way they take relationships more seriously once they start, and know they don’t have to wait forever.


3. Talk Honestly About Relationships

Talk to your kids about anything and everything. Whenever they want to talk, even when they are little, talk to them. Tell them what you are thinking, too. Don’t just let them set the stage; if you think something is important, or if you’re confused about something and trying to work it out, tell them. Let them know that your relationship is one in which people can bounce stuff off of each other; that you are a person that they can turn to to talk to.

Then, when they start hitting the age where kids their age are dating (let’s say grade 6 or 7), make sure you ask them what they think. Tell them what you think. Encourage them to talk to their friends about it (in a nice way). Help them to be leaders.

The more you talk to them, the more they will come to you. Keep open doors of communication all the time. Find time one-on-one with your kids, even if it’s during certain chores, like washing dishes, you always do together, or taking walks or jogging, or chatting before they go to bed.

Talking has another side effect, too. It’s not just about explaining why you shouldn’t date. Kids who are able to talk to their parents are far less likely to date. They already will have high self-esteem, so they don’t have to prove it by finding someone to “like” them.


4. Encourage Your Children’s Relationship with Their Dad

Whether you have boys or girls, encourage their relationship with their dad, as much as you can. Girls especially need to feel loved by their father. My husband and I take ballroom dancing lessons every week, but every now and then I get sick and can’t go, or I’m out of town. So Keith takes one of the girls, and he teaches them how to dance. It’s fun, and it’s something they’re doing with their dad.

My husband doesn’t spend as much time with the girls as I do, but they still love him, and they still talk to him a bunch. Sometimes I encourage them to take walks by themselves. But the other thing I do is that I leave. I speak a lot on weekends, so I’m not here all the time. And when I’m gone, they have their own routine of what they do and what they eat. It’s fun.

Don’t be afraid to leave your kids with your husband. From a young age, start leaving them occasionally so that your husband is free to establish his own relationship with them. Both girls and boys need that sense that dad thinks they’re okay, because if dad thinks they’re okay, both genders are less likely to need to date when they’re too young.

And if you’re a single parent, with an ex-husband that isn’t very involved? That’s okay! Just talk about how much you pray and want a strong, healthy marriage for your children. Comment on those who have strong marriages. Talk about the benefits of a strong marriage. Make sure your children know what you want and what you expect, and they’re more likely to walk in that direction!


5. Keep Them Busy with Friends

Encourage your kids to have friends over as much as possible–and mixed groups are absolutely fine. Encourage your kids to have friendships with the opposite sex–as long as that is what they are: friendships. We often have youth at our house, or if there’s a youth activity, I’ll make sure my girls attend. Kids need friends. But group events are the best to get that need met. This way they learn how to act with the opposite sex, and they’ll learn what sorts of character traits are important to them. But they’re not as interested in one-on-one (and indeed, they don’t have as much time for it).


6. Encourage Hobbies/Jobs/Adventures


Teenage years are great years to discover your giftings, uncover your passions, and learn who God made you to be. Encourage them to do these things. Get them excited about something, whether it’s writing a novel, starting a business, earning their own money, or playing the guitar. Encourage them to serve in church, or to go on missions trips. Give them a wide range of experiences, as much as you can, and you’ll find they’re less likely to fixate on whether or not they have a boyfriend/girlfriend because they’re just too busy with better things.

Now I don’t believe in making families overly busy, but many of these things teens can do without affecting your time very much. They can practice guitar or piano; they can work on their own business; they can go on missions trips in the summer. Talk to them about what you see in them; affirm the giftings that you see that God has given them, and then look for ways for them to live that out.

My 15-year-old, for instance, has a jewelry business with a friend. They have tables at several craft fairs near Christmas time, and they make a decent amount of income. They spend a lot of time researching their craft, and figuring out what next year’s line is going to be.

Rebecca also teaches piano, and works with little children at our church. And she’s starting to teach swimming lessons a few hours a week. Now we homeschool, so she’s home the majority of the time. I don’t know if I’d want my teen involved in that many things if she also went to school, because I’d never see her. But encouraging teens to be involved in things that they’re passionate about, and to concentrate on creating something new, is wonderful because it harnesses a lot of their intellectual and emotional energy.


7. Pray Lots

Pray about your children and their relationships and their hearts. Pray for their future spouses–and let them know that you’re praying for their future spouses. Many times kids want to date because they’re afraid if they don’t, they won’t get married. Show them that you are confident God will lead them to a spouse, or that God has something even better in store. And show them that dating now can actually undermine these plans.

If you’re not nervous, they won’t be nervous.

And that’s about it! Notice how I haven’t said “forbid it” or “ground them for life”. That’s never been an issue in our home. One day, of course, it may be. The girls might meet someone that they really do love, and might really want to date. They’re still young, and I have no guarantee that they’ll keep the mentality they have now until they’re 18. Would I forbid it?

I’m not sure. I think “forbidding” dating doesn’t end a relationship; they just move that relationship to Facebook and phone and texting. I would likely forbid one-on-one dates and just encourage them to spend time at our house, where I am there.

But so far it hasn’t been an issue because I’m not trying to be negative about it–“you can’t date”–as much as I’m trying to be positive about it–“marriage is worth the wait”. And I’m giving them the reasons, and I’m helping them to get involved in other things.

That’s worked for us. So if you want your children to put off dating until they’re 18 or so, then follow these things. Talk to them a ton. Create a very close family relationship. And pray lots.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

UPDATE: Just thought of one more, so it’s really 8 ways to raise a kid who won’t date too early: model a great relationship with your spouse. Let them see how marvelous marriage is, and they won’t settle for something counterfeit. They’ll want that.

Gross Parents

Sheila is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. Sign up for her monthly parenting ezine to get great articles like this one!

On Teens, Dating and CourtshipFeatured Products from This Post:
I Kissed Dating Good-Bye
Do Not Conform Wooden Plaque
Encouragement – Daughter, I Want You to Know – 3 Premium Cards
For I Know the Plans I Have For You Wooden Plaque
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Pray Continually Plaque

UDPATE: It’s been two and a half years, and my girls are now 16 and 18. Here’s an an update to this post about how this strategy worked. Check it out!

This post contains affiliate links.


  1. >We've taken the same route, re-thinking dating, because honestly my husband and I both know, when we were teens, we needed better guidelines. The type of dating we were allowed to participate in was a waste of time. Our time could have been better spent while waiting for one another, had we been given better direction during those years. Why waste so much time and emotion on someone who will not be a part of your future?

    Our gals are quite content remaining friends w/ the guys in their lives, keeping their eyes on what is most important, growing in their relationship with their Heavenly Father as they patiently wait for their lives to unfold.

    To encourage your young ladies, let them know my gals are out of school(21 & 18), and life is grand. They've stuck to their commitment to not date the way the "world" dates. They've set different standards as Christian young women, and are living much calmer, contented lives compared to young women they know who are dating someone different every few months. Those gals are in emotional turmoil a lot of the times, and it's pretty easy to see that too much time has been wasted on what was never meant to be.

    • I’m not sure focusing on marriage to ward off dating makes sense. I have a 3.5 year old little girl. I do not want her to date before she is ready. In my opinion self confidence and a strong family relationship are key. Girls often date early because they and are looking to fill a void created by lack of a strong sense of self and/or weak relationships with men in their family, primarily their dad.

      Deterring dating by promoting marriage is counter productive. A girl that longs for marriage will lust for marriage. Dating is the first step down the isle. Secondly, if somehow you are successful in postponing premature dating while promoting marriage, once they start, they’ll be more apt to settle.

      Building a young women’s self esteem through family friends and activities is in my opinion the right path to follow. Promoting marriage and deterring is like promoting graduation and deterring going to class. It doesn’t make sense.

      • I suppose focusing on marriage depends on the personalities of your kids. I have 3 girls, the oldest is 8 years old, and they can’t wait to get married. We haven’t drilled this into them, they just see us enjoying being married and want the same thing. And most fairy tales end with marriage. Of course, they have all said at one point (not understanding yet) that they want to marry Daddy. This seems to be how many little girls are by nature. I think it’s a good thing to emphasize marriage to the person that God has for you. And no matter what, because not everyone marries, God is the perfect husband who will always be with them.

      • I disagree with your comment on focusing on marriage isn’t a good way to postpone dating. I think focusing on marriage is a good way to postpone dating until someone meets someone that is ready for marriage. Any dating that is not for the purpose of leading to marriage is entertainment and entertainment between genders generally does not end well unless the goal is marriage. Dating also leads to a young lady giving a part of her heart to each man she dates. Depending on how many people she dates, there may not be much “heart” left for her husband. I could not date until I was 17 years old so 2 weeks after that I went on my first date. My next date was when I was 26. That date and all subsequent dates were with the woman I married. I teach my kids dating isn’t the goal; finding the mate God has for you is the goal unless he wants you to remain single. Your other points on self confidence and strong family are definitely keys that allow one to wait for the right person.

        • I have mixed feelings about dating without the initial intent to get married. On one hand, I don’t think you should date someone you absolutely could never see yourself marrying. Dating for “entertainment,” as Peter put it, doesn’t make a lot of sense. However, some people need to figure out what kind of guy/girl they want to marry. Before I got into my very first serious relationship, I could have painted a nice picture for you of what I wanted my future husband to be like. Now that I’m actually in a serious relationship, I have a better understanding of what I’d like in a husband. I wouldn’t necessarily call it trial and error, but in a way it is. Obviously if I disliked everything about this boyfriend and could never picture myself marrying him, I wouldn’t date him. Going into the relationship, I wasn’t focused on getting married. I was focused on upcoming dates and whether these dates would continue.

  2. >Our 2 older teens in high school do not date. They both know that when you like someone you don't mess around with their heart. We've put guidelines in place early on that to some sound a little over protective, but we've explained to our kids it's to protect the integrity of the people your with. For example, never find yourself alone with a member of the opposite sex. Never take a ride alone in a car with a member of the opposite sex. These safe guards just help so much. Our kids are encouraged to have friends of both sexes, not to fear the opposite, but to make smart decisions. I follow these guidelines too to protect my marriage. I disable my chat on facebook, I guard my marriage. I want my kids to know their best friend for life as that, a best friend, before they feel called to marriage. And that happens well after highschool. Thanks for this courageous post Shelia, it's not popular in the world, but it's right.

  3. Herding Grasshoppers says:


    I'm glad you pointed out how you frame the discussion in such a positive way with your girls.

    You're helping them make good, positive plans for their future, for their relationships, not just putting up walls.

