The thought of approaching dating with your child can be overwhelming. As with so many aspects of parenting, it is important to decide your boundaries ahead of time so you can communicate them with your child. This is very difficult to communicate if there isn’t any open line of communication with your teen. Your child needs to feel very comfortable talking to you as a parent about this topic because you will be holding them accountable. Open lines of communication often means getting duct tape and taping your own moth closed. Let them talk. Don’t cut them off in mid sentence. Find topics to discuss and even read together about this topic.
One of the steps for preparation that will help open the doors of communication is to help your child create and discuss a spouse list. Do this as early as 12 or 13, because it will begin to open up dialog. A spouse list communicates the reason behind dating, to find a spouse, and begins to communicate that this is not something to be taken lightly.
You can sit down with your child, or go out to dinner, and help them create a list of things that they want in the person they marry. They will probably be superficial but that is where you can help to guide your child to think through important characteristics. You can have your child number them in order of importance and highlight the things that they will not bend on. It is a good idea to get the list out regularly and help your child keep revamping it as they mature.
As your child begins to date you can help them hold up their boyfriends/girlfriends to this list to see if they measure up. This helps your child set standards for themselves and hold themselves to these standards.