Only date someone you would consider marrying.
The words seem foolish when you’re ten or twelve, but first romances start at those ages. I had my first boyfriend at eleven. He was my first true love. We had secret dates at the school playground when my mom thought I was going on a bike ride. (Though I did ride my bike there, I also was meeting a boy.)
He was also my first heartbreak. I learned hard lessons about infatuation and dating between him and the man I married. Lessons that almost cost me my character and virginity. Most of them happened before I was fifteen.
Though marriage is a long way from the mind of your tween or teen, it isn’t separate from the adult person he/she will become. Romantic and sexual feelings are real for tweens. Hormones are awakening. They’re transitioning from a child to a young adult, and adult choices are within their grasp.
Yet they don’t have adult decision-making capabilities.
If your child likes someone, this is the best dating advice, no matter what their age or intent of the relationship.
Why? Time with someone changes you. It changes character. If the player at the school dance melts your teen’s heart, being his girlfriend won’t change him, it’ll change her.
Even if a relationship doesn’t last very long, someone ends up getting hurt in the end.
When I was a middle school and high school teacher, I saw students date others who were “bad boys” or “mean girls.” I saw students’ reputation and character change. Those with ruined reputations had a hard time getting it back because of sexual promiscuity or rumors. I saw students who were devastated when the bad relationship ended.
I’ve seen former students divorce early in their twenties because that high-school-romance wasn’t a healthy match for a lifetime.
For a lot of them, these romances started in middle school.
So as romantic interests come your teen or tween’s way, encourage them to ask themselves, “Is this someone who’s character is such that I could spend a lifetime with her or him? Is this someone worthy of marriage?”
If the answer’s no, then guide your student to save their heart, mind, body and character for the one who’s worthy of his or her heart.
This principle doesn’t mean your teen shouldn’t date at all – it guides them in choosing who to date and when.
What are other principles you think are important in helping your teen choose a dating partner? What are your thoughts about this one? We’d love to hear from you!