    Thanks for the encouragement 😀


  4. >We feel exactly the same way and have stressed not dating too young for both our daughter (19) and all of our sons also! I was proud of my daughter when at her check up she was asked if she was sexually active – when she smiled and said no…I don't date – I will court – but I was hugely upset when the nurse said – "OH RIGHT! Mom's in the room..I believe you!" like it was a lie! So sad – but it gave my daughter and I a good jumping off for a heart to heart about what the world sees as acceptable!
    I have had adults ask my 10 year old if he has any girl friends and even had one parent of a little girl (8) offer to take them to the movies together so they could "date"
    It's so nice to see that there are other families who value marriage and see dating as the means to that end! Not something that needs to happen too young!

    • My husband and I are trying to conceive so I have been online reading parenting blogs, books etc to get a jump start. Maybe my feeling are completely opposite from most of these comments because I am not yet a parent. However, it seems to me that this expectation of young people not dating is unlikely. I have younger siblings 13 and 16 that date. My parents would probably be on this site saying the same thing as these commentators ” my child understands why it is crazy or a distraction to date at this young age”, “my child is honest with me ” , etc..
      It is natural to want to enjoy somebody you have a crush on. I don’t think restricting dating changes anything. They will date either way. I agree it only results in heartbreaks and energy wasted away from more important things in life. They are not going to find the love of their lives or even benefit from any of these relationships. Althoough I think it is more important to teach your children abstinence or safe sex.
      Remember what it was like when you were a teen or a youngster .. I don’t think we can have completely different expectations from what we did.

      • It is either our expectations as.parents or the cultures sexually saturated expectations. If we have no expectations of something different then we are actually endorsing an unbiblical model. Either we agree that what the bible says (fornication is a sin) or we agree with the world (oh they’re going to do it any way….which is a defeatist attitude). I just happen to think that maybe God knows what is best for life and his boundaries actually produce peace in life…. It is I possible to maintain purity before marriage. I have many friends who maintained this standard…and they are happily married.

  5. >My second son waited until he was 21 before he began courting. He's now married and everyone is always telling me what a wonderful DIL I have (as if I had anything to do with it!). She is an absolute gem and we couldn't have chosen better for him ourselves. Our third son has just entered into a courtship, and like his older brother, first prayed and sought advice before doing so. Although we don't yet know a great deal about this girl, what we have seen of her and her family leaves us in no doubt that she is also a lovely Christian girl who we would willingly welcome into our family.

    We've told our sons to pray about their future spouse from the time they were very young. Although I had dated as a teen, my husband didn't until he met me, and he has repeatedly told our children that the way he did it was best (he's right too as he avoided a lot of the heartache that plagued my dating years).

    I know of many parents that would like to see their children not date but seem to think they don't have the right to tell their children 'no' because they dated themselves. Well I dated and I wish now that someone had given me an alternative.

    • thank you for raising your sons this way!! our 14 yr old has chosen not to date till 17 or so, and her friends all know this but it didn’t stop boys crushing on her. One even took tablets :-( such a difficult time. Teaching them to guard their hearts – way to go!

  6. >My husband and I started dating in high school (I had just turned 15), dated all the way through college with a brief breakup, and got married as soon as we could after I finished college. 6 years of marriage later we are still happy and in love.
    That being said, I am still not a fan of teens doing one on one dating. I tend to think my husband and I lucked out- aka God had a lot to do with it. :)

  7. >We are also on the same page as you. I dated quite a bit in my teens, and as an adult I realized that it really wasn't beneficial at all. So I've told my children that, and pretty much followed all the steps you outlined.
    The main "drawback" is that my two older girls don't always enjoy their youth group friends, who spend too much time talking about boys, and boring stuff like that! :-)

  8. >I love it when I see teens who like to DO things as a group instead of pairing off and/or making everything about flirting. On the other hand, it irritates me greatly when I am out with my husband and there are young people all the way from 10 to post college age, sitting at a table, obviously on a date, one or both on their cell phones/ ipads. Ridiculous. Can someone please announce to Americans that it is rude to be on the phone in public places? Even when phones were dial up, it was only at fancy shmancy restaurants where important people like doctors, the president, etc. liked to frequent where you would regularly see phones all over the place. Ok. So I've had my rant, and no, I am not old. Great post. I totally agree.

  9. >great post! I really like how you are encouraging your daughters, but not bringing it on so strong that if they were to choose to date at 17 or so it wouldn't be forbidden. I know some families that have adopted this type of idea, but it is so strictly enforced that the way I see it, it is restricting the girls' from having healthy friendships with guys.(which I think is super important!!) I also have a problem when things are brought across that "I will only date the guy I will marry". The problem I find with this idea is that often young couples will end up getting married instead of breaking up because they have commited to only dating the person they want to marry and don't know how to realize that sometimes life isn't as idealistic and doesn't always work like that. The purpose for dating is to find a marriage partner, that means if you've been dating for a while and find that things are not really working out you can get out of the relationship before a bigger commitment is made!

    So as I said, I like your approach, I find it very reasonable, but I have come across some ideas (with good intentions) that end up going too extreme.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I think you’re very wise. My parents urged us to date with the intent to find a spouse, and although they never specifically said “only date the person you’re going to marry”, me, in my little heart internalized that almost as “no break ups.” I KNOW that that is NOT what my parents intended, and it hasn’t been detrimental to me, but I do wish that my parents had specifically made that clear. Even when you are dating with the intent to find a spouse the first (or second, etc) person might not be the one.

  10. >I'm a father who made a point longago of keeping our daughters close, and the doors of communication always open.
    Keeping your home open to their friends is crucial. That way, you know who they're with, , where they are, and most importantly know their friends, of both genders.
    While dating is not acceptable (we teach many of the things in your article) we know they need to know how to relate to members of the opposite sex in a mutually respectful manner. We have told the girls that the best way to lose a friend of the opposite sex is to date them (with all that modern dating implies) because of the complications that ensue.
    So keep open communication, and also an emphasis on common sense, and the odds of getting teens through to adulthood purity intact will increase.

  11. >When I was a teenager I was given a lot of rope and dated whoever asked me. I also slept with a lot of guys gecause I thought they would like me and although I have 6 sisters and a mother, nobody ever told me to respect myself, that I didn't have to sleep with them and that I was too young anyway. Thankfully I met a guy when I was 18 and lived with him for 10 years. (I say thankfully because I don't know what would have happened to me if I had kept sleeping around) We broke up and I dated another man for two years. He died in a car crash when I was 6 months pregnant and when my son was three God saved me!

    I read Joshua Harris book, I kissed dating goodbye and thought "this is for me'. I started dating a Christian man who had read the book too and eventually we married, having our first kiss on our wedding day.

    Now my son is 12 and he understands that there will be no dating until he is a man. I agree with all you have said and I think that your approach is good. My son is not saved and I don't know if the Lord will save him so I can't tell him to marry a Christian woman. However, I can and do teach him that marriage is an excellent thing and that he should covet this for himself.

    I live in a very dark place where almost all kids are dating before they are teens and I know that we stick out like a sore thumb but I am counting on the Lord to continue to take us thorough these times.

    Only God can change a woman and make her feel like a virgin on her wedding night after living the life I did, and this same God can, if he chooses take our children through these difficult years with all the strength, honour and hope that they need.

    Thank you for posting your thoughts. God continue to bless you :0)

  12. Phyllis@Aimless Conversation says:

    >Good, good word Sheila. My 15 yr old is actually writing a persuasive speech for competition (NCFCA) on this very topic. I prayed a lot when the boys were little & handed the Josh Harris book to him when he was about 13. He formed his own opinions after reading it. I think he's taken a stronger stance than I would have! :)

    It's time to hand that book to our 13 yr old & begin the discussion w/ him. I would agree though, that modeling a good relationship w/ your spouse as well as being VERY selective about media influences in your home lay a great foundation for later years & discussion.

    Love your blog…wish I had time to drop by every day!

  13. Marc A. Pitman, CFCC says:

    >Wow. I'm almost a year late to this party but: thanks!

    This is a great post. I heard all sorts of "yes dating is fine" and "no dating is not" when I was in highschool & college in the late 80's and early 90's.

    But I don't remember hearing it in the context of dating restricting you from exploring God's call on your life.

    I guess I did hear that. But it's easier to hear after 16 years of marriage. :)

    Now that I have kids 11, 9, and 6, this topic is quite timely.

    So once again, thank you!

  14. Great great article. I am on the opposite end but this still applies. I am a shy, shy guy who had trouble going after girls. I have just recently begun to be assertive.

    However, I don’t think that means jumping into relationships. It means going slow, which I have been doing. By being insecure and afraid I missed out on learning to relate to women and possibly marriage at an earlier age (I’m in my late thirties). But now I can get those opportunities by hanging out and dating women without it monopolizing my time (until I finally find one I feel really should be monopolizing my time). The relationships I had in the past were with women who went after me and pushed me to go real fast. I often either ran away, or jumped on board (or jumped on and off and on and off). None of that was good.

  15. This is great, Sheila! I’m going to be posting about what you have to say on August 9th and linking back here.
    Lisa recently posted…{download} Moving Out From OverlookedMy Profile

  16. Okay, it’s is amazing I got to this page. In the car today I was just thinking on this topic (I have a 12 year old). I was not “allowed” to date until I was 16. Then really didn’t because I was too busy with school, activities and work. I did go out a few times and there were “crushes” that weren’t returned. In college I “let loose” and even with a Christian upbringing did things I would like to go back and not have done. In the car I was thinking how it might be better to let my oldest start dating more at 15 or so just so we can help monitor the situation (vs them going off to college and having no parental oversight). Now reading this, I’m not sure how do I overcome the main concern of my kids not making similar mistakes I did by “looking for love” in the wrong places. I had really strict parents and don’t feel like I had low self esteem.

  17. I wish my parents had talked to me more about this kind of stuff when I was a teen; I’m not positive that I would have listened, but I probably would have made better choices as a result of seeing that they cared. They weren’t bad parents at all, but they just assumed I would walk the correct path because they raised me in church and taught me responsibility and morals at a young age, but they never bothered to sit down and talk to me about dating and sex in particular. I met the guy who God had created perfectly for me when I was 20, so a little over one year ago. I had always prayed that God would set aside a man for me who was pure, but I never trusted God enough to believe that He had such a man waiting for me. I sobbed for days, and struggled with forgiving myself when I learned that my man was not only a virgin, but I was the first (now only) girl that he ever dated and kissed. We are engaged now, and we are planning our wedding for next year. It’s a humbling experience being with a guy who waited so patiently for you, and picked you out from a crowd because he felt led to. God has taught me some wonderful lessons through that man about what true love and forgiveness looks like, and how marriage should truly glorify Jesus and point towards Him. Now that I know what I know, I am already praying for the spouses of my unborn children, and praying that God gives me the discernment to raise them up in a way that glorifies Him. I want to show my future children the value of waiting (a lesson I leaned the hard way), and never assume that not talking about it will prevent them from making wrong choices. This is a great article! And I plan to weave some of these things into my own parenting guidelines some day. God bless!

