I dated as a teen. Too much. With little discretion and often times just to say I had a boyfriend.
This was long before the "in a relationship" facebook status made your friends flip out and you could be locally famous for a little while. . .
Many of my friends, whom I consider to be wonderful parents let their teens "date". It is an individual choice with which every family must assess it's comfort level.
But my teens don't date. That's our personal conviction and I'll tell you why . . . it's plain and simple, really. It's not something we can point to one verse in the Bible and say with confidence "see, dating is a sin". Because it isn't. But we discourage it for one primary reason . . . .
We don't want our children to give their hearts away, over and over, with scores of "I love yous" to people who are just passing through. The kind of stirred up emotions you feel for that person you are dating are so intense. He is "yours" and you are "his". There's a claim being staked with no long-term commitment. Even in a dating relationship that stays very pure, the emotions are a freight train and they can carry your heart away . . . again and again as you search for that "just right" person. It only ends up in pain and awkwardness because, let's face it, so few of us have found our "one and only" at 16 years old that technically, it is just practice with some game playing thrown in.
That's it, in a nutshell.
There's really no need to "practice being in a relationship" before that one special person comes along.
How much more precious will that best friend turned lifetime partner feel when he/she understands that you waited for them, not just with your sexual purity but with your heart and devotion as well.
How much more committed will that marriage be when you can honestly say your spouse is the first and only person who captured your heart and gave you all those pit-of-the-stomach, can't-wait-to-see-you feelings?
I imagine it would be spectacular. But I can only imagine because I was a serial dater from 15 years old until I finally met my sweet husband at age 23. How I wish I had insisted on friendship only and never said "I love you" to others . . . it muddies the waters. It just does.
Plenty of opportunities for my older teens to be "in a relationship" have presented themselves. They have had many interested parties over the years. When my teens tell those suitors they prefer to stay "just friends" (and I have actually had the honor of hearing this said), some stay as friends and others choose to move on. And it's a great winnowing process for them.
And those who stay are smart. Because one of these days, one of those wonderful friendships will turn into "the real thing". And only the Lord knows which one.
So to those parents who have chosen to allow your teens to date, to be "in a relationship" long before that child or his bf/gf have the money, maturity or desire to make it a marriage, I ask you to consider what the benefits might be? Does it make your teen feel more "normal"? Wanted? Is it filling a void that should be filled within the family or by a deeper walk with Christ? Is it just your teen following the herd?
There should be purpose to the decisions we make. Even these.
Again, please see my heart on this issue. Allowing your teen to "date", especially one who is spiritually grounded, raised to respect others, and who has the uncommon ability to put others before himself is NOT a sin. It is a highly personal decision.
We just chose "no".
If you haven't chosen yet, because your children are young or are simply disinterested in that facet of life at this point, pray through it with seriousness. It matters . . .