Sex and Candy

A few weeks ago I wrote Excuse Me While I Step On Toes, which explained my reasons for believing teens should not date. This one is directed to all of us who are parents.

I’ll begin with my same statement from last time: Children, tweens and teens should not date.

We all know teenagers have hormones doing crazy and unexplainable things inside of them. Human nature also means there is curiosity about the unknown. Add someone of the opposite sex in the mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Even the strongest kid who knows they want to wait to have sex until they get married can find themselves tempted if the setting is right. And the longer two people are dating, the stronger that temptation grows. So why add to the temptation they’re already fighting?

If you stress to your child the importance of not having sex as a teenager, then why do you allow them to date right now? It’s sending mixed signals to your child. As a parent, and as an adult, you are aware of the curiosities, hormones, and many temptations that are sometimes difficult to control as a teenager. The more time your child spends getting closer to this person who they aren’t intending to marry and while they are still trying to figure out who in the world they are, the more they will become tempted to explore their natural curiosities.

And don’t be naïve. If your child is allowed to sit with their boyfriend or girlfriend on their bed under a blanket while watching a movie in the dark, then you have to understand that it doesn’t matter if the door is opened or closed – temptation will eventually get the best of them. It doesn’t mean they are bad kids. It doesn’t mean they are rebellious kids.

It means you are telling them not to do something, but you are providing an atmosphere for them to do exactly opposite.

You are placing that temptation right in front of them. It’s no different than placing pieces of unopened candy in the hands of a very hungry toddler who hasn’t ever tasted candy but has heard how amazing it is, and you tell them they can’t eat any – but then you walk away.

Not To Get Incredibly Graphic, but . . .

Think about what happens to the child with the candy. He may hold onto it for a while because he wants to obey you. He doesn’t want to get in trouble. But then his stomach growls. He may even feel like he’s hungrier than he realized.

So he tries to feel of that candy through the wrapper to get an idea of what it looks like inside. Is there a picture on it? Does it have words? So he’s curious and opens the wrapper. He isn’t going to eat it, but he wants to just get a look because he’s never seen candy except when someone else has it.

But once he opens it, he wants to see if it’s sticky or if it melts in his hands.

He wants to do the right thing, but he’s really curious, and he wonders what it tastes like. So he continues to obey your instruction not to eat it, but he just takes a tiny taste to see what all the fuss is about.

Then, he realizes it tastes better than he thought, and his stomach starts really growling. He may even feel like he’ll starve if he doesn’t eat something. So he goes in for a little bit bigger bite. Before he realizes it, he has eaten that whole piece of candy.

What do you do when you return to see he has eaten that whole piece of candy that was purchased for someone else?

Now you’re faced with a dilemma. Do you discipline him for disobeying your rule?

Keep in mind you knew he was hungry, and you knew he had never had candy before, so likely he was curious even if he’s never told you he was curious. You did tell him to wait, so he did disobey you. You didn’t tell him that there was a special candy bar stored away for him to have when the time is right, though. Did he know that piece of candy was being saved as a gift for another person?

The fact is, you placed that piece of candy in his hand, and you left the room. The longer he held on to that candy, the more his desire to obey you had to fight against his natural hunger. The longer he held on to it, the harder that fight was for him. In the end, his hunger won.

At some point you have to realize your part in this situation and take some responsibility. Yes, he disobeyed. However, he wanted desperately to obey, so it is your duty as a parent to help him be successful rather than throw him in the midst of something meant to make him fail.

Don’t set your child up for failure. Let your actions be consistent and in line with the rules you are setting for them. Dating is NOT harmless and cute. When a person dates, their heart is on the line, and so is the other person’s. As parents, we aren’t here to hide the world from them, but we are here to protect them from the things of the world. We want to help them maintain their innocence in a world that is coming from every direction to try to take that innocence away.

Excuse Me While I Step on Some Toes

I have strong opinions about certain things, and that means I tend to step on toes. It’s not that I mean to, but when I allow myself to enter into a conversation regarding one of these things, my passion sometimes comes across as dogmatic and overbearing. I ask for grace as I’m a work in progress.

Recently, a speaker in our youth weekend service said something that really caught my attention. It wasn’t the topic of the message, but he said something incredibly profound that gave me more reason to stick with my opinion on one particular thing – dating.

Now, before I continue, I want to preface by saying that I am well aware I am not in the majority on my thoughts regarding dating, so if you are in the majority, we can decide here and now to agree to disagree.

I’ll just spit it out – Children, tweens and teens should not date.

Gasp!

Two Reasons to Wait on Dating

  1. The Purpose of Dating

    One thing I stress to all of my children is that there is a purpose – and only one purpose – for dating. That purpose is to find the person you will marry, and since they are not getting married while in elementary, middle school, or high school, there really is no reason to spend time and energy on dating someone else’s future spouse.

    Sure, it’s possible to marry someone you know or maybe even someone you date during that time in your life, but the likelihood of that is slim to none, and the divorce rate of those who marry right out of high school is extremely high. Studies show there is a significant decrease in divorce rate the later in life a person marries. The probability of divorce actually more than doubles for those who marry out of high school versus those who marry at the age of 25 or later (reference.com).

    If someone you meet during those years is who you’re supposed to marry, that person will still be there when the time is right.

  1. Allow for Growth

    There is a drastic change that happens to a person from their teens to mid-20s. Dating someone during those formidable years won’t allow for proper growth within yourself. You have to allow time to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in order to have a healthy and lasting relationship, and this just doesn’t happen when you connect yourself so closely and intimately to another person.

    This is also why you hear people complaining that their significant other is not who they were when they first started dating. If you started dating in high school, and you’re now in your 30s, do you really want that person to be the same? Are you the same?

Ultimately, it comes down to asking one vital question:

What’s the purpose for you dating this person you want to date? Usually a young person is not going to answer with, “Because I want to marry him/her,” and if that’s not the answer, then there truly is no reason to date this person.

People who disagree with me on this almost always ask, “How do you know you want to marry someone if you don’t date them?”

That’s easy – you become friends first.

My husband is the first person I became friends with before dating, and our first date was the best date I’ve ever had! I knew on our first date that I was going to marry him. To most, that statement sounds absurd, but I truly did. We had spent a year becoming friends and getting to know one another, so we had already seen things in each other that are typically kept hidden by people who date when they don’t know each other. We wanted to date despite those imperfections we had already seen in one another, so our date was authentic. We weren’t pretending to be something we aren’t, and I knew that evening without a doubt that I wanted to marry him.

Now, becoming friends first can be tricky. When you know feelings are already there and that you want to become more than friends, it’s important you set clear boundaries BEFORE spending time with one another. Start by listing what friends do together and what couples do together. When you see things on the couples’ side that aren’t on the friends’ side, then you know where to begin when setting your boundaries.

Dating is so much more important than what our culture makes it out to be. Our kids are already inundated with the perception that dating, love, and sex is no different than waving to your neighbor. All of these things have the ability to drastically shape a person’s future.

I understand that my way of thinking isn’t popular, and I understand it makes me an outcast, but I am completely okay with that.