  18. I have such a problem with relatives who constantly ask my 2 oldest daughters (9 and almost 7) if they have boyfriends. I always explain, no, they are too young and have many other options than just “having a boyfriend”. Maybe I am not the norm, but I don’t push marriage as the only options to my daughters. I want them to wait not just because of marriage, but because I want them to see that they are more than just someones girlfriend or wife. I want them to experience life and get to know who they really are and have a better idea of what they want from life and a relationship.
    I tell them there will always be time for boyfriends, its pretty much a given. My 9 year old knows how babies are made and is starting to put two and two together (asking many many questions!) about teen Mothers and young unwed Mothers. I feel if most kids would wait on single dating then there would definitely be less pregnant teens.
    Most of all, I try to teach my children to have respect in themselves. I have always had respect for myself and I know now that is what had saved me from following many of my friends footsteps down the wrong path. While I did meet my now husband at 16, I had standards and luckily for me he met those. We waited to marry until we were 23 and 24 which now I see as probably too young to be married. We are still happily married after 11 yrs and counting and have respect for each other. My daughters get to see that and be part of it.
    Marriage is not a fairytale, its work and not an escape from a bad situation. It doesn’t right an “unwanted” pregnancy. It doesn’t fix any problems or insecurities. How many at 18, 20, 24 know who they really are and what they really want? If you can go to college and change your major as you grow older because of your experiences and changes you have gone through, who is to say that won’t happen in a relationship? I will always love my daughters no matter what, but I hope just by our occasional talks, not lectures, stay with them as they grow and and start leaving the nest more and more.

  19. “I always talk to my girls about how their aim should be to find someone to marry. And frequently, when we’re talking, we talk about what sort of person is important. They want someone who … will be a good provider,”

    Seriously? In the 21st century, this is what you are telling your daughters? I’m all for kids delaying dating for the other reasons you’ve stated (#3 & 4), but I just find it sad that anyone would encourage their daughter to judge someone’s fitness as a life partner by their ability to support them financially. That’s pathetic.

    • Not really. If you want to stay home with your kids, and if that’s a huge priority for you, then finding someone who shares that value is exactly the right thing to do.

    • I would also say that being a good provider can mean things in addition to making a decent living — like giving emotional support and being a good partner in making sure we have the things we need (physically, spiritually). Also, I’m glad to read this article, because I want my (still nonexistent) children to think like this some day. Thanks!

    • I think it is pathetic that it cannot be accepted that a young woman may want to find a good provider. Being independent as a woman does not mean that a woman has to be alone and provide for herself. If you don’t value bringing your daughter up this way, then please do not make such harsh comments towards someone who does. She is not forcing you or anyone else to conform to her opinion, she is writing an article about how she raised (is raising) her children, and it is for the benefit of like-minded parents. Disagree all you want, but as an independent single woman (before marriage), I was searching for a man who could be a good provider for a family – not just financially, but spiritually, emotionally, ect – it is not as pathetic as you may think, I still work part time so I can be home with my children and we can manage bills, but he provides in all the ways our family needs so the family structure that WE desire can be a reality. Be respectful of people’s ideas. There is nothing wrong with teaching a young girl to be independent, but if she desires to find a husband, it is not wrong to want a husband who can lead.

      • Elizabeth says:

        My parents always taught me to find the four F’s in a husband. Faith- is he a strong believer? Family- is his family functional? You learn what you are raised with, and no matter what anyone says you marry the family. Finances- can he/is he willing to provide for a family? does he spend his money wisely? Fun- is he fun!? do you enjoy being with him?

        At the same token my parents MADE me go to college so that I COULD support myself, if need be. Being a stay at home mom is a goal of mine, but living in southern CA may not make that possible. And, as my mom so bluntly puts it, “You may find a wonderful husband who will provide for you, but what happens if he gets hit by a bus some day? You still need to be able to provide for yourself if need me.” So I was raised with both, find someone who will provide, but DON’T make that your plan A. I think my parents are pretty wise. :)

        • jkpeach says:

          I agree with basically all that you said, but I hope that you share that “family” factor graciously. It just reminded me of something one of my teachers said at my Christian school. His parents encouraged him to break up with someone because her parents were divorced, and he did so (and is now happily married to another teacher I had). However, I remember often wondering after that whether I would be “accepted” by a godly man in the future because my parents were divorced,though I know it is wrong and refuse to be, hence my previous hesitation to date men in the past. Even worse, my mom later got pregnant by her (at the time) boyfriend and turned away from everything she taught me was right. I don’t have a good relationship with my mom even though I try because she is mentally ill and though she would never admit it, she has verbally disowned me (and my sister) and told me she didn’t want to speak to me again multiple times, starting when I was just a teenager. My fiance (thank God!) knows all this and just loves me more for (as he says) the effort that I show towards my family, my mom and little sister especially. I do thank God my fiance is from a wonderful home with his parents still happily married and his sister is now a missionary wife. God has blessed me more than I could imagine!

          • I’m the same way! My parents are divorced, and I was always so grateful that didn’t matter to my husband. I have to say that I hope my girls marry guys from great families–but I’ve also told them not to rule out someone from a bad family, if their relationship with God is rock solid.

  20. I like this. I have a 3 yr old son. I am a 30 yr old single mom and his dad signed over his rights so is no longer in the picture. I started dating very young which also led to sex waaaaay too young. I feel that the first lesson in “dating” for my son will be my example. However, out of nowhere lately, he’ll be 4 in Nov 2012, he makes comments about girls. Ex. while watching football he will say about a cheerleader, “oh mom, i like her, shes pretty” or “mom i like her tummy.” Others around think it’s funny, but I don’t. This happens almost any time the tv is turned on (which isn’t that often), or even out in public. I know boys hormonal sex drives are different than girls but I most definately want to keep my son from becoming a “mans man” or following the “boys will be boys” trend. I also, don’t want to shame him for those comments. Any suggestions on how to handle this with him or am I just being to conservative about the issue?!?!?!

    • jkpeach says:

      I’m not a mother but I have a (sheltered) brother with autism who comments similarly to me and asks difficult questions sometimes. Perhaps you could just encourage him that God has blessed him with wonderful eyes and that it’s important to use those eyes to make other people feel important. Girls feel important when boys look them in the eyes, so he should make sure he does that (instead of looking at their bodies-or if it’s easier to say, instead of looking “down”). Also, when the time comes, teach him that to make women feel special, he should respect them and one of the best ways he can do that is to save himself for the woman God has for him (She will be grateful!) and marry her instead of just stealing her purity.

  21. Thanks for the great post. My husband and I both feel strongly about this and our five children are still young at ages 7 to 2 1/2 (set of triplets in there). Anyway, I love your encouragement to start talking to them about these things when they are young. I think that makes all the difference!

  22. Great article! I work with the young women, girls ages 12-18, in our church and I have a daughter, and I personally didn’t date one-on-one until college (went on a few group dates to dances in high school). I totally agree with you and your viewpoint on dating. We have a publication from our church (LDS) called For the Strength of Youth. When I read your article I wondered if you have ever read it or have come across it, because your reasons for not dating are so similar to what we try to teach our youth and children. I really believe that helping our girls to focus on learning about and becoming who they really are will prepare them to have happy, fulfilling lives and marriages in the future. If you are interested, here is a link to the Strength of Youth website

    (specifically thinking about the section on dating)

    Thanks again for the great article!

  23. Thank you for posting this. My husband and I are far from having children of a dating age, but it’s something that makes us both nervous. I see families at our church who are practicing this, encouraging their children to wait, and I have friendships with many of those teens who see the importance of waiting. My husband on the other hand doesn’t think it will be very likely that we will be able to stop our teens from dating. One thing I’ve always thought I would do is to share my own story and have my husband share his when it came to dating to early in the hopes that they would learn from our mistakes. For now, though, I am just praying God will lead us when the time comes.

  24. I think that if kids are waiting to date until they’re ready to marry, it’s important to continue the discussion once they are of the age to marry. I had no idea how to function in the “dating” world once I got there. Guys would ask me out and if I couldn’t picture marrying them right then (which is no one, let’s face it, I didn’t know any of these guys very well), I turned them down, destroying any opportunity of getting to know them. I also felt incredibly guilty if I turned a guy down, and I felt even more guilty if I gave a guy a chance and then decided that I wasn’t interested in him. I married a wonderful man, but before him, I missed out on a couple of relationships that probably would have been good experience for me to have because I was overly concerned with guarding my heart. I think it’s important for kids to remain conscious of the fact that a relationship begun in your late teens/early 20s can absolutely end in marriage, so don’t date just for the heck of it. But I think it’s good to balance that out with the idea that it’s okay to start dating someone and then change your mind. It’s a fact of life that not everyone will like you (esp in that way) and you won’t like everyone (esp in that way), and it’s a further fact that sometimes you won’t know until you actually get to know them, sometimes only in the context of dating. I had a lot of anxiety in my dating years because of this. Because of the message, “Don’t date until you’re ready to get married”, I felt like I had to be sure I’d be okay marrying the guy before I said yes. And if I had a few dates with him, I felt like I was utterly destroying him when I broke it off. Girls receive so much pressure to not hurt anyone, be mindful of others’ feelings, etc, that they end up acting in ways that are contrary to their own. If a twentysomething girl wants to date a guy, she should feel like it’s okay (and worth doing), even if she doesn’t know with certainty that she wants to marry him. If she’s dating a guy and comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t want to marry him, she should feel like it’s not only okay, but good and honorable, to break it off.

    It’s hard to resist telling girls what they should do (we’ve been through it all, we know how it will turn out, we have better perspective), but when girls enter the stage of being ready to marry, they no longer need (and even sometimes resent, unless they’re explicitly asking for) advice and counsel, but they still need a sounding board. They need to feel like it’s safe to tell their moms what’s going on and what they’re feeling without feeling like their mom is going to tell them what they should do. And when they decide what to do, they need to feel like their mom is behind them and supporting them through it all.

    • Very good points, Tara! Thanks for sharing. I’m encouraging my older daughter now (she’s 18) to just get to know a lot of people, even if she isn’t going to marry them. I don’t want to raise kids who feel like they must cocoon until they find “the one”.

  25. This is so true! I have 3 daughters (20, 17, and 15) that are not interested in dating and know that it’s for marriage. They amaze me because I was so boy-crazy at their ages. I wanted someone to love me. We are a single parent home, but they don’t feel they need love from a boy to meet that need in their lives. I’m so thankful.

  26. This really resonated with me. When I was a preteen going into my teen years, my dad was constantly working. We also stopped going to church for a looong time. I developed into a ‘boy crazy’ teenager. I ended up a pregnant 18 year old in an abusive relationship. I believe it is so important for parents to be involved with their kids, especially so their kids will be able to talk to them about everything. I have two children now and will definitely be using this advice!

