Once a month the 4 Moms take some time to answer reader questions. This month, I’m continuing to work my way through the fabulous list questions that you all came up with on Facebook last month.
Michelle Givler asked, “Do you believe in courtship or dating and what does that look like to you and your husband, especially in regard to girls?”
and Amy Bass Powell wondered, “How you have taught your pre-teens thru teenagers to be pure and holy?”
Since these questions seem to go hand in hand, I thought I’d tackle them together.
The focus of this post will be from the perspective of parenting daughters.
Our oldest (a girl) is 15, so we’re speaking mostly in the hypothetical as we’ve had almost no experience when it comes to courtship and dating.
Also, these are our ideals, our ‘prefect world’ scenario. We know we don’t live in a perfect world and we trust that as we navigate this unknown territory that God will grant us mercy and bless us with wisdom.
When it comes to purity, courtship and dating, this biblical principal is our goal and standard:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28
Jesus clearly tells us that the goal is not merely a physical purity, but also a purity of mind. Our goal therefore is to be able to present our daughters to their husbands as young women who are pure both in mind and body.
Most married men and women, have a pretty good understanding of what is appropriate behavior between the sexes.
For example, most would deem it inappropriate for a married woman to walk around the mall hand in hand with a man who was not her husband. Most wives would not be happy with another woman resting her head on their husband’s shoulder, giving him a certain type of hug, a goodnight kiss, etc. Most married woman don’t appreciate it when other women speak and interact in a flirtatious manner with their husbands, even if there is no physical contact involved.
However, those who would apply this type of standard to singles are viewed as somehow extreme.
When considering standards for our children, we remember that we are raising young men and young women who will, Lord willing, one day be married. Our goal is for our children to save all those intimate actions and words for their 0ne-day spouse.
To this end, any action or attitude that we would view as unacceptable behavior for two people who are married to two other people, we view as unacceptable for our single children.
We do not expect our girls to flirt, hug, hold hands, kiss or do anything with a male friend that they would not be comfortable doing with another man in front of their husband.
As the Matthew 5 passage indicates, our goal is more than simple physical purity.
Just as it’s easier to refrain from the actual act of adultery than it is to keep from even thinking about the possibility, it is easier to remain physically pure than to remain emotionally pure.
It is because we are working toward a goal of emotional purity that we prefer for our children to ‘court’. Now this means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In our experience, it most often simply means ‘date’ with parental supervision or permission.
This is not what we mean by ‘court’.
Our goal is that when Mark walks our daughters down the aisle, he will be giving them over to the only man that they have ever committed to emotionally.
Some ideas before courting:
- We encourage our children to be friends with people of both genders.
- From the beginning, we socialize as a family, building friendships and relationships with people of all ages and genders.
- From the beginning we encourage deeper friendships and relationships with those who will encourage us and our children toward godliness and righteousness and we caution about the damage that poor relationships will cause. (Proverbs 13:20 and 27:17)
- We discourage ‘particular’ friendship with anyone of the opposite gender.
- We exhort our daughters to guard their hearts. This will require careful discipline and diligence.
- We remind our girls of the potential deceitfulness of the human heart and that we want what is best for them. We explain that there may come a time when it seems like we do not want their best, but we want them to trust us through that.
- We protect our girls by providing supervision.
- Unless both the boy and girl are ready for marriage emotionally, physically and financially, it’s not time to even think about courtship, dating, marriage or a ‘particular’ friendship.
- Our girls (and boys) know that everything is forgivable and that we will love them no matter what.
Some courting ideas:
- We hope and pray that both sets of parents will be involved in the process.
- We hope that the young man would first approach Mark for permission to pursue a relationship with our daughter.
- In order to enter into this relationship, we would have to believe that it is likely that this man would be a suitable husband for our daughter.
- The girl has the final say-so. If she says, ‘no’ then the answer is ‘no’!
- The ‘couple’ should know each other well before entering into this type of relationship because we believe that this is the point that the heart-guarding begins to be let down.
Courting between long time friends
In the easiest scenario, the boy and girl would have known each other for a long time before this point. The families would know each other well and the parents of the ‘couple’ (and the ‘couple’ themselves) would have a good indication as to whether or not this was a good match.
In that case, ‘courting’ would be a period of time for the ‘couple’ to form a particular friendship and the heart guarding to be somewhat let down as this relationship would be quickly heading toward marriage.
We would hope that the time between this relationship and marriage would be fairly short.
In the event that the boy and girl are newly acquainted, but both are ready for marriage, we would desire that there be a time period of getting to know each other with continued heart guarding on the part of the girl.
It would be our preference that our daughter not know the boy’s intentions at this point in the process (for heart purposes), but that both sets of parents be involved and approving.
Getting to know each other over a distance
This seems the most difficult scenario, but, of course, not impossible. We would once again encourage a time period of getting to know each other before any type of emotional commitment is made.
We realize that perhaps we are idealistic and we certainly don’t claim to know much of anything about this.
Some people would consider what happened between Mark and me to be courting. I would say that it was dating with parental involvement. So we’re really new to all of this and are praying that God will give us wisdom as we begin to navigate through this new territory.
Amy also asked, “What resources other than the Bible (if any) you have used and at what age you have taught ‘the facts of life’?“
You will want to read this post about Teaching Children about the Facts of Life.
How do you plan to handle (or have handled) these issues with your children?
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