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Idaho Catholic Podcast

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Parenting A Teen - Question of "Dating."


What is a parent to do when they are hit with the question from their teenager:
"Mom and Dad, can I have a Girlfriend?"
My first thought was: "What does a "Girlfriend " mean to you.
I have always thought that when you are old enough to have a girlfriend, you are old enough to date. When you are old enough to date, it is because you are courting the person you think you want to marry.
A teenager is nowhere near ready to be choosing the person that they want marry, especially when you are talking about a 14 or 15 year boy.
However, what if the boy states that he has no intention of having a physical relationship with the other person, but rather, he wants to have a non-physical intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex.
He wants to feel that someone cares about him. He wants to care about someone. He wants someone to ask him about his day, and he wants to know everything about the other person.
So why do you need the title "Girlfriend?"
Because when you are a teenager, titles are important, relationships are important.
I will admit that the way a boy learns to communicate and relate to girls in his teenage years has a direct relationship to how he views women the rest of his life.
There are other factors, like how his parents treat each other, the commitment witnessed through his parents, the way his parents talk to each other, and the way his parents seem to respect each other.
If he can learn to have girls as fiends, to get to know girls, learn how to relate to girls, he is more likely to have positive relationships with women in the future and not just treat them as objects.
Boys are naturally attracted to girls in their teenage years, they cannot help it. But at the same time, they are full of raging hormones, and as we all know, often are impulsive and make bad decisions.
So what really is a "Boyfriend" or a "Girlfriend."
I guess it is what the two individuals agree that the relationship is.......and will be.
Should your teenagers go out on dates unsupervised.....NO WAY!
Should teens learn how to relate to each other in a non sexual way....Yes, I think that is a part of growing up and is imperative to the maturing process.
In many ways it would be nice to say that there is no need to have a Girl or Boyfriend until you are in college, but, I can also see the benefits of a close "No Physical" relationship.
I guess if your teenager actually asks you if he can have a girlfriend, that is confirmation that you have already instilled some character just by the fact that he is asking permission.
I also think that if a relationship titled "Girlfriend" is condoned, it is important have specific written and accepted ground rules of what the relationship is and what it is not.
YES, the agreement must be realistic. It cannot contain information regulating what they can feel and what they cannot feel, that would be impossible. But it can have clear guidelines of what is accepted and what is not.....That not only is proper and respectful, but wise and prudent.
An ounce of prevention is far better than a pound of cure......
Please pray for wise decisions.
I have not decided completely on this issue, I think the jury is still out, awaiting more evidence and much more contemplation.
I think it might also be time for "Theology of the Body for Teens."
** 09-21-08 **
I have given this issue much thought and prayer and allowed it to settle within me. I have come to the certain conclusion that teens have no reason to have a "Girlfriend" or "Boyfriend" until they are the age that it could be considered "Courting" or "Dating."
The sole purpose of having a close and intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex is to determine and discern if that person is the person to spend the rest of your life with.
A teen of 14, 15, 16, 17 has no reason to be dating when they do not have the option of marriage

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