  27. Great post! I have wonderful Christian parents who completely ignored anything to do with guys as I grew up. We never discussed boys, or hormones, or dating, or having guys as friends, or sex, or anything close to it! As a result, I always felt very awkward around boys and almost as though I were doing something wrong if I even spoke to a guy if it weren’t absolutely necessary. God brought a young man into my life during college who just refused to let me disappear in my awkwardness and pursued me until I discovered a beautiful friendship with him, leading to our marriage two years later. We’ve been married three years now and are parents to one-year-old triplet (surprise!) daughters. As we’ve discussed how we want to approach this topic -far, far in the future- we’ve come to the same conclusions as you. We don’t want to be closed off from our girls as my parents were, but neither do we want them to “date around” as my husband did as a young teenager. Most important, we want to keep communication wide open, so that our girls don’t just see the rules and guidelines, but our hearts, and we see their hearts as we teach them.

  28. I agree with the general sentiment of this; protecting your kids, keeping lines of communication open and making smart choices. But I do not agree with not letting kids date until they’re 18. I met my now husband while we were in high school and we began dating at age 16. If we hasn’t dated at that point in time we would have gone to separate colleges and never developed a relationship after 18. How do you know God hasn’t placed their perfect spouse in their environment already? And if they can’t explore those options or a develop a relationship with him they will make choice that take them down complete different paths. I hope that makes sense. I am just of the opinion that things happen when they’re meant to…you shouldn’t rush into thing, especially relationships. But it would also not be wise to turn a blind eye on something wonderful or delay unnecessarily.

    • Sheila didn’t tell her daughters that 18 was the Golden Age to start dating, they chose that for themselves. Most people don’t meet their spouses in high school, there’s always the exception like my sister and her husband, but I think a lot of people need to learn more about who they are before they can have a healthy relationship. God has a plan for all of us and we have to be in tune with Him if we want guidance.

  29. I don’t normally comment on blogs I found on Pintrest. But I just can’t help myself on this one. When I read the title, I was interested bc so many kids start dating on middle school and I was expecting to learn how to encourage my future kids to wait until they’re 15 or 16. I was sorely disappointed to read the view taken. Telling teens to wait until they’re 18 is ignorant. It strips teens of the growing, learning, emotional maturity, and self discovery only found dating. The answer is not to scare them into waiting only to set then up for failure in future relationships due to immaturity. The answer is in a book actually written in response to the afore mentioned I kissed dating goodbye, called BOUNDARIES in dating. Using some of the same tactics mentioned above, it illustrates a healthy approach to family and relationships and sex to help set up a firm understating and love of boundaries. Therefore accomplishing a foundation of good morals without making them 12 emotionally. If I had not dated through high school and learned how to maintain communication and trust in relationships, I guarantee I would not have the happy loving and trusting relationship I now hold with my husband at the age of 23 while the rest of our friends are still having babies out if wedlock or drinking and taking about parties. And same goes for my husband. I dated and managed to wait to have sex until I was married BC I had the proper guidance and boundaries from awesome parents. Not scared and robbed of my emotional maturity to save my self from the big bad temptation of dating. Just something to consider.

  30. I was really glad that my mother taught me to not date at a young age. I always knew that 16 was the age I could start going on group dates, and 18 was when I could start single dating, or exclusively dating. Needless to say, my teenage years were pretty much drama-free. That even carried into my adult dating years as I was mature enough to handle break-ups and such in a more rational manner – I mean yeah, it sucked, but I didn’t let it completely control my life as I saw one of my friends in high school do…I’m still not sure who I can talk about around her. So while other girls may have complained about these rules, I never did, and once I have my own children, I’ll be teaching them to do the same.

  31. I agree with the fundamental principle… that the purpose of dating is to find a potential marriage partner and thus it’s logical to not date until you’re old enough to marry.

    The “old enough to marry” is the sticky bit, though. We have to bear in mind that modern teenagehood is, well, a modern invention. Not all that long ago, a usual marriage age was around 14-15 for girls, slightly older for boys. Physically and biologically, we are mature and ready for procreation as soon as we’ve gone through puberty. And so, physically and biologically, that’s when we’re “ready to marry” and that’s what our instincts are telling us to do.

    The idea that we’re not “ready to marry” until we’re in our 20s is a construct of the artificial prolongation of adolescence in our modern culture. The school system is a large part of it, treating teenagers like children when biologically they are young adults. And so they continue to act like children.

    And so there is a disconnect between their physical maturity (and their instincts to procreate) and their emotional maturity (which is artificially stalled). This means that indeed they are not “ready to marry” at age 15. But it makes it *incredibly* difficult to wait. Because it is not ‘designed’ that they *should* be waiting for 5 or more years, the original intention was that this is the ideal age to start a family.

    Now I’m not saying that this means we should change everything and let our 15yo’s start getting married. But it’s an important thing to bear in mind. To understand what they’re going through. Just to realize that 18+ isn’t a ‘natural’ age for marriage, it’s still completely arbitrary and not based on any real rationale, whether from a biological or a scriptural standpoint – it’s purely cultural.

    I’ve tended to come to a middle ground, that around 15 is a good age to “date”. This does not mean “dating around”, this means a committed relationship with someone who is a potential life partner once they’re emotionally mature. It’s tricky to navigate that, of course, but I personally think it’s better (for most kids, not all) than completely avoiding the possibility and keeping their natural instincts all bottled up for so many years. If a 15yo *can* fall in ‘real love’ then why should that be denied? Isn’t that how we’re designed to work?

    I think the larger issue is the “dating around” idea, the casual hookups, and the ‘having a boyfriend’ at age 12, or 10, or these days even younger. That is utterly ludicrous, of course.

  32. Thank you. I have toddlers right now but I feel this is great advice for me as a single mother. Thanks again!

  33. What if your a single parent of two very small boys? I think about this alot & it worries me. Teen suicides, some of the young crowd where I was born have children together & are not married & the boyfriend/common law husband has murdered the girlfriend some infront of their very young children. This petrifies me as a mother I want to be able to protect my sons from any little ache & pain. But everyone deals with pain differently including the pain of a broken heart.

  34. This is great, I loved it :-)

  35. I’m a teenager myself and I’ve decided that dating isn’t the only thing you can occupy your time with. I saw this article and wanted to see if parents really understood what it’s like to be a teen and know about dating and you guys really do get it! I’ve decided that God has great plans for me and he knows my heart and knows who I will love most and I am willing to wait for him. I will know my future husband because of the bond we’ll share through Christ and I have yet to find that guy. Thanks for posting articles like this! They really do ring true and help parents guide their kids down the right path. Keep doing what you do!

  36. Marybeth davis says:

    From the beginning to the end, this was a wonderful thing to read! I love what you said! I have 4 kiddos, 14 – Audrey, 12 – Noah , 7- Caleb , and 5 – Kyle . We pray at night before we go to bed and that’s where all the talking happens :) sometimes we will be on our bed for over and hour for ” prayer time ” and it’s a wonderful. My kiddos go to a Christian school and the dating conversation is a popular thing to talk about with the girls and I love your thoughts on dating. Thank you for such good words.

  37. I would like to add a little advice to your great blog. Don’t ask young children if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Even though it is often asked in jest, it still implies to the child that they should have one or that it is appropriate to have one. When my children were asked by adults if they had a girlfriend/boyfriend, I politely said it was not appropriate at their age. I’m not sure why so many adults think it is ok to tease a young child about having a girlfriend/boyfriend. But for me it was always considered inappropriate. No teasing about dating or talks about if they had a crush on someone, or if someone was sweet on them. Only serious discussion about something that important. You are spot on that dating is for picking a mate. Both my children were late daters as were my siblings and myself. All of whom are still married.

  38. I was shocked when my son came home in first grade and said, “___ has a girlfriend.” WHAT?!? In my best not-freaked-out voice, I asked, “Where did they go?” He looked at me strangely. So, I continued, “Well, when you have a girlfriend, you are telling the world that you’re interested in her. And you do that in many ways, but one way is to invest in her. You invest your time by asking her to go somewhere with you. You invest your heart by getting to know her and showing you respect her. You invest your money by paying for the date yourself. So, where did they go?” He said, “I don’t think they went anywhere.” I assured him, “Well, then they’re friends who are a boy and girl. Not a boyfriend and girlfriend. I’m glad you now know the difference.”

    That was two years ago, and not much else has been said about it. (Thank goodness!) I’m glad I stumbled across this post so I can continue introducing approprite strategies for my sons. Hopefully, next time I’ll be prepared and not have to wing it!

    I don’t know if I’ll put an age on dating, I want to read the book you mentioned and talk it over with my husband. However, I think instilling some guidelines that require a demonstration of responsibility and maturity (you use your money not ours and you pay, you introduce yourself to her parents before she goes anywhere with you, you spend time getting to know one another in person not online, etc.) can have a big impact, too. Because, ultimately, isn’t that what it’s about – giving our kids the time they need to develop themselves and their strong characters before putting their hearts out there? Who am I to say one of my three boys will be ready to do that at 20 v. 18 v. 16? I suppose that’s why you said you don’t forbid, but instead teach them what it’s about and how to aproach it properly.

  39. This is an awesome article. Thanks for sharing.

  40. I had one step son that I encouraged this with about 13 years ago. I did not let him date a young girl in youth group who was a very good girl. This girls family was very upset with us, saying that they had a good daughter that would not cause problems. However, we were dogmatic about our beliefs. Four years later, my step son married another girl, very beautiful. They had a beautiful wedding and lots of church support. After 6months of marriage, the girl left my son, and found another man. Looking back, I wish I had not been so dogmatic, but would have looked at the individual situation and tried to be more understanding. To this day, my step son is not married, is single and living with his mother. He is 29. If I could go back, I would not have been so rigid. The other girl was a very good girl.

  41. I think being positive is important, but one thing my mother always did that was especially effective, was to point out what she had done wrong.

    She was good at telling us what dating mistakes she made in college and how happy she was she “didn’t marry that person”. Or how happy she was she”picked someone who would be a good father. I don’t think that guy would have been such a good daddy”.

    It helped us say no to people when we needed to or break up with bad boyfriends. And most importantly, helped us pick good fathers for our children.

  42. Amen and Amen!! It is always nice to see that I am not the only one who thinks this way!

  43. Truly loved your God centered advice. My daughter is 5 yrs old, I have been wanting to introduce this idea because she is starting to notice “couples”.

  44. To add to SINGLE PARENTING – Someone gave me some of the best advice related to this, as a single mom. They said to teach my children purposefully what a good and biblical father looks like.

    I tended to tense up at the subject of our abandonment and their father’s complete absence from their life, as well as my own father’s gross shortcomings. I hated talking about fatherhood in general. Thank God, they have many good fathers around them they can observe.

    Purposefully stating things like, “The Bible teaches that a father provides for their children.” “That daddy is doing a great job letting his kids know how much he loves them, isn’t he?” These things have helped my 2 kids, under 10, make mental notes of what a good father looks like so that they know what to either embody themselves, or look for in a mate. It’s been life-changing and freeing for me.

