Kids, dating, and the connection to divorce!
No one who has ever been to grade school or high school has escaped the seemingly universal pressure to have a "boy friend" or a "girl friend." Parents are always dealing with the aftermath of such relationships, and no kid who ever went through these relationships didn't suffer the pain related to it.
The questions to ask in this regard are, "what is the benefit or downside of this ritual?" and "Why is it such a "natural" part of growing up? The pressure to find someone to "go steady" with can be not only intense, but it leads to serious self-esteem issues with many. Rejection in not having a "steady" is one aspect, but a more serious element of this practice is that it, in every way, is preparing kids for divorce, something God definitely does not like...
Mal 2:16 "For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce..."
Consider; Dating is, socially, meant to be the mechanism whereby people meet and get to know someone of the opposite sex. It is designed to be the process whereby people can interact and begin to develop their own sense of self-identity among their peers, but also, the means to discover what one likes and doesn't like in the opposite sex.
There is no way that a child, even through the teen years, naturally has experience or knowledge of all the social and personal nuances of relationships, and dating is the tool to discover these quirks of personalities. God certainly desires people to grow up, marry and have children. That is one of our purposes in life...
Gen 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; NIV
However, traditional dating practices are sabotaging the end result of marriage and a life-long commitment to another.
Kids even in grade school are allowed and even encouraged to "go steady" or to find that "one" they feel "in love" with. We've all been through that "love" scenario, often many times, so let's analyze it a bit. Kids find someone they are initially "attracted" to for one or more reasons. We, as a society, have been geared to believe (often through wrong, or absent parenting) that the emotional response usually associated with our attraction to someone else is "love." How many times do kids (and adults) believe they are "in love" over their school years and beyond, and how many times does that "love" disappear?
This is where the trap is sprung. Kids gravitate toward that "one," and tend to avoid getting to know others at the same time. That is, there is the pressure of jealousy that can set in, and the feeling that two people who are attracted to each other "must" go steady." Steady means they date no one else. This "one" is special, and I can't date others or they will become upset, or feel unwanted or feel that one's feelings aren't genuine.
How many of us adults can remember going steady in high school (or grade school?) only to later "break up" with that "one" and move on to another "one" and go steady all over again? The breakup hurts, but then passes, and we move on to do it again, and again, as do our kids. Or, sometimes there was a break up between the same couple, numerous times. Issues developed, feelings flying all over the place and the easy and quick solution was to "break up," thus, the first lesson in divorce 101.
Now imagine that taking place even a few times, but more often, it occurs many times over the course of grade and high school. This is literally practicing the art of "falling in love (lust), "breaking up," and taking the easy path out of a relationship. This type of "breaking up" in the adult world is called divorce, and we are allowing our kids to be trained in the art of divorce even before they get out of high school. What ever were we, or are we, thinking?
By minimizing our kid's dating experiences, (that is, dating many peers) we minimize their chances for a happy and "steady" marriage in the future. Dating many different people and personalities help kids to discover what they like and what they don't. Personalities can clash or they can compliment. Dating various people over time, and helping our kids to understand the importance of understanding the difference between emotional responses, and "love." Unfortunately, many adults still don't know the difference, and divorce is the easy way out.
Group dating, where boys and girls get together for various events, helps everyone learn, and takes the risks out of being alone and in a situation where unexperienced emotions can run away with them. It isn't an easy thing to instill into our kids, because it must be taught from the beginning, and supported by lots of love and security for them so that they will not feel the need to go out and find it elsewhere before its time. If love and security is not found in the home, kids will try to replace it with some one or some thing outside the home, and too often, that leads to trouble
By the way, dating is oftentimes equated with having sex with that person during that "dating" period. This is another trap many fall into because sex is meant to be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship, period. Sex, as part of the dating ritual, whether kids or adults, adds a whole new, and premature, dimension to the relationship, and allows deceptions to occur in emotions and beliefs about the other person.
If the need for sex is a pressure anyone feels in a growing (and unmarried) relationship, then this should be a red flag to any one of us. Kids can certainly understand that flag, and realize that it is the cheapening of any relationship outside marriage. It is someone wanting something for nothing, and likely not committed to anything sex can ultimately bring... a stronger relationship bound by a very personal ( and not cheap) experience, children, and a naturally strong and morally healthy society. Anything apart from that brings us to the animal level of sexual experiences, which damages emotions, and hardens hearts.
Try to let get your kids to understand this "practicing for divorce" concept and perhaps they will apply some of God's natural protections in His laws as a self-preservation technique, and showing love toward their friends, if not for the sake of believing God and trusting is His will for us.
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