Many of my Christian friends growing up in middle school and high school were technically not allowed to date. But most of them were dating anyway. They were close to their families and weren’t really rebellious. But their disregard for their parents’ rules about dating prompted little to no guilt.
If “good kids” are breaking a rule without the stirrings of conscience, it suggests the rule needs reexamination.
I sympathize with restricting a 15 year old from dating. I look at my baby boy and dread the way a girl may one day break his heart. I dread the sexual temptations he will one day face. It seems easier to make him wait until he’s older and better able to manage his emotions and mature enough to marry. The “make him,” of course, is problematic.
While the average age of entering into marriage has steadily risen, the bodies and hearts of teenagers have remained the same. Most 15 year olds desire romantic love, intensely. It feels natural to them because it is natural. Parents are fighting nature itself when they try to prevent 15 year olds from falling in love.
I’m not saying it’s never worth fighting natural instinct. Premarital sex, for most Christians, is a settled moral issue, but attitudes towards dating at a young age are widely varied. Those parents who restrict dating do it as more of a precaution against other things than as a condemnation of dating itself. And as regards falling in love, I don’t think most Christians parents believe it is wrong as much as they would like to, somehow, prevent it.
If you want to prevent your child from falling in love and encountering all of the pains and pleasures and temptations that such an experience creates, keep them away from the opposite sex. As long as your daughter is around boys and your son is around girls, they are going to fall in love. Sometimes passing on the street is all that’s required for the sparks to fly.
Parents are better off teaching children, early on, how to manage the promptings of love and desire. We are better off taking their feelings seriously, better off involving ourselves in the inevitable, so we can better help them, comfort them, and share in their hopes.
I would rather my son kiss a girl goodbye on our front steps than under the school staircase. I would rather him not have to worry about hiding his feelings so that dishonesty is not added to the list of temptations his virtues are being called upon to grapple with.
And in the end, who are we to say you can’t find “the one” at 15? It’s unlikely, but it’s possible and it does happen. And if “the one” comes into my son’s life at 15, I would like to know and not be shut out of that part of his life. And what if she ends up not being “the one”? What if it ends with his little heart broken? Well, then I want to be there all the more.