As a parent of young adults (some would call them teenagers), we are entering a vast new territory with regards to issues in parenting. No more are we worried about how to stop tattling or separation anxiety...No, now there are bigger fish to fry.
Many families today subscribe to our cultures ideals that casual dating, or 'catch and release' relationships are a harmless part of growing up. We are not one of those families. Perhaps after being challenged to consider--really consider--this teen ritual, you won't be either.
Like many of our parenting choices, this isn't a decision we arrived at overnight or after a casual conversation. We labored, prayed, discussed, read, talked and studied. We recalled our own dating experiences. We wanted something better for our children.
In reflecting on what exactly teen dating is, and considering what the motivation is for such behavior, I concluded that this is yet another place the worldly philosophy of humanism has crept in and usurped Biblical principles. Think about it. Humanism suggests that man is supreme and everything revolves around man. The Bible says we should consider everyone better than ourselves. Humanism is selfish, Biblical Christianity is selfless. While Christians everywhere may struggle with selfishness, to have a whole practice based on selfish motivations is completely different. Thus, my conclusion that recreational dating by it's very nature is based in humanism.
There are far more egregious sins that are commonly attached to humanism because they are much easier to peg. A selfish spouse pursuing adultery, an inconvenienced woman considering abortion...most Christians see these actions as clearly wrong. Recreational dating though, really??
It's very subtle.
Jesus says in Luke 6:44 that we will know a tree by it's fruit. Let's have a look at some of the 'fruit' the modern dating scene provides. A short (anonymous) survey of other parents identified these 'fruits' from their dating experiences.
Hindered Spiritual growth.
Strained relationship with parents.
Feeling of being used.
Suddenly, the dating scene looks a lot less enticing, doesn't it. And it's a lot easier to see the inherent dangers associated with the teen dating scene.
The problem of course, is that this survey is a retrospective survey given to parents. Teens may not give the same kinds of answers for reasons of self-preservation, selfishness, or just because they are dishonest and don't want to admit that some of these feelings are happening to them, right now, as a result of their relationship choices.
Honestly, if parents were not asked to think about and reflect on their dating experiences, it probably wouldn't cross our minds. For most of us, dating was such a long time ago, we've forgotten how it felt. Time has the tendency to erase hard edges and even 'romanticize' young love. We don't remember the pain, hurt, disillusionment and heartbreak associated with those early relationships.
I would even venture to say that as parents, we may even equivocate the idea that because our teens relationships can't really "go anywhere," there is no harm or danger involved. In other words, "Meh, they're only 13 and 14...They can't get married...What's the harm in them having a little fun. They're so cute."
Oh friends, if only there were no real 'dangers.' Remember the list...and stay tuned. Part deux is coming.