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"The most strategic thing we can do to influence this generation is to help parents win with their own kids.”

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One of the thoughts that comes up in our student small groups is not just the idea of dating but of dating someone who may not be a Christian. For our students, they would rarely say that the person isn't a Christian which is probably more accurate. They would say that they don't really attend church much and leave it there. We've learned to read between the lines on this one and as a parent you probably have as well. You've also probably or in the future will question the individual that your student is dating because you don't want them to pull your student away from church or a relationship with Christ. So here's how we as youth and small group leaders respond.

Can I date someone who isn’t a Christian? You can but that doesn’t mean you should. Most parents settle for allowing their student to date someone who goes to their church. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian just like going to Taco Bell doesn't make you a Taco. Parents the best thing you can do is get to know the kid that your would like to date. have them over. God eat with them. Observe them as much as possible for making that decision. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 it tells us to not be “unequally yoked.” That means to refrain from relationships that can pull us off track. It’s a picture of 2 oxen of different size and strength. They will not be able to be tied together and walk a straight line. One will pull the other off course. It doesn’t do this intentionally. It can’t help but do this due to it’s size and strength. So a student trying to live a Christian life while dating a person who is not trying to live that life my be able to help that person live a little better. But both get pulled off course so the student trying to live a Christian life get's pulled away from that to varying degrees. . Both will be pulled off course. You may help the bad one but they will hinder you as well.

But as a parent, how can you have this conversation with out it erupting into a raging dumpster fire of emotion? There are 2 mistakes that we often make as parents:

1) We think that kids are just like we are right now. That they can think like we do right now. This is incorrect because while your kids experience emotions just like an adult, they don't think like an adult. For example: a kid that loses a baseball game experiences the same emotions that an adult does. However, they do not think like an adult does with how to control those emotions. Most kids get mad and may pout. Hopefully most adults while frustrated, usually decide that whatever caused them to lose, they won't make that mistake again. So kids do not think like an adult even though they may be capable of doing some adult things like dating or driving or working.

2) We think that kids today are just like us when we were there age. They  are not like you when you were their age because they have grown up in a different culture that accepts and glorifies a lot of different things that we didn't. They are growing up in a culture that uses words like transgender every day. In junior high most of us had no idea what that was.  

So, don't make the mistake of thinking they are just like you are or you were. They have the emotions we have but they don't think like we do. you will need to be patient and explain to them several times why dating that person isn't what they should be doing.

Location: Have some privacy. In a house full of people while they are getting ready to run out the door is not the right location even though that's the moment you find out who they are going out with. Let it be in the house where you can sit with minimal distraction or somewhere that they can argue and express themselves. A walk in a park or at the beach.

Have a dating policy: I always feel like a good dating policy is that your student can't go anywhere alone with the opposite sex. If they are going out then other friends have to be there as well. Group dates are always a little safer and you can require that you know the friends that are accompanying your child on this date/whatever they are calling it. And just to clarify: Just because they don't call it a date doesn't mean it's not one. 

Pray: Seek the help of the Holy Spirit when parenting your teenager. You need it. You will find so often that after you have prayed, God completely changes the way in which you were about to deal with a situation. You were about to come in hot and his patience and piece allowed you a much more reserved demeanor and that enabled you to truly communicate with your child. Never underestimate the power of a praying parent.

We hoped this has helped you and would love to interact with you further. Send us a message with questions or a response. We will see you next week.

Chris LoopeYouth Blog