  45. I loved just reading this post and plan to look through the comments too. I just posted today on my own blog something similar and a friend who read it sent me your link! I’m thrilled to have your blog as a resource now.
    Thank you!
    Kristen Hatton recently posted…Help! I Don’t Want My Princess Kissing FrogsMy Profile

  46. Lots of good points here.

    My kids are too young to date now, but the girls have been exposed to the concept through exposure to the culture, and I’m making sure they know that teen dating isn’t going to happen.

  47. Coming from someone who is coming out of the current generation. My mom had the same view, don’t date until you are ready to marry. Now we got thrown for a loop because I met my husband at 16 in youth group. (of course I didn’t know he was going to be me husband at the time) When he asked me out I firmly told him I will not date! So this poor broken hearted 16 year old asked me what I would do. I told him that when I date I will do it for marriage, so he promptly informed me that he would wait til I was old enough, and proceeded to build our friendship. We had him over to the house many times and he got to know my brothers and parents. My family loved him and actually allowed him to take me out alone for the very first time on my 17th birthday. Now I wasn’t a 17 year old ready to get married, but this guy was surely husband material and my parents trusted us enough to let us be alone. That meant so much to both my and him. 4 years later, at the(still young) age of 20, we got married (shared our 2nd ever kiss on our wedding day) and had saved ourselves for each other, neither of us had even kissed or loved another person and it was so special to not bring any baggage into a marriage. So yes it is hard to date long term, you have to have a ton of self control, but it is possible. I still went on mission trips and built friendships and even spent 9 months away from him in Africa during our dating experience. The thing that really made it work was building our relationship with and around friends in group situations, not isolating ourselves, focusing on marriage instead of dating around and having fun, this caused us to prepare for our future and start college and seek the Lord for his will in our lives. When you are dating someone for marriage, you really keep God in the center because no-one wants to mess up on marriage, you want to marry the one God has for you! I so believe in waiting for dating until you are ready to marry!

  48. I love this post! I’m 18 and wish that I had developed this mentality when I started dating. You sound like a great mom with great kids!

  49. Denise in Grand Rapids says:

    My daughter at age 13 told me that she didn’t want to date in highschool because she felt it was too distracting for her studies. She is 16 and has since held up her values. I have told her it was ok to date at 16 and she would rather wait to entertain the though of dating until college or university. She is a very intelligent kiddo and gorgeous to boot. She sees the whole picture, and does not live in “the now”. Its truely amazing that I , as a parent won’t have to worry about parties, pre-marital sex, or things most parents worry about. I guess I have it easy :) we contribute our way to our awesome church we attended in Wellington, FL… Thanks Life Church.TV

  50. I just saw this on pinterest and wanted to say AMEN! Thank you for upholding marriage and families!

  51. I met my husband at 15 and we dated for 11 years before marrying. He has supported me through really hard times and we have grown up together. If I had parents who cared enough to want me to spend time finding the real me etc then perhaps I may appreciate your perspective a little more, however, in my experience a partnership such as this has saved me. When you have to grow up at a young age to cope with circumstances outside your control you choose who you want to confide in and trust – I made the right decision.

    Your children are very lucky to have such a caring mother – I hope they fulfil the potential you see in them, but most importantly that they are happy and get to experience true love.

  52. I truly think that, generally in todays society, this is ignorant and unrealistic. And fit everyone who says it’s better to enter a marriage without “baggage”, it isn’t necessarily true. It’s your past that helps you grow and learn different ways to interact and make your relationship stronger. And I believe it’s important to date without the thought of marriage on your mind. You’re SUPPOSED to have FUN when you are young and dating is a part of finding yourself. You need those lessons, because qualities you thought were important in a relationship may be nothing at all once you’re confronted with that quality. Conversely something you thought was tribal may turn out to be a big deal. Also putting that much pressure on your kids to someday get married is not fair to them. This isn’t 1950 and it’s ok to not get married, but if they don’t want to get married they should still be able to date. I had two friends who never dated anyone but each other and saved themselves for each other in their wedding night, they were divided within a year do to differences in the bedroom and they realized they wanted more, but they didn’t realize it before because they never tried anything else. My point is you can’t know for sure you want something until you get something else, an, as you stated the teen years are for self discovery. And, though this may sound callus, tactless, and blunt, and you may disagree with it, saving sex for marriage can be a death sentence for a couple. You have to test drive a car before you buy it. No sex is not everything in a relationship, but it is endpoint that you are compatible as it helps create and solidify a bond between two people. I have dated since I was 15, and though I have had some bad relationships I don’t regret any of them, they all made me stronger and wiser. I am a better person for it. My mother didn’t date anyone but my biological father, married him, only to find out he was an abusive sociopath who tried to kill her multiple times over 20 years. She thought it was normal and acceptable for him to call her names when they dated and married him. She settled. I’m currently 21 with a 2 month old daughter and have never been married, I don’t regret it. I will raise my daughter to be smart and independent but let her know she can date men. Her life should not be defined by whether it not she is married. It’s only a piece of paper. I’ve been with the father of my child for 6 years by the way.

    • I’m not trying to argue with you or anything but I believe the Lord has a plan for each and every one of us. We don’t need to be independent upon ourselves or be “knowledgeable” in the sense of dating. We need to teach our daughters, sisters, friends, nieces, and cousins to pray without ceasing and be faithful in the will of God.
      Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
      I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
      Psalm 121:1-2
      “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
      Matthew 6:33
      I’m so sorry about your mother and her broken marriage–and YES this can be a lesson, stay true to God’s will and His truth and he will never leave you nor forsake you. You don’t have to go through all that useless dating and flirtation as a preteen/teenager, as before trust in Lord!
      Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
      1 Peter 5:7
      Abstinence from sexual lust and desires is something to be praised. Jesus died on the cross for you and me and I believe seeking Him first, is far above what any worldly man can offer.
      I will continue to pray for all the young maidens out there.

    • I would venture to say there were other problems in that relationship. There is no reason a difference in sexual expectation should cause a divorce (in and of it’s self). Fact is sexual expectations is something that should be discussed in a dating relationship. Just another reason this post has application. No 14/15 year old needs to be discussion sex with someone of the opposite sex.

      • Melissa says:

        On the contrary, differences in sex drives CAN drive people apart! Imagine being a woman with quite a high sex drive married to a man with a very low sex drive. The constant refusal puts an emotional toll on the woman. I do not feel loved, I do not feel cherished, and I do not feel that I am attractive. He may tell me he loves me a lot, he may touch me outside of the bedroom, little caresses here and there, he may call me beautiful and sexy, but he does not want to have sex. It leads to a very confusing and hurt feeling. We have almost divorced over this.

        • Again, Adriane is correct. This is not a “difference in the bedroom” issue. The real problem is either a) lack of communication or b) selfishness. The physical act is not the problem, the root causes are the problem. A healthy sex life consists of total honesty in communication and selflessness.

  53. Great article! I am going to get that book and read it and then give it to my 13 yr old. We have the same ideals – she is not to date until she is at least 17 or 18. The purpose of dating is to find a husband. I know it’s hard for her – we don’t allow dances either – when all her friends talk about boys constantly and go to dances. But, she does see how boy crazy some of her friends are and she doesn’t get it.
    My 5 yr old on the other hand seems to be becoming one of those boy crazy girls. I don’t know what to do with her. Hoping the book will give me some ways to talk to her.

  54. This is great. I’m a single woman, 33, no kids, but I hope to be a wife and mom someday. I know my parents still pray for my future husband :) I do wonder were the right balance is. This post is about marriage so that’s the focus, but do you also prepare them for single life, for the possibility that they will be unmarried a decade or two after 18, possibly the rest of their life? And that while it is good to be married, it is also good to be single? That balance between “it is not good for man to be alone” and the verses about the children and inheritance of the eunuch/barren person being more and better than that of the physical parent, plus of course Paul’s opinion on the topic of marriage and singleness. I think as kids are taught to live life to the fullest before marriage they should also be aware that “before marriage” may last quite a long time and marriage isn’t the goal of life. I’m betting you do teach them that too. A post on that would probably be appreciated too :)
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  55. I have to disagree with this post. There are so many comments about how right it is because they slept around or dated a lot when they were in high school, but there is a way to teach your children to respect themselves without discouraging dating. You don’t have to make dating sound like such a horrible thing. I began dating my fiancee when I was 15, we are now in college and have a fantastic relationship. I didn’t sleep around in high school because my mother taught me that sex was about love and that you should wait until you’re completely ready. She never discouraged me from dating, she just told me to make sure that I was with the right person. I am so blessed to have found the right person for me at a young age and there is no reason for me to be happy with him. I’m just saying I don’t thing that completely discouraging dating it the correct way to go about it.

  56. Late to the game here but just had to comment:

    I totally agree with dating someone that you can see yourself marrying. Anything else is a waste of time. (Although I don’t think 18 is marrying age. I think you should graduate college first.) My husband and I started dating when I was 14 and he had just turned 15. We met at church and I knew within a few months I would marry him. We went to different colleges 4 hours apart, had tons of friends, did activities together and on our own, waited until we were married to have sex (YES, we waited nearly EIGHT years! It can be done!) I know for a fact that if I had sworn off dating then we wouldn’t have made it because we went to different universities. Our dating story…God wrote it and it was perfect.

    Now, we have a nearly 2 year old daughter and are already talking about how her dating life should go. We will just encourage her to date like minded young men who are focused on God. And of course, keep close tabs on her!
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  57. Overall, great list. The best piece of advice my mom ever gave me was, “Don’t date anyone you wouldn’t marry.” She said it very often, starting in I think the pre-teen years. I thought it was a very sensible one liner. I watched my friends in middle and high school become emotionally snared with boys who were not at all someone they would want to spend forever with. I could never understand why they were willing to invest so, SO much energy in relationships that were obviously not returning their investment. I watched and waited, then dated a bit when I was 18. Because I had a very simple criteria (dont date anyone you wouldnt marry) it was easy for me to recognize when a guy was unsuitable and to take decisive action (simply stop dating them!).
    I happened to meet my future husband by chance when I was just 19. I already had a boyfriend and for two months I wasn’t sure who to choose. Then a guy friend (it’s always been easy for me to be friends with guys, probably because I never viewed them as potential marks :P) asked me which one I could see myself marrying, 2.5 kids, white picket fence etc. Of course! My mom’s advice was helping me again. Suddenly the decision was easy and clear. I dropped my then boyfriend, chose my husband and married him two years later. We have known each other for nearly eight years now and I have never regretted following that one simple line, “Don’t date anyone you wouldn’t marry!”

    I avoided years of failed relationships and all the baggage and jaded attitude that comes with them. Interestingly, my friends who dated constantly in their school years still struggle to maintain healthy romantic relationships. Almost none are married. I do wonder if so much dating so early was harmful in some way… Who knows. You better believe my three sons will be hearing that one liner like a broken record in a few years!

