As we wrap up our month on friends and dating we would be remiss to not talk more about teens and sexuality. The needed ongoing talk about the personal discipline of abstinence is not because we are old fashioned or because it is really the only safe choice, because its what God set up as a standard for us.
Teen sex is destructive on so many levels. Many parents take the attitude that today’s teen is going to do it anyway so… That’s makes about as much sense as saying that the teen is going to speed when he drives anyway so let’s buy extra airbags for safety.
Teen sex is damaging to them emotionally. Sex was created as a bond between a couple that was meant to help “seal” a marriage. When this bond is taken lightly and misused it affects us emotionally. It also affects our future relationships. Teens do not have the maturity to deal with the pain that comes when that sexual bond is severed and the relationship ends.
Teen sex can also be damaging to them physically. Because STD’s are on the rise this is something that concerned parents cannot afford to take lightly. Teens are more susceptible to STD’s then adults as well because their bodies are still developing. With the diseases out their, many of which are incurable, our kids are literally taking their lives in their hands if they treat sex casually. Many of these STD’s are not 100% prevented by practicing “safe sex” . That’s basically like saying, you have a 1 in 8 chance of your parachute not opening when you jump out of this plane, how many of us would go sky diving at that point? Yet many parents are treating the casual nature of teen sex with the same sense of idiocy. This is a protection issue and we need to protect our teens as well as their future! More than that, it is an issue that will impact future intimacy in marriage. Most of all, understand it or not, agree with it or not, it is a total violation of the Operator’s manual for handling life. God calls us to the personal discipline of abstinence before marriage. Either He knows what’s best or not, there’s no gray area here.
Teens today still say their parents are the number one influence in their lives. This is such a comforting thought, especially when it comes the areas of dating and sex. Teens today are bombared constantly with sex. It is presented to them in the media, through television, movies, magazines, and commercials. They are bombared with it by their peers. Sexuality is openly discussed in school. There seems to be no sense of modesty about the topic in today’s teen culture. This is why it is imperative that parents consistently talk to their teen about sex.
Again, this is not a one time only, birds and the bees type talk or even the discussion that takes place as they “come of age.” This needs to be an on going dialog. Parents must be a safe place that the teen can come with questions.
We also need to be aware of what our kids are filling their minds with. Are they becoming desensitized to sex because of what they are exposing themselves to? We need to monitor what is playing on their ipods. What music does your child like? Do you even know the lyrics to the songs that they listen to? Magazines that are pushed at teens, such as Seventeen and others, are very sexually explicit. Even video games today can be very sexual. For your teens sake, filter what they are putting into their minds and hearts. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take captive every thought we have. That’s a vital discipline parents must teach their teens.
Yesterday we discussed the importance keeping the lines of communication with your teen open. One of the things to discuss with your teen is the importance of sticking to a plan. There needs to be a plan in place for who to date, as well as, what to do on a date.
In talking with many teens today it is surprising that many will “go out” with almost anyone who asks. This is why it is important to have that previously discussed “spouse list”. A teen can then easily see who fits their criteria. It is very important to have standards as to who is datable. Sadly one of those standards is for the basic reason of safety. Girls especially need to be very careful who they choose to go out with. The date rape statistics on college campuses is staggering. We need to be training our teens about safety on dates beginning with who they choose to go out with.
Then regardless of how safe the potential date appears to be on paper, sticking to a plan on a date is something that will help with safety. Teens need to go into a date with a plan of what will happen. This is where our four important questions, who, what, where and when, come into play. Girls need to be asking these questions to the guys they go out with. They also need to have an “escape plan” if the date begins to change. This is where we as parents need to be a safety net for our teens. We need to be available for picking them up, even late at night, if the plan changes and they need to come home. We need to constantly communicate that we are there for them through this process. WE also need to affirm the fact that our teens a far too special not to be asking the “Who, What, Where and When Questions.” We can communicate, “Honey, if someone invited me to spend an evening socially with them, these are the questions even I would ask.”
We have mentioned it many times before … communication is an important key to training. In order for you to be a safe place for your kids to come for accountability, there must be constant communication about the topic of dating. Many parents are scared to discuss their teen’s relationships because everything looks so different today. Many parents may also have a hard time getting their teen to open up about this topic. Especially if you are trying to create this open atmosphere late in the game, it may be difficult. We must consistently pursue our kids. This is where the concept of “dating” our children is very helpful. Going out to eat, coffee, or somewhere that is not your house may help to open the doors of communication in a neutral environment. One parent with one child…. like on a date. Setting this time up with your child weekly will help build the communication routine. If it’s not on the calendar it won’t happen. Make sure that you don’t go into these times with an “agenda.” This is a time just to be with and talk to your child. Communication about what is going on will come out with time. You can’t force it.
There are many ways parents can lead by example. Oddly the issue of dating is one of those. For those parents that are married we can set an example in our own relationships. Our relationship with our spouse should be something that our children want to copy. Whether we realize it or not there are always eyes watching how we treat each other. Ask yourself, “Is our marriage something that would make our children want to be married?”
For those who are single parents, you have an amazing opportunity to lead by example in a difficult area. If you do date, are you doing it the way you want your children to date? In a way that would honor God? It is an awesome opportunity to open the doors of communication as you journey through this stage with your kids. This is one of the few areas you can help to hold each other accountable.