This Beautiful Inheritance: Teaching Our Children Not to Awaken Love Until the Time is Right

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Teaching Our Children Not to Awaken Love Until the Time is Right

I avoided it for as long as I could – the explanation of what a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” was. My girls are young, and for as long as possible, I wanted to shelter them from those terms. The words themselves aren’t “bad,” but they usher in the desires to be noticed, to pair up, to focus on one's appearance, and much more.  I would prefer my girls to believe people remain single until God shows them the one they are to marry. But of course, in the day we live, it’s only a matter of time until our children are “enlightened.” Everything from Disney movies to children’s books and friends at school normalize boys and girls pairing up in relationships, especially this time of year.

I may sound like an old fogie to some, but my concern in this area is grounded in life experience. My husband and I started dating when I was 14 years old. I was a child. We dated for nearly five years before we got married and made wonderful memories along the way, but it was also very difficult. I learned through experience that growing in your relationship with the Lord is more challenging when you are consumed with a dating relationship.  Developing friendships, spending time with family, learning new hobbies and skills – these are important in teens’ lives but the time available for them is limited when so much is wrapped up in a boyfriend or girlfriend. But the biggest challenge for a dating, Christian teen is to remain sexually pure. No matter how devoted to the Lord a young person may be, spending extended time with someone they’re attracted to and have feelings for is inviting sexual temptation. Not to mention hormones are in full swing at this age! This can lead to guilt, confusion, and ultimately, sexual sin. That’s why it’s our job as parents to set firm boundaries for our kids as well as steering them away from dating and perhaps (if we feel led) forbidding it altogether. It is my hope that my girls will not date until they are 18. That may sound legalistic, but let me explain why.
There is a verse in Song of Solomon I learned around the time I got married.

“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” Song of Solomon 8:4 NLT

 
Other translations of this verse tell us not to “stir up” or “arouse” love until the time is right. When is the time right? I’m not a Bible scholar but my humble conclusion is – when we can act on it! If sex outside of marriage is a sin (and according to the Bible it is), then we should not awaken those feelings when it would be a sin to act on them. In society today, it is nearly impossible for a young person to get married while still in high school; they need to be able to work and support themselves. This is why I feel dating before 18 is unnecessary and dangerous.

Of course, this is not a Biblical mandate. For some the “right time” in life may be later or sooner. But I know for sure our kids today are awakening love too early.
My oldest started Kindergarten this year, and thus, it begun. Her friends at school already talk about who they like and who is their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Believe me – I know these relationships are innocent. Still I wonder if we as parents do more harm than good when we encourage this kind of behavior.

In our house, we’re starting early discouraging it, in the most loving, light-hearted way we can. From the beginning, I want to set my girls on a different path with a different focus because I don’t want them facing the same arduous, uphill battle for purity that me and their daddy did. I want them to be free in their teenage years to enjoy their singleness, their friendships and their family. Free to develop their talents, skills and interests. And free to grow in their relationships with the Lord, without being bogged down by guilt, distraction, or confusion.
I look forward to the day when they meet the men God has for them, when the time is right and they can commit their lives to each other and express their love. But until then, I don’t want to do anything to arouse in them feelings that may make their paths more difficult along the way.

12 comments:

  1. Very wise words. I hope everyone reads, and prays about this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have young girls too. What words do you use when they mention "boyfriend"? How do you redirect them? (I'm struggling with this at my house too -- I have four girls ages 1 1/2 - 16!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly don't claim to have all the answers here. You're right -- it's a struggle! But when they mention a friend that has a "boyfriend," I usually just tell them that little kids are too young to have boyfriends or girlfriends. And I do say sometimes that they need to be 18 before they date! They really have no concept of age or time, but they understand that that's a long ways off and the thought of "boyfriends" is not something they need to entertain for a very long time.

      Delete
  3. I wrote this five years ago, back when I was a real Blogger gal. http://www.theparkwife.com/2011/10/12/raising-warriors-that-protect-their-hearts/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Stephanie, this is perfect! How encouraging to hear this perspective from the flip side, a "boy mom" who is raising the kind of warriors I want my girls to wait for.

      Delete
  4. Yes! Parents encourage this and I am guilty of joking with my younger son who is a "ladies man"... I say he "flirts" and has "girlfriends" but it is all jokes. I am trying to watch my words lately and stop saying those things because I don't want to give him (or my other children) that those things are ok. I teach a group of 8-12 year old girls and one of them was talking about her boyfriend a few nights ago. My heart hurt for her innocence. I made a lot of mistakes growing up/dating and I don't want my children to make the same mistakes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We can all learn from our mistakes and help steer our children on better paths. Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  5. So very wise. Thank you for these words!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just trying to use the story God's given me. :) Thank you for reading!

      Delete
  6. Glad you are beginning to see the need to take a stand! I once told a 16-year-old son that a certain 14yo was NOT the one, because sh was only 14! I told him that we don't look for girlfriends, we look for wives (or husbands, for girls) and he should be looking at 20-year-olds.
    Well! Telling a 16yo that he should try to capture the heart of a 20-something put a huge damper on it all. Very effective. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol - well there's one method! I just found out that I am having a little BOY next so I will be facing this challenge from the opposite side!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...