  58. This is very inspiring. When I was at high school I spent far to much time worrying wether boys would like me. I’d love to tell my younger self not to worry and just enjoy being young cause you’ll meet your husband when your ready to settle down.

  59. Christi barney says:

    I love this!

  60. Soooooooooo……….what do you do when you have taught your daughter these things and she decides to do what she wants?

    • You pray for her and let her. You can’t ultimately control your children once they reach their late teens. But you can establish a close relationship with them early so that it makes it less likely that they will make mistakes.

      • My knees are bruised and my heart is hurt. I guess I would sort of feel better if she were dating OK guys but this current boyfriend is…………..not of high moral character. She told us we could meet him and they both are avoiding it happening. I have a dating contract so everyone knows the rules but it doesn’t work if they don’t get to see it. They only see each other at school so I guess that is a good thing. Nothing can go wrong at school, right? :(
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        • Oh, that’s really, really hard. Really hard. There’s very little that’s worse than watching your child make a mistake. I guess what I’d say is that if she’s going to see him, maybe allow him in the family as much as possible? That may make it more obvious that he doesn’t fit. Have him over for dinner. Invite him in for a family games night. Let her see that he doesn’t work with all of you, maybe? But it is so hard.

          • We are trying to include them both but because of the differences in standards, she keeps him away (or he keeps himself away). She won’t share his phone number or address with us so it is time to do some investigating on where this boy lives and who his parents are.
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          • Talking to his parents is likely a good idea, but most parents really aren’t involved, so it may not be much of a solution. How old is she? Reducing her cell phone privileges is also an option if things are dangerous in your opinion. Prayers for you!

          • She has no cell phone. One thing we did well as parents. And even without the cell she lives!!! :)
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  61. I think some great points are made in this article (despite the fact I am not particularly religious). I would, however, make sure that kids are enjoying typical social experiences with people they are interested in. Attraction is a normal, hormonal reaction and addressing it properly is important. What about dates to dances, or going to the movies with someone they are attracted to? It may give them sort of a “test run” for more serious dating in the future, with all of your above points implemented as well. Maybe teens need sort of a dating “training bra” before the big leagues so they are prepared for those interactions when they are important. Learning how to date in a balanced and mature way does take some practice, so perhaps you could expand on ways of allowing your teens to explore the dating world safely while allowing them to grow.

  62. Gina San Buenaventura says:

    I echo what you said to your girls (I have two daughters, too) except that I don’t tell them to “find” their respective partners because the Bible says, “He who finds a wife…”

  63. I agree with this whole heartedly. Also that being close as a family will help. If you are a single parent you should also try to lead by example by not just dating around or having inappropriate relations. Kids learn from examples in there life. I was one of those girls who never dated and always knew there was no point in dating unless I was interested in marriage and I’m glad I was that way but they also need to learn how to behave once they are finally in a relationship. Just because you don’t date around doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes.

  64. I would like to point out that there is nothing wrong with dating though. Great things come from dating even when you’re young. Through high school I dated, never anything serious, and always had a big group of guy friends I spent time with. Eventually when I was 16 I began dating one, and because we had already formed a friendship it was a great relationship that didnt get too serious too soon. We married when I was 18 right after graduation, had our first daughter soon after, and have been happily married for 4 years. Yes we were young, but both of our parents were married younger than we were and have the happiest marriages I’ve seen. My parents taught me its easier to just have friends, but they encouraged me to date many people to see what I would like in a guy when I was ready to marry. Luckily I found him at such a young age, we grew up together and have been the best of friends. You might say you miss out by dating in your teens, but I would have missed out if I hadn’t.

  65. I totally follow your train of thought but my husband and I married at ages 17 and 20. How do I encourage my kids to wait to date when my husband and I did not. We have been married 19 years and have a wonderful marriage. We teach our kids to let God lead their lives. How can we tell them they should do something different we when believe we were meant to be together and have improved each other’s life?

  66. Elizabeth says:

    My parents (mom, really) talked to us a lot about dating and the purpose of it to be finding a spouse. We never had an age limit, but all three of us kids started to date around age 17 or 18. We were never “forbidden” to date nor were we “forbidden” to have friends of the opposite sex. We hung out in mixed groups often and all three of us had a good core group of friends that was mixed.

    My only warning, as a 25 years old now, is that I wish my parents had taught us this: when you are dating, you are not married. My parents talked about commitment so much that I felt as though when I started to date someone they automatically had to be “the one.” My parents NEVER said that, but because I was raised in a home where commitment and no divorce is highly esteemed I ran with that in all aspects of my life. I don’t necessarily think that is healthy. I wish my parents had said, “you don’t have to marry the first person you date, it’s ok to date somebody and realize they are not marriage material.”

    That being said, I have been happily dating a man for nearly seven years now who loves Jesus. We just went engagement ring shopping. :) I am thankful to my parents for the firm foundation they have given me, it has made all the difference in how we have been able to maintain a pure relationship. Looking forward to the blessings of marriage, and I don’t think I missed out on iota by NOT dating as a young teen. :)

  67. I echo what you said to your girls (I have two daughters, too) except that I don’t tell them to “find” their respective partners because the Bible says, “He who finds a wife
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  68. anonymous says:

    Josh Harris’ book I Kissed Dating Goodbye

    If the thesis of that book had actually been, wait til you’re ready to consider marriage before dating, it would have been a great idea. However, the book went far, far beyond that — it dissed ALL dating, without laying a clear, practical alternative.

    I saw a lot of 20somethings and even 30somethings, take that book literally and foolishly swear off ALL dating. All such people that I knew personally, ended up never getting married. I blame Harris and his destructive book.

    Supervised courtship works great for the homeschool crowd (of which Harris is a product) but it just isn’t possible for a large number of singles. Those of us who did not grow up in church, simply do not have the lifelong social capital that we can call on, to meet or be introduced to suitable partners. If I had “kissed dating goodbye”, I would not have found my wife.

    My boys are told that they can date at 16, as long as they have the girl’s parents permssion. They will be specifically taught to REJECT the Josh Harris approach as foolish and harmful. It’s my hope to marry them off before 20, to keep them out of the forniculture.

    • I’m very hesitant to bash Josh, because I think that he made some valid points (especially in “Boy Meets Girl”, which I read before reading “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, so perhaps my perspective is a bit different). Having said that, however, I think that the “courtship culture/movement” of which he was certainly a huge part has done a lot of damage to my generation (I’m 29). “Good Christian church boys and girls” have absolutely no idea how to get to know each other (or non-believers) as human beings made in the image of God. We’ve somehow wound up with the totally skewed idea that we can’t befriend somebody we wouldn’t consider marrying. I’m having to unlearn a lot of the “courtship rules” now–rules which may have been based on biblical conepts, but are not in and of themselves biblical. I kind of feel like I’m “un-Pharisee-ing” myself now.

      I still haven’t ever been kissed, I still have never had an actual boyfriend or been on a real date (other than prom with my best friend’s little brother)–heck, the most I’ve ever done is hold a man’s hand for about 3 minutes, and that wasn’t until a few months ago. I am still committed to saving sex for marriage, but I’m also now learning to love God with everything I’ve got, to love my neighbor as myself (neighbor means everybody–not just “good Christian church girls and boys”) and to trust God with everything else. I’m not talking about some drippy pie-in-the-sky kind of trust…I believe that God gave us our brains and He gave us His Word and He hears our prayers, so we should make full use of of all of that, but you know what? He gave us His Spirit too, to guide us.

      Is it hard? You bet. Is it messy? Oh my goodness, yes! Will I probably make a bunch of mistakes that may potentially lead to heartache? I’m pretty much counting on it. But I’m praying that God will teach me to submit to Him in everything and I’m trusting that He’ll do it.

      • Thank you for that comment. I think your perspective is so necessary, and this is exactly what I feared was happening with my girls until we switched directions.

  69. I see alot of people saying “courting” as if it is somehow “more Christian” that “dating”. You know that Casting Crowns song that says people would come to Jesus easier if we would only get out of the way? Well, if you walk around with the attitude that “I’m gonna court and not date, (which are the same thing, just different words), you put a stumbling block up for others with what usually comes across as pride and a “better than you attitude”.
    Also, if you are not careful, your kids will turn out harmed, rather than helped. Teaching good sense and godly wisdom is much more important than putting a number to when you can purse a boy-girl relationship. I was not allowed to date till 18, was discouraged from having guy friends cuz that leads to bad things. Now, at 23, I still can hardly look a guy in the eye if he is remotely close to my age and certainly have horrible time actually talking to a guy. I am not exaggerating. A healthy balance guided by godly wisdom, not man-made ideas, is the Biblical way.

    • Thank you for that, Annie. That was very helpful, and a great perspective to add. I want to write a follow-up post about this soon!

  70. Thanks for the great post. My husband and I both feel strongly about this and our five children are still young at ages 7 to 2 1/2 (set of triplets in there). Anyway, I love your encouragement to start talking to them about these things when they are young. I think that makes all the difference!
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  71. The concept is great, unfortunately it did not work with my two oldest, and my youngest is now chomping at the bit to date as well. My two oldest are now estranged from the Lord…parenting is a difficult thing in this day and age, especially if your hearts desire is to see them serve the Lord.

    • I also am requiring the girl my son wants to date to be 16 as well, even though her parents are ok with her dating now. Is this too harsh? I just don’t think they are ready, especially spiritually.

  72. I like these points. I’ve planned on referring to boyfriend/girlfriend relationships in that way- as courtship that should wait until ready for marriage. After reading your article though, I think I will have to reevaluate dating on a broader spectrum. I’d still like my kids to enjoy high school proms, but on a more friendly level than pairing off.

  73. I loved your article! I am 22 years old and when I was 13 I made the choice not to date until I felt like God was telling me this is the man for me. During these last 8 years it has not been easy, but every time I started doubting my choice God shows me why I made the choice in the first place. I have watched so many friends go the normal dating route and their hearts have been broken or their dreams shattered. I have also seen friends that made a similar choice to mine now married to their best friends and they have God is the middle of their relationship. I know this path is not for everyone and sometimes the waiting is hard, but I have faith that in God’s own perfect timing he will bring the right man into my life. Another thing this time does is allows you to find yourself and strengthen your relationship with God more then anything. Because we should be be wanting to dig deeper and find comfort in God while he is preparing our hearts and our future spouses hearts for our marriage. There is a wonderful book called “Praying for your future husband” By Robin Jones Gunn. I highly encourage everyone to pray for their future spouse.

  74. We had a rule that they could not date before they were 16. It was non negotiable. We told them when they were young so it was never an issue. Watching their friends ‘date’ so early has helped them see how foolish it can be.
    We also reminded them that every bad marriage began with a first date. Once you start out its so much harder to stop. So we have contd to remind them they are worth waiting for and so is he. We have 3 girls. Our eldest gets married in sept. he is awesome!

