teenager

You Will Do Your Kids A Disservice If You Don’t Encourage Them To Date

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mom

My oldest son is only two, and I’m already excited for when he has his first girlfriend. I’m not talking about an adorable five-year-old that he pledges his love to in kindergarten, though that will be insanely cute. I’m talking about an actual girlfriend (or significant other) in middle school or high school.

I know parents get all kinds of hand-wringy about pre-teens and teens dating because ALL THE SEX. I promise you that my sweet children having sex is my least favorite thing to think about. I’m probably going to buy the 16 and Pregnant box set and make them watch it religiously starting at the age of 10. I don’t know, I haven’t thought that far ahead.

But once we get the sex issue under control, I think that dating around as a teen and young adult is vital. I was raised religiously, and although I was allowed to date, it was always understood that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage. Along with that, it was understood that you should be looking for THE ONE. The subtext that I drew from this was that it was “bad” to date multiple people because of temptation and because you may be missing out on the “one” God has for you.

It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I rebelled somewhat and started drinking and going out with friends and dating a string of ridiculous losers. None of the people I dated were legitimate boyfriend material, and some guys were sketchier than others. But that time of serial dating gave me some of my best memories and makes me feel like I’ve sampled the buffet without any regrets.

My husband married his high school girlfriend and was divorced in his early twenties, 100% because of his parents’ religious influence. He spent a little time playing the field before he and I got together, which, according to him, was exactly what he needed to feel like a normal person again.

It may be hard for me to encourage my kids to date with the potential for “the sex,” but I want them to experience it all—love and heartbreak and communication in multiple relationships before they even think about settling down.