Do you have young children? Are you fearful of what might happen as those precious children grow older and start showing interest in the opposite sex? If so, you are not alone! I remember my own fear, wondering how my family would maneuver those years. Now, as I find myself walking alongside two young adult children, I am finding it to be more enjoyable than I ever imagined it would be.
Over the years, much of what I did as a parent was motivated by fear. Yet God has been so faithful to remind me that even our best efforts as parents cannot change our children. That work belongs to the Holy Spirit – and to Him alone – as He draws them to Himself, opens their eyes, and transforms them. He infuses within them the desire to do what is right and gives them the strength to obey. And even if they stumble, His grace is strong enough to carry both them and us through the process. Remembering this truth removes the burden from my shoulders and throws it onto the shoulders of a faithful God.
With this in mind, I’d like to share 5 things that my husband and I prayerfully attempted to implement as we walked our children through this complex season of navigating relationships with the opposite sex.
- Facilitate conversations with your children. Our goal was to facilitate conversations with them about what they were thinking and feeling. Attempting to make the subject an ongoing dialogue, drawing them out, and even acknowledging their thoughts and attractions as valid, allowed them to talk to us without feeling embarrassment or shame for their feelings. No, we didn’t do this perfectly, and they didn’t always tell us everything they were thinking. But they knew the door was open and that we would try to direct them objectively.
- Don’t make another list of rules. Something I observed over the years, and was even tempted to impliment in our home early on, was the approach of turning relationships with the opposite sex into a list of rules to follow. More often than not, this approach will have the opposite result of what the well-meaning parents desires. If we enforce this “black and white” approach, we risk causing our children to feel guilty for having natural, God-given attractions.
- Don’t talk negatively about young people who are making poor choices in this area. God continues to remind me that we need to be so careful when we observe young people who may be struggling or making poor choices in this area. We cannot judge them and or parents. Not only does this sinful response show a lack of love, but it is another stance that communicates to our children that noticing the opposite sex is a negative thing. If you see teens who are going down a sinful path, make it a teaching opportunity by praying for them. Remind yourself and your kids that we are all are sinful and could all choose the wrong path.
- Pray, pray, and pray some more. There are many excellent resources that we can utilize, but ultimately we need to be on our knees and praying. This season can be confusing because each child is unique and the scriptures don’t give specific instructions for dating. It can be hard to know how to walk this season out. We need divine guidance.
- Listen carefully. We need to listen to our children and tune into their thought processes, remembering that each child is different and will mature at different rates. Create an atmosphere of grace so that they know they are loved no matter what choices they make.
Cling to God and ask for wisdom. God is so gracious to guide us as we seek Him. He loves our children and knows them better than we ever will. Let’s make it a priority to tune into our children, and to listen to God’s voice more than the many voices and opinions of this day and age.