Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Valentine’s Love Letter series. Check out the previous letter here.
Dear Mom with teens on the dating scene,
This love letter is to you as you help navigate your teens in their desire to love and be loved. Like all of us, God created your teens with a desire to find love.
Even if you don’t feel they are ready to date, knowing they are still emotionally and physically growing up from children to adults, they most likely are already looking for it.
And whether you know it or not, you are the one who sets the tone for their search. Like God in His word sets the tone for how we love one another, parents set the tone in a home for how their teens will love and look to be loved in their relationships.
You’re Being Followed
Along with following the media about teen dating, love, and relationships, your teens are following you most of all.
If they like what they see in your relationship, then they’ll look for what you’ve lived out before them. But if they feel you have messed up and don’t know what you’re doing, they may discount everything you tell them about dating, believing they aren’t like you and know better than you how to find love.
It’s a daunting thought for a parent, especially if you’ve failed or are working through a tough marriage. But you don’t have to be perfect for your teens to learn from you.
Explain to your teens how the guidance God gives in His word has the power to overcome your weaknesses and failures when it comes to helping them through the dating years. Like 2 Corinthians 12:9 assures, God’s grace is sufficient, even for imperfect parents.
No Need to Fear
And there’s no need for you to be afraid if you have fallen short. God gives your teen Himself as a resource, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
He also has given you everything you need to lead your teens and to teach them His ways so even if you have stumbled, they will know which way to go.
Teach Them to Guard Their Hearts
Even though you’ll want to keep your teens from experiencing some of the same hurts and failures you may have experienced as a dating teen, you’ll need to rest in God (Psalm 37:7) and entrust them to His care.
Guarding your teens’ hearts is something you have to teach them to do because they are the ones in charge of their own hearts. It’s theirs to open up and be vulnerable with in life. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
Embed God’s Word in Their Hearts
God assures if you plant His truth in your teen’s heart, it’s cultivating inside of them even if you aren’t able to see it outwardly at times in their behavior and words.
Isaiah 55:11, reassures you, too, if your own words seem to fall flat at times with your teens, God’s Word doesn’t. “So is My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
God has empowered His Word to speak to them at critical times in their lives during decision-making crossways to help direct the course of their futures.
As well, God has also given parents a place of authority to speak into their teens’ lives and impact their thinking and actions like no other voice on earth. Like television shows and films often portray, the words you speak to them have the potential to replay over and over again in their minds during significant times in their lives.
Your Words Are Important
Because dating leads to marriage, it’s vital to let your teens know how important it is to their future to marry a believer in Jesus Christ. God’s Word tells Christians to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).
My mom took this very seriously and hammered it into my thinking. Although I didn’t appreciate her efforts at the time, her words had an effect on my dating choices.
Resist staying quiet and saying nothing because you don’t want to seem like you’re nagging them. Your teens may not hear you the first (or even seventh) time, but keep speaking up. Your words are important and God works through them in your teen’s life because they are based on His truth and His word.
Without Mom’s constant reminders, I may not have had the wisdom as a teenager to follow God’s directives in dating and marriage because of my own immaturity and lack of life experience.
Let Them Know Help Is Available
Your teens’ dating choices matter, so let them know help is available when making decisions. Choices of the heart can be hard when they are being tempted to give into their feelings and emotions over what they know is best for them and their future.
Discuss with your teens how what seems right to them at times may seem like the best option, but if it doesn’t line up with what God says about handling their situations, it could lead to heartache.
Encourage them to ask God for His help in resisting temptations. You won’t be with them at school, parties, and outings, but He will be their constant Companion, never leaving or forsaking them (Hebrews 13:5). Reassure your teens that in every situation, God is their help and will uphold them (Psalm 54:4).
Let them know it’s okay to turn to Him, and they can turn to you when they are struggling with weaknesses, tempted to date someone who doesn’t know God. 1 John 1:9 explains, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Encourage your teens to read and study God’s Word, and to let it correct their minds and desires to line up to His truth. Train them in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Expose the Enemy’s Mind Games
As well, teach them to examine where they’re spending their time and what they’re focusing their minds on. Colossians 3:2 urges us to “Set your minds on things above, not earthly things.”
Explain how they’ll want to look at the ways certain places, events, and atmospheres may offer more temptations than other activities. Encourage them to be willing to choose and change their routines in order to follow God.
As well, describe how the devil is looking for ways to set them up to fail, knowing they have weaknesses and can be tempted. Be willing to share a personal story of your own, one where you were tempted and God helped you to escape. Real-life dating stories from you can be very powerful in the life of your teens.
Emphasize to your teens how to resist temptation. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Help Cultivate Compassion in their Hearts
Because God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9), encourage your teens to look for ways to connect the unbelieving guys or girls they meet with Christian groups, to help point them in the right direction and give them an opportunity to be led to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Teach your teens to be truthful with unbelievers, to let them know in a kind and gentle way why they aren’t open to dating them. Stress the importance of explaining in a compassionate and gracious manner to those who don’t know Christ how they can have a loving relationship with God, too.
Impress on your teens’ hearts to live out what Romans 1:16 describes, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God that brings Salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
In His love, from a parent who cares about you and your teens,
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.