Your Child’s “In Love”, Now What?

Love is a tricky subject. There’s only one word for it in English. It’s easy for your child to think the butterflies caused by the person he or she is dating is the same love your child is looking for in a potential future spouse.

Hopefully, you’ve been talking about dating, love and marriage with your child for years. Or perhaps you haven’t discussed it at all, thinking it would work out well regardless. Your child may be a young teen with a crush on a schoolmate or a young adult hoping to marry in the next few years. Is there anything you can do at this point to help your child through this critical stage? Yes, but you need to be very careful.

It’s important to remember, ultimately this is your child’s life and decision. If you have a healthy relationship with your child though, you can probably do these things to help.

  • Pray. If you’ve already been praying for your child’s future mate, great! If not, it’s never too late to start. Pray very specific prayers. Pray that your child and their special someone make wise choices. Pray that they keep God at the center of their relationship. Pray God will help them see clearly if it is in His will that they remain together.
  • Have your child make a list. Detail oriented young people probably already have one. This isn’t to set up expectations anyone will perfectly match the list. If however, there are many areas where the person fails to meet the list, there may be a better match in someone else. (You don’t need to see the list, but be aware some of it may be unrealistic.)
  • Spend a lot of time with your child’s boyfriend/girlfriend. You need to spend as much quality time together as possible without making things awkward. Get to know them as a person. What are their hopes and dreams? How do they feel about God? How do they treat your child, their parents and others? How do they react under stress? As a somewhat more casual observer, you may be able to see red flags your child has missed. Watch particularly for controlling behavior, someone who tries to separate your child from you unnecessarily and if your child’s friends dislike the other person. It may not mean anything at all, but it indicates a need to look a little more closely.
  • Learn about the boyfriend/girlfriend’s family. This isn’t about money or status. It’s about how healthy the family environment was. If it’s not great, that doesn’t mean the relationship must end. They just need to be aware they may need more outside help to work through issues that are created by the trauma.
  • Help them set safe boundaries. The closer they get to engagement and marriage, the more difficult it is for many couples to obey God and avoid pre-marital sex. You don’t need to hire a professional chaperone, but you can casually suggest ways to help them avoid unnecessary temptation. (If your child’s an adult, this must be handled very carefully. You can’t give consequences and rules to adult children.)
  • Suggest pre-marital counseling before the engagement. My daughter and son-in-law developed this idea. They are from two different countries and wanted to make sure they had discussed everything that might cause an issue when people are from different cultures. It’s great because had they found serious issues, it is much easier to end a dating relationship than an engagement. In fact, you may want to add this to your family list of future expectations (like asking the parents first).
  • Be loving and supportive. Don’t sweat the small stuff or you will push both of them away and set yourself as the common enemy. Focus only on anything that will put your child in danger spiritually, physically, emotionally or mentally. Everything else is personal taste and you need to accept those choices – even if they don’t match your personal taste.

You can’t control whom your child chooses to love. With love and care however, you can help your child make wise romantic choices. It’s a delicate balance, but with such an important life changing choice, you need to be supportive in godly, parental ways.

What Christian Parents Need to Start Teaching Their Sons

What Christian Parents Need to Start Teaching Their Sons - Parenting Like HannahCurrently, our society is in the midst of the #MeToo movement. Regardless of what you think of the movement and those involved, a harsh reality remains. The messages our world sends about love and particularly sex are the opposite of what God intended for us. Sadly, Christian parents are often just as guilty of teaching ungodly messages to their children as non-Christians. This seems to be particularly common amongst parents of young men.

When I was a young teen, my older girl friends at church would tell me they often got the most pressure to ignore God’s commands for sexual purity from the Christian guys they dated. I thought it was rather strange at the time, but when I started dating, I found much of the same dynamic. As I dated more, I realized part of the reason why this often happened.

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Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After - Parenting Like HannahPrincesses seem to be a natural part of childhood. For hundreds of years and in multiple cultures, there has been some version of the story of Cinderella. In spite of the twists and turns each may take, they all end the same…Cinderella and Prince Charming live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, life isn’t quite as simple and easy as a fairy tale. Even Christians who marry, struggle from time to time in marriage. And many Christians find themselves in the not so happily ever after of divorce.

Yet study after study shows the importance for kids to have parents who are married, living in the same home together, parenting their kids. Healthy marriages should be a top priority for Christians – especially those with children.

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Fun Ways to Teach Kids Godly Principles During the Holidays

Fun Ways to Teach Kids Godly Principles During the Holidays - Parenting Like HannahOne of the best things about the holidays is that your kids get time off from school and many of their activities. Bed times can be a bit later, because they can sleep in a little longer. You have more time at home together.

What does your family do with that extended family time? If you use even some of that time more intentionally, you can have fun with your kids while teaching them some important things God wants them to know.

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Christian Kids and Dating

Christian Kids and Dating - Parenting Like HannahParents often start talking about dating when their child comes home announcing he or she wants to go on a first date. Sadly for many teens, creating a heart that is ready to date on God’s terms, should have begun many years earlier when they were still children.

Christian parents often think they are protecting their kids by refusing to talk about dating, sex, purity, marriage and other similar topics until the teen years. What these parents don’t realize is that their children are most likely already having these conversations with peers or using television shows, movies and the internet to learn about them.

Having these conversations with your kids is