  75. Wow, I see so many hurting parents and I feel guilty. My young adult kids have been very careful about relationships. Each of them take it very seriously and live by the “dating leads to marriage” style of behavior.
    I’m so grateful for healthy boundaries and for the fact that our family has missed out on a ton of relationship drama. Not to mention how they’ve been smart enough to wait and not jump the gun on love only to receive beat up & broken hearts.
    The best decision I think my hubby and I have made to contribute to this lifestyle choice for our kids is to be committed in our own relationship and to TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING WITH OUR KIDS!!!
    Our family is OPEN! We discuss every.thing!
    They know….they can trust us and that we aren’t going to give them a line of bull!
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  76. Christine says:

    We also saw dating as practice for divorce. Connecting over and over and then “breaking up” and moving on. Awful. I had dating experience before I was married and this was the case as well. Courting was really the choice of our children. We allowed them to make that choice themselves but encouraged them to value marriage and see it as the goal.

  77. You may have addressed this in all the comments and I’ve missed it but my question – do you consider dating as a committed relationship or do you feel dating includes going to school dances together or a group of friends going to see a movie together? I am on the fence with this topic since my daughter is 14. I do not think she is old enough for a boyfriend and she readily agrees, but she also has innocent crushes on several boys.

    • I consider dating anything where a girl considers herself “paired off” with someone else. When they consider themselves in a relationship, that’s dating. I think if a group of kids go to a movie there’s nothing wrong with that. One on one, I wouldn’t let them do that at 14.

      • Agreed – I just wanted to make sure I was understanding what you meant by the term “dating.” Thank you.

  78. Heather says:

    I have two little girls ages 5 and 3. Thank you for bringing up the fact that we need to start this training while they are young. I’m guilty some times of thinking they are too little to bother with the dating stuff but, guess what little 5 year old has a “boyfriend”? I’ve written it off and think to myself, “Oh, she’s just playing out what she sees adults do, just play cooking or dolls.” Or, “They almost never see each other.” However, they’ve been “boyfriend and girlfriend” for nearly two years now! I’m taking your encouragement to start teaching her now that dating is not important. Also, I liked how you said to pay attention to what they watch. She’s barely starting to become interested in little pre-teen types of movies. Some shows on Disney and Nick are cute but, it seems like their main focus is dating. Could you give specific examples of movies or shows that you’ve found that focuses on friendships and/or marriage? Thanks again. Eye opening article.

  79. Saw a post of your article on pinterest. Glad someone posted it. Awesome article! I’m 28 years old. Totally agree.

  80. … so what do you do when you’ve followed the 7 Steps to a T and your 14 year old is still hellbent on dating young? What happens when all the “safety nets” you’ve put in place – keeping her busy, encouraging same-sex friendships, mission trips, volunteer work – are the very things that enabled her to manipulate and destroy trust between parent and child? What happens when your youth ministers and pastors have watched this happen on mission trips and during youth group and small group worship … and leave the parents to pick up the pieces without so much as a counseling referral? What then? :(

  81. heather says:

    This is an amazing article. i have an almost 2 yr old daughter, and this is exactly the way i feel about dating. now i know how to handle things in the future…which i know will be here much sooner than i am ready.
    My husband was the only boyfriend i ever had. i went on a few dates after i turned 16, because i was boy crazy to an extent, but never more than one with the same boy, because i knew i was dating to find my husband, and i could always tell after one date that they were not the one.
    I took a break from dating because i got tired of it. i met my husband and our relationship began as a friendship. we started dating right after my 18th birthday, and he proposed a little over a year later.
    We have been married almost 5 years. he is my best friend.

    How would i need to handle it if my kids mention “but you dated when you were 16”

  82. Just pinned this article! Love your advise. It is exactly what we had taught our children. I have a lot of parents ask me the same questions. How did you do it? I love how you wrote your response and I will be posting it for others. Thanks!

  83. Such a great post! Thx. Very timely. I have a 16 y/o daughter who recently informed me that she and her best friend and classmate like each other – actually more than like! I got the shock of my life especially when the boy talked to me and asked permission to date my daughter. He also talked to my husband about his intentions. I’d say he’s a brave lad to do that and I respect him for that. However, we said no for now. We told them to wait as they are still too young. Happy they agreed. They can group date, but no exclusive dating for now. The dilemma is not with them, its with us parents. My husband is stricter and his no means cut off any emotional involvement. I tend to disagree with him as I feel I should give our daughter this exercise of trust. My daughter and I talk a lot about this and she finds his dad to be very harsh. She’s hurting. She’s a daddy’s girl, but this topic is pulling their relationship apart. I tend to be more “there” for my daughter to the point that I have talks with her and the boy together. I told my daughter that the one solid reason our marriage is strong is because we trust and don’t lie to each other. Your post is giving me the reassurance that I’m on the right track with my daughter and setting limits and expectations should be crystal clear. However, tension is really felt when such topic is raised. All I can do for now and pray for God’s guidance so this situation won’t turn ugly.

    How would you deal with such?????

  84. Savannah says:

    My oldest is 11, and I have actually over heard my words coming out of her mouth to her friend. “Guys honestly we are to young to get married, so there is no reason to put a label on a male friend” I love it! The way I have always told her is that if she wants to have boys who are friends that is fine, but not boyfriends. There is nothing wrong with getting to know each other as friends, and unless you are ready for a serious relationship there is no reason to put a title on a friendship. She’s to young to go on dates, or be kissing boys or holding hands so a “boyfriend” nothing other than a boy who is a friend that she has given a title. She is also okay with the fact that when she is old enough to date, the boy will have to ask for our approval, and they will not be alone. The way we talked to her about this is that we promise to give any boy she may be interested in a fair chance, but some times adults can see things a love sick teen can’t, and if we see any potential issues we will sit down together and address them. She knows we want what’s best for her, and we are trying to prevent her from having a broken heart. I don’t just demand from my daughter what she will and won’t do, I tell her what I expect from her, and explain why, and what could come of her not listening, and show her examples of people who she knows who have endured hard things because of their bad decisions. I think to many people forget that kids are smart, sometimes all it takes is being real with them.

  85. I love this post and feel so empowered now in this area. My husband and I are young and have two babies. We both agree that dating young is absolutely ridiculous because we both did it. I feel into sin and was constantly giving my heart away. You are absolutely right when you say girls need to know the love of their father. That was my problem. Always trying to fill that void. I finally was rescued by the love of Christ and gave up dating for 2 years. I met my husband within those 2 years. We were just friends though! It was the coolest relationship I had ever experienced and by giving up dating those 2 years I was able to allow God to orchestrate my love story. Anyways, thank you for equipping us to be great parents!
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  86. This is excellent! It has really worked for us! The only bit that we added that we didn’t see mentioned was to find like-minded examples/friends/role-models. Even when it’s in a book, on tv, or online, knowing that there are others that believe the same thing helps for resisting temptation and makes them feel connected. I know that as a mom, knowing there are like-minded moms out there doing the same things really helps! Thank you for writing this! :)

  87. Meredith S. says:

    For the most part, I agree with this. I had a difficult childhood in that I had an alcoholic father and a mom who was/is Christian and went to church every Sunday. My dad passed away when I was 8 y.o. and he was replaced by my verbally abusive (self-proclaimed Christian) step-dad. I went through a lot of depression, anxiety, and self-esteem issues throughout my childhood and teens. I was allowed to have chaperoned dates when I was 15, but the opportunity never presented itself. My Mom never stressed the importance of marriage, nor did she discourage me from dating. I ended up accepting Christ at 15 and immersed myself in my church’s youth group. All the guys in high school seemed immature and too obsessed with money, partying, and alcohol. I didn’t really want to date a guy like that. I had one date my senior year (and no 1st kiss). I was involved w/ piano, youth group, and hanging out with my friends. I was really too busy to date. I didn’t even have my 1st kiss til I was in college and 18. I read I Kissed Dating Good-bye, too. It definitely impacted the way I viewed dating and relationships. I was only in 1 serious relationship before I met my hubby. It was 13 months long. I dated other guys as well, but they lasted anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. Saving myself for marriage definitely helped weed out the guys who were only looking to score. Btw, my hubby’s only serious relationship was with me. We’ve been married for 9 years (together for 10) and have 2 girls. An 8 y.o. and a 6 y.o.

    • Wow. That was a blessing to read your story and see how God brought you out of such a rough home life and set you apart for Himself…and your hubby! :) Thanks for sharing! :)

  88. Rose Mary Burton says:

    This is a wonderful article. I have great granddaughters now and would like for them hand their parents to use this information.

  89. Anonymous says:

    Regarding the family thing, I have noticed that many of us who come from really crappy families of origin are more intentional with our spouses and kids. Most of the youth group friends I had way back when who had “model” families have left the faith and/or are divorced. Out of those of us whose parents had split, only 1 couple is divorced now. Kinda flies in the face of the usual stats.

  90. I had a few “boyfriends” in junior high which mostly consisted of mutual feelings alone, one with which I have regrets. When I was 14, I was introduced to “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and thought it made good sense, so I decided not to date until college (when I thought I would be prepared to date seriously). The problem was I went to a small church and never really became involved at my college (because I hung out with girlfriends and then went home every second weekend), so I graduated thinking no one was interested and wondering if I would ever marry. Something happened in the two years after though. I moved overseas to teach in Australia and became good friends with a godly man there. I tried not to allow myself to think of him as a possibility because (I’m ashamed to say) I wasn’t sure my family would accept his skin color being different. I often threw out “friend” comments to make sure nothing went further though he was exactly the kind of man I wanted. Long story a little shorter, I prayed a lot before approaching my parents about it, and they made no issue of it at all! We’re planning to get married in April! :) Thank the Lord! . . . I don’t blame Joshua Harris for me never dating in college; I think he helped me to see some really important aspects of dating. When my fiance and I began hanging out, it was one-on-one, but just as friends. What I haven’t decided is whether hanging out without more than friendly “purpose” is best way or not. I don’t think I would have gotten to know my fiance well without the casual atmosphere, but there is generally that risk of being hurt by a close friend.

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  92. Anonymous says:

    I’m 13 years old, like your daughter. And I agree with you. Maybe not with all of it (I’m atheist, therefore I don’t pray). Unlike her though I was brought up not knowing, dating was a forbidden subject. We just didn’t talk about it. Some of my friends are dating but I don’t see what the point is as they break up after one week. Dating at my age means holding hands during break and kissing behind the shed. Sure there’s that “I love him” stuff but it isn’t real. I once asked my mum how old do I have to be and she asked if I thought I was responsible enough and what did dating mean. I didn’t reply as I didn’t want a boyfriend at the time. But yeah.

