Posts

Dating

(This post was written by Matt Grimes, Middle School Ministry Pastor)

One of the values of our Family Ministry is to fight for the heart of our kids.  A huge battle that rages with major implications on the hearts of our kids is dating.  I know that many parents are starting to get a little queasy even thinking about this subject, but it is one that desperately needs our attention.  The challenge is that the Bible really doesn’t have much to say about dating, so the issue is one of whether or not it is a wise choice for you to allow your student to date.  Yes you heard me correctly; the decision is ultimately up to you as the parent to give them the green light to move ahead in this area.  Let’s take a look at some steps you can take to get ahead of the game in this area.

Step 1:  Establish when they can date.  This is challenging because there is no magical date that says this is when you should let your students start dating.  I know plenty of 20-something’s that have no business dating because they are not ready.  It is a question of maturity.  My caution would be that middle schoolers are just not ready to date, and I wouldn’t encourage them to date, but sooner or later they will be ready.  So sit down with your spouse and create a list of qualities/characteristics that will indicate to you that your student is ready to start the conversation about dating.  Once you have created this list, sit down with your student and go over it with them.  Discuss how each characteristic proves that they are ready for the responsibility of dating.  What you will find is that when your students are clear in their understanding of your expectations, it will cut out a lot of the arguments over this subject.  Clear expectations go a long way to create peace.

Step 2:  Set clear and consistent boundaries for dating. When it is time for your student to start dating, they need to have clear and consistent boundaries to keep them out of danger.  They need boundaries to protect them in three specific areas:  their purity, their identity, and their physical safety.  Even if your student is not ready yet to date, sit down with your spouse and come up with at least three clear and consistent boundaries for each of these three areas.  Then sit down with your student.  Talk about the three areas where they need boundaries in dating, and ask them what they think are some appropriate boundaries for each area.  Then combine both, and agree to a set of boundaries for dating.  Talk about them regularly so that they are ingrained in your student’s mind when they are ready to start dating.  If they are already dating, have check-up conversations with them about how they are doing with living inside those boundaries and any areas where they may need help.  Clear and consistent boundaries keep us out of the danger zones when it comes to dating.

Step 3:  Discuss qualities that should be present in someone they want to date.  It is important to help our students discover the qualities and characteristics that should be present in someone we would consider dating.  We don’t want them to date anybody with a pulse, so we need to establish certain qualities that should be present in someone worthy of  dating.  Again, this is a great conversation to have with your students, even if they are not ready to date.  Agreeing ahead of time to a list of qualities of someone they should date can automatically help them eliminate people that they should not date.  Who knows, it may even postpone their dating, and that is definitely a good thing.

Let’s not just stand by as our students hearts are being wounded by this world’s view of dating and love.  Let’s step up and fight for our students hearts.

Parent Connection

Remix

Tonight we continued our look at teenage love and relationships with our series called Baby.

In the Old Testament, there are over a dozen different types of love. Each indicates a different emotion or feeling. The challenge is that in our world today, we only use one word to describe love. We say I love pizza; just the same as we would say we love our parents.  However, both have a very different meaning.

Tonight we took a closer look at the three specific types of love that God created a love relationship to run on. The first is Raya, this is friendship love, the second is ahava, love that commits, and the third is the Dod, the love of physical affection. We challenged the students to realize that love is something so great, and powerful that God does not want us to mess it up by playing around with it.

In their group time, students, with the help of their life group leaders, discussed how each of these different types of love build on each other, and how when they are all present, create the type of love God designed us to experience. For our 6th graders we did not talk about the third type of love, DOD because many of them may not be ready to jump into this subject. We felt it best to not get in to it with them at this time. We do however encourage you as parents to discuss physical affection with your student and help them understand when it is appropriate and not appropriate. If you need help with these please don’t hesitate to contact our student office, and we will be more than happy to help you work through this.

Listed below are some questions that you can use to spark conversation with your students and connect with what we talked about this week:

  • Are there different meaning behind the word love?
  • When it comes to a “love relationship” between a guy and a girl, why is developing a healthy friendship important?
  • When it comes to a “love relationship” between a guy and a girl, why is commitment important?
  • What does it mean to commit to somebody?
  • What are some appropriate signs of physical affection as a teenager? (Let this be a dialogue between the two of you. If they suggest something you are uncomfortable with, have discussion about why it is or isn’t a good thing to do.)