Seriously, no offense to religion but…wtf.
Teen dating. It’s an essential part of growing into the adult your teens will become.
So how do you help your teen navigate the treacherous waters of love, lust, and dating? In our book, Dateable: Are You? Are They?, we talk to kids about dealing with the opposite sex. We teach them the truth about what goes on in the mind of their dates (or potential dates); and, in so doing, an amazing thing is happening. They are breaking up. They are throwing away their suggestive clothing, and they are focusing on God.
It turns out that an awareness of the opposite sex is like abstinence training with a twist. It’s not so much a matter of teaching them about sex; it’s more a matter about understanding the mind of the opposite sex. When the eyes of students are opened in this area, they start making better decisions.
1. It will not last. Teen girls especially have a hard time swallowing this; but once they do, the transformation begins. Statistics prove that the chances your child will marry his or her high school sweetheart are remote. This seems to come as a particular shock to the girls. For some reason, guys already seem to know this, so most of them aren’t planning on marrying their 16-year-old girlfriend. Unlike the girls, thoughts of weddings or names of children are completely foreign to them.
Once your daughter realizes this relationship is probably temporary, she’ll also start to see that giving away her heart and body is an incredible waste of her life. If she can understand that he could be dating one of her friends within six months, she’ll be more likely to protect herself more than she ever has. So the first rule of teen dating is to realize that in most cases, it won’t end in anything other than an old-fashioned high school break-up.
2. What you put into the relationship determines the amount of pain you’ll experience when you break up. So, teach your teens to beware. If they put a lot in, they could end up getting a lot of pain on the way out. It might seem obvious; but, for young people driven more by emotion than logic, it’s not.
3. Another shocker for the girls—guys can (and often do) lie. We don’t want to sound too broad in saying this, but it’s a fact of human nature. More times than any of us would like to admit, guys will lie to get what they want. What many of them want is sex.
Even those guys who aren’t planning on breaking their True Love Waits pledges are still thinking about it. Teenage boys are in their sexual prime, and their culture only adds fuel to the fire. They can’t help but think about sex. They may not be doing it, but they may be obsessed with the hope that they might actually get some form of physical satisfaction.
In the beginning a kiss will do. Later, things can get more intense. Either way, guys learn that sweet words can yield sweet payoffs. In response, parents need to reinforce to teens of both genders the idea of putting girls on a pedestal. Guys need to learn what it means to respect young ladies, and girls need to learn what it means to respect themselves.
4. Girls lie to themselves to get what they want. Girls live in a fantasy world of romantic lies. When a guy starts liking a girl the romantic lie kicks in. She starts writing her first name with his last name. She even starts thinking of names for the kids. All her friends add to the fire and say things like, “You are so cute together,” and that clinches it. He’s the one and she’ll do anything to keep him, including sex.
5. If I’ll do it for you, I’ll do it to you. It seems logical; but, yet again, teens are easily shocked. If your youth has a friend who is willing to lie for them, they need to know that this same friend won’t hesitate to lie to them. It’s a character issue. If a guy with a girlfriend will date your daughter, she needs to know he’s going to do the exact same thing to her. Girls can be guilty of the same crime of passion. It’s a part of our fallen human nature, but it’s also something for which our teens need to watch out.
6. If what you’re showing ain’t on the menu keep it covered up. Once girls realize that every man from the old guy in the grocery store to the pastor at church is looking at what she has exposed, she develops a stronger urge to cover up.
7. Girls need to shut up and be mysterious. Teenage girls can talk! That’s not a newsflash for anyone who has worked with female adolescents. In many ways, girls bond by talking. It’s normal; it’s natural; and it’s essential.
On the other hand, guys don’t bond by talking—or listening. So when this girl dumps her whole life on him, all he wants to do is get away. So, how can teens of both genders deal with this in a way that creates healthy relationships? It’s a matter of patience and restraint.
Parents can teach guys to be more patient and understanding when it comes to hearing girls out. Guys also could stand becoming a little more verbal themselves. While they’re at it, parents can help girls learn to provide information a little bit at a time. By working together, she gets the chance to express herself and he gets the chance to come up for air. They also will save themselves added heartache by not bonding so deeply with a member of the opposite sex in a relationship that likely won’t survive the next six-week grading period.
8. Guys stand up and be men. In many ways, guys have become imitations of women. Sweet. Quiet. Kind. Gentle. And well … boring.
God made boys to be wild, adventurous, and daring, not tamed domesticated animals. Every little boy dreams of slaying dragons and rescuing princesses; but, somewhere along the way, this dream was slaughtered. With it, they lost the sense of chivalry that enhances their manhood.
Teen boys need to get a firm grasp on what it means to be a man, including the fine art of chivalry. They can learn to open doors for girls, carry boxes, walk her to the door. They can develop strong habits, such as taking their hats off and standing when she stands.
When parents help their sons take back their manhood, they go a long way toward helping that young man develop a biblical sense of self-esteem and becoming the hero of every girl. What’s more, when boys find their manhood, they find their God. They were created in His image and getting back to that will drive them deeper into relationship with Him.
What’s the Point?
By sharing the truth about the opposite sex, you can draw your teenagers closer to an understanding of who God created them to be and to what God intended their relationships to be. A lot of great achievements in people’s lives would have come a lot sooner if they had known the truth about the opposite sex and pursued a realistic perspective on dating.
For teens, dating has the potential to become a distraction from dreams and goals. When boys and girls give too much of themselves to a temporary issue, they can miss out on a lot and can be drawn away from a powerful relationship with God. That’s not going to happen in every dating relationship, but it happens enough to make sure we take the matter seriously.
Being a parent is tough. In today’s time, being a teen is just as tough—maybe even tougher. These few things should give you an insight and maybe new inspiration on how to help your teenager hear the message you have been trying to get them to hear and to become the most datable person they can be.
Justin Lookadoo and Hayley Morgan are the authors of the book, Dateable: Are You? Are They? (Fleming H. Revell). Justin is a juvenile probation officer, author, and speaker whose hard-hitting humor connects with teens. Hayley developed Extreme for Jesus, a teen think tank, based in Nashville, Tennessee.