  93. I understand your points; but as a young, single woman, I did this and SERIOUSLY regret it.

    In my experience, a lot of the most godly, kind, and loyal guys I know began dating strong Christian girls in high school and stayed in those relationships.

    Our culture says we should marry later. Biologically, this is not the case. Many of the people I know are getting engaged at 18 or 19. Is there anything wrong with this? I don’t think so. I think it’s a shame people wait and wait and wait in today’s world. You don’t need to have a house, a great car, great careers. There’s something to be said for building all of that together.

    I’m 19 and I regret the better guys I turned down. 19 may not sound old, but you would be SHOCKED how few options there are by this age. In my Christian young adults groups the good ones are taken. Worst, in college, many guys have started:

    1. Drinking.
    2. Smoking.
    3. Not even dating, but being part of the “hookup culture.”

    I hope you send your daughters to Christian colleges. They will hopefully find a pool of guys there who also “kissed dating goodbye.”


    P.S. You can get your heart broken over people you never dated. Sometimes never knowing is the worst.

  94. GREAT list. Thankful to have implemented a lot of these ideas already. My eldest is almost 14 and we have two other tween daughters as well. I’ve tried to emphasize that everyone they date they’ll either break up with or marry, so it’s best to wait until they’re old enough to marry, before they start to date!

    Sadly one thing that’s also “helped” was my eldest watching her friends deal with heartache. She doesn’t want that for herself, so is consciously trying to avoid it.

  95. Thank you, this was so helpful, I have two girls 7 and 8 and a 10yr old boy. I’m glad I can start preparing.

  96. The entire idea of “too young to marry” is turned upside down, I think. Marriage and consent ages are entirely arbitrarily chosen by legislators who typically propose laws in the interest of their own political career, not their constituents. It ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy: we raise young adults as if they were little babies who can’t choose for themselves and aren’t allowed to decide. We end up – well – with exactly what we sow. A 16 year old, properly raised, in most of the world, has adult responsibilities and often a family to take care of. There’s nothing wrong with that, it demonstrably works – human population is not shrinking, after all!

    There’s nothing Christian about postponing marriage until some arbitrary age. It’s a very local and recent phenomenon if you look past the confines of your own country, or even your own generation. A whole big lot of your direct-line ancestors, even in the last 10 generations, were “too young” in your eyes, yet here you are. I see parents who have children at an age that would have been considered “old” just 200 years ago. It’s much easier to get up to care for a newborn in the middle of the night when you’re 18, not 38. Just because many people raise teenagers as if they were useless until magically thing are reversed the moment the 18th birthday strikes, doesn’t make it sensible, or any good in fact.

    I was ready to marry at age 18, to a 16 year old, and the idea that it was too early is, frankly said, nuts. Nuts as in belonging in an insane asylum nuts. What many are doing, indirectly, is telling everyone they don’t know what they were and weren’t ready to do. Sorry, they don’t know me, and get no say, and I’m very thankful that hopefully it might stay that way.

  97. You give all this “great” advice and then slyly mention that you homeschool! Your advice then is seriously flawed!!! I have eight kids some in public school now starting to homeschool some….completely different scenarios!!

    • How is the advice wrong? What did I say that isn’t true, whether you homeschool or public school? I think it applies to everyone. Certainly I believe that it’s easier if you homeschool, but that doesn’t make the advice wrong if you don’t. It just means you have to try even harder to have a relationship with your child, and try even harder to help them find a good peer group or other interests.

  98. I disagree with this quite strongly. As a parent, your goal is to raise strong and independent people who have their own ideas about their lives. That is the ultimate goal of parenting. While drilling your own beliefs into your child’s head may seem like the right thing to do because it’s what you believe in, it may also stunt them from ever having an opinion different from yours. Differing opinions is what runs this world. Different ideas is what propels our society forward. An example is science. Not everyone agrees and that’s fine; but it’s also what encourages people to test theories and to try new things. Raising a child who is that focused on marriage may make them feel bad about themselves. They may not want to get married. Some people don’t. Pushing that on them may force a lifestyle that they did not want but is what they feel is acceptable. In my opinion, you should definitely communicate well and often with your child, but in a way that allows them to develop their own ideas and morals. With a topic like this, it would be a good idea to start with “I feel that marriage is a goal you should strive for one day, but you have to do what is best for you.” Offer support but encourage acceptance. Be open minded with them and let them make their own choices, especially in the teenage years. In a very short time, they will be independent adults who will do what they please. Let them find out what pleases them, not what pleases you. We do not live our lives to make our parents happy. Dating in high school isn’t always a bad thing. I have friends that did and friends that didn’t. From what I’ve observed and what they have told me, the friends that dated in high school felt more comfortable in a relationship and less alienated. Friends that didn’t tended to jump right in and be naïve about the relationship later in life, which caused more anguish in the end. All I’m saying is that you should allow your child to make his or her own decisions based on them, not yourself.

  99. I agree that we need to have open conversations with our children. And I think much of the advice here is very good. However, what if God is calling them to a life of singleness? Putting marriage as the ultimate goal, instead of encouraging them to be content in Christ can be detrimental to a young woman who may never marry. When a young woman is focused on Christ, she will be led down the path He wants her to find. As they grow in Christ we have to trust their judgment that He is leading them personally, just as He is leading us.

  100. I must disagree with this.

    I dated a bit as a teen and in college, and if I had been using that dating to look for a husband, I would have settled at age 21 with a good Christian boy who treated me well and that I would have been content with. That is the problem; however. God wants more than content for me. If I had been raised to follow my youth group mandate of “date to find a mate” I would feel a bit like a failure now, because I am 25 and single. However, dating for companionship taught me about God, His plan, and helped me learn to be content with myself, even in the midst of heartbreak.

    Also, it is for the best I never married that boy, because our needs are different in retrospect. I am also likely unable to have children, and he wanted a large biological family with a stay at home wife. I would have been content, but not happy.

    I’m not sure if God’s plan involves a husband for me. If it does, fantastic. If not, I won’t be disappointed or angry, which I would have been if I had spent my entire adult life so far praying and searching for a husband.

  101. I Love this article!!!! I thought I would share it!! What About Kids and Dating?

  102. sunnygirl says:

    Here’s how to get your daughter not to date too young… tell her she can’t. Why have parents forgotten that they can actually tell their kids what to do… it wasn’t too long ago that parents actually did that. Parents also told their kids to wait to have sex, at least until their older. But now parents say “their going to do it anyway”… nice to see that parents have so little faith in their kids. Once kids know that their parents don’t mind if they do, THEY WILL DO IT!

    • Because parents respect the choices their kids make. It’s important to treat teens with respect, but not force them to do things they don’t want to(this relates to dating especially) I have very very very little faith in parents in this country. They constantly try to control what their kids do, constantly try to brainwash them, constantly worry about things they shouldn’t care about, constantly resist any form of change from their kids. Well the same thing will happen to the kids when they’re older, thank god for death killing idiots like you.

  103. I am glad that I read your 7 steps. I have a daughter who will be 13 soon and I thought that it was odd but very good that she has no interest in boys yet. She was told the other day at a doctors appointment that she is like a 30 year old stuck in a 12 year olds body because she is very mature in certain ways. That made me think of my mother who once said that she didn’t feel like she was born in the right time. She always felt that she should have been born at an earlier time. Maybe that is why her second marriage to my father was so successful because they were almost 21 years apart in age. My mother passed away on there 46th Wedding Anniversary. I truly believe they were a match made in heaven. My dad was older of course. I was honest with my daughter and told her that I waited until I was 18 to have sex. I also had been with this boy for almost two years and I made him wait that long. I only had really 2 loves in my life and one was the boy I dated for 6 years ( the one I made wait for sex ) and my husband now. Also you said something about having hobbies my daughter has had many because she is an only child and only has 1 real friend and this friend does not go to her school. She doesn’t hang out after school with classmates because of this, that, and the other. She says she doesn’t like preppie kids and she is not competitive so she isn’t in sports. Well enough for now. Thank you for listening. Julie

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  1. […] about how to choose a husband, and they’re certainly thinking in that direction (though both don’t see the point in dating until you’re old enough to marry, thank goodness). But I don’t think you can raise your daughters assuming that they will […]

  2. […] do not feel the need to have a boyfriend. My oldest read I Kissed Dating Goodbye last year and has committed to not dating until she is 18 and ready to start thinking about marriage. I, of course, am […]

  3. […] know you feel desperate. You’re not going to believe what I’m about to say, but it’s actually better to be alone at this stage of your life, because you can concentrate on who you want to be without a guy getting in the middle of it. So […]

  4. […] they aren’t allowed to date until they are 18, though at 16 I’m willing to consider it (more on that later). I know that sounds extreme. I […]

  5. […] that my 14-year-old friend has, and as a parent, I have told my children from the get-go that the only point of dating is marriage, and so you shouldn’t date until you’re ready to marry. Then, when you do start dating, […]

  6. […] Yesterday I wrote about how to raise kids who are determined to wait to date until they’re ready to marry. A large part of that, I believe, is setting the right culture in your home. Don’t allow media in that violate that perspective. […]

  7. […] they’re learning, exploring, and playing, without feeling like they have to act like adults. They don’t need a boyfriend or a girlfriend. They don’t need to smoke or drink. They don’t need to understand sex jokes. But when we expose […]

  8. […] I was boy crazy in high school. I guess everybody is, but it’s embarrassing to think about, so I try not to dwell on my […]

  9. […] the dating scene with your teen. I’d highly recommend reading Sheila’s post, “Seven Steps to Raising a Teen Who Won’t Date Too Young” for some great wisdom and perspective. She lays out a rather thorough guide of how to […]

  10. […] few years ago I wrote a post that has gone viral: 7 Steps to Raising a Teen Who Won’t Date Too Young. I wrote it when my girls were 15 and 13. Now they’re 18 and 16. And so I thought it may be […]

  11. […] in groups, rather than allowing them to pretend they’re grown up when they’re not? Dating when you’re a young teenager does few people any good, and does lots serious harm. The earlier you begin dating the earlier […]

  12. […] don’t let your child date anyone who isn’t a Christian. If their best friends aren’t Christians, switch youth groups and try to find another source […]

  13. […] Rather than talk myself about teens and dating (since I’ve done that already), I’ve asked my 16-year-old daughter to join us on the […]

  14. […] few years ago I wrote a post that has gone viral: 7 Steps to Raising a Teen Who Won’t Date Too Young. In it, I said that I believed that the purpose of dating was to figure out who to marry; anything […]

  15. […] I am browsing [7 Steps to Raising a Teen Who Won’t Date Too Young – To Love, Honor and Vacuum]. Have a look at it! http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2010/09/7-steps-to-raising-teen-who-wont-date/ […]

  16. […] matter how well you handle the news of your son starting to date someone seriously, there are good reasons to not encourage such exclusive dating. Your son has plenty of time to get […]

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