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How to know when your child is ready to date

By: crystal cox

Your little boy brought you flowers and worms from the yard to show his love. Your little girl serenaded you with sweet, original songs. Could this child who is asking to go on a date be that same little boy or girl?

In a parent’s heart, it’s never time. As a mom of two teens, I understand all the emotions that come with the idea of your baby becoming someone’s baby.

So how do we make a wise choice? How do we know when our kids are ready?

If you type “dating” in a Bible search, you’re not going to find any verses that specifically address the topic. Dating is a relatively new practice, but thankfully, the Bible does speak truth that can be applied to the area of dating.

6 Questions to Consider When Your Child Wants to Start Dating

1. Is your child following Jesus?

Has there been a time when your child gave their life to Jesus and have you seen change? In several gospel accounts, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” A child with this love will better know how to conduct themselves and treat another person in a dating relationship.

2. Is the person your child wants to date following Jesus?

Your child should not date someone he or she would not consider a good marriage partner. Don’t freak out here! It’s not that marriage is in the near future, but dating should be glorifying to God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” And 2 Corinthians 6:14 instructs us to “not be yoked together with unbelievers.” Your child’s dating relationship will only be glorifying to God if they are dating someone whose life is also glorifying to God.

3. Has your child shown self-control in other areas of life?

Galatians 5:22-23 teaches, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The world teaches our children to use dating as an opportunity to experiment with sex and experience freedom from your authority. It is crucial your child has shown the ability to delay getting what they want in other areas of life before you can have any hope of them resisting temptations dating brings.  

4. Has your child spent time around the other person in different contexts?

Your child needs to spend time around the other person in different situations before spending time alone with them. This time builds trust in who the person is and how they react to feelings like disappointment and frustration.

5. Is your child ready for the responsibilities of dating?

If your child is going to date alone, they should carry the responsibility that comes with dating. It is not your responsibility to pay for dates. Are they able to get to the date and back? If not, it may be too early for dating alone. If dating is important to your child, they will do the hard work to prepare for it, even the hard work of waiting.

6. Why does your child want to date?

A child should not date to deal with boredom or loneliness. If this is the child or parent’s motivation, dating could prove to be a harmful solution to the problem.

Keep Psalms 16:5 in mind: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup.” If your child is using dating to fill a void, they are looking for fulfillment in the wrong place. Dating should be a genuine desire to get to know a person better and be in a relationship with them.

God intends every part of our lives to glorify Him, even dating.

Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Every detail of our lives, what we say and what we do, should point others back to Jesus.

How we lead our children through this season should point them back to Jesus. And, how our children date has the potential to point their friends, classmates, and even their crush back to Jesus.

As we read the Bible and ask God for wisdom, He is faithful to fill us with the grace and perspective we need to guide our kids through this new, exciting time in their lives.

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