Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Topic: Dating

Hurrah! A question from a reader:
Hi! My family are missionaries with 2 teenage daughters. We have discussed dating within the community with our daughters, as well as our sending organization. We have all come to agreement that it's not something that we want them to do for fear of creating unnecessary problems for our organization and the work that we are doing here. My daughters and I have also discussed that dating shouldn't be taken lightly. We discussed that, if we could not answer the question "Could I marry this guy?" then what is the use in dating him. For now, we are all in agreement. However, I have been a teenage girl at one time (many years ago!), and I understand how hard this is for them. 
How do most missionaries handle dating on the mission field with your teens?

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  1. My oldest is a 16 year old going on 20! :-) We also try to encourage our kids not to consider dating until they are more in a position to marry. Last year (at 15) my son asked if he could "go out" with a 15 year old girl, and I asked, "Do you think her parents would let you?" And it kind of opened his eyes.

    Also cultural considerations should be taken into consideration. My son was texting a Turkish girl whose father became very incensed, and flew off the handle. It was innocent, just slightly more than friendly texting, but the consequences were serious. This father did later apologize for his behavior, but damage had already been done.

    This is such a sensitive issue. I'm interested to read what others have to say.

  2. My oldest son and I have had many conversations regarding relationships, the purpose of marriage, and what "courting" vs. "dating" means. I am thankful for God's grace in the fact that he seems to understand the gravity of the dating topic, despite only being 14. The other day when talking about a girl that he "likes," he said, "but I'm not even close to getting married. Why would I want to date her? Nothing good could come out of it." If only I had been so wise that young....

    This year, I hope to read through Joshua Harris' book, "I Kissed Dating Good-bye", with my son. I don't agree with absolutely everything in the book, but it is a great starting point for conversations. As for rules of the house, we absolutely do not allow hang-out time one-on-one with girls. Mixed group activities are encouraged but no one-on-one time. We are also careful with how we talk about who he "likes" or who "likes" him, not teasing or making a big deal of it - letting him know that the emotions are completely normal, but only to build on the friendship and figure out what attracts him to that girl. We also do a surprise texting/e-mail/google chat check once in a awhile, just to hold him accountable in those areas. I certainly don't want to be the nagging and overbearing mom, but I would rather have some checks in place than for him to fall into sins that could have lasting consequences.

    Just my two cents :)

  3. We've been pretty low key about it - our older kids have not been interested in "dating" any one, although there have been times of interest. When that has happened, we facilitated opportunities for them to "hang out" together, either with peers or with our family. The international school they attended would have banquets or dances with teaching/chaperoned/guided dancing - and they've gone with a date. We've also been very blessed in that my children have seen "dating" modeled so beautifully. My niece came and spent a gap year with us and during that year she met her now husband. Their courtship/dating came under our roof and the two of them were respectful of our preferences/comfort level while we tried to help them as they were getting to know each other. All that to say - we've taught and talked all along that we work on being good friends to both the guys and gals we know. If there is some possible interest beyond that, the first step is still learning how to be a good friend first and encouraging them to take things slow. So far, I think all three of our biggers have some budding interest - but are choosing to focus on being good friends first. Plus, all three have specific goals for which they are working - and can see how a boyfriend/girlfriend might hamper that. We choose not to "forbid" dating lest it become a forbidden fruit that looks all the more enticing - and work to keep the conversation always open and talking - even when it isn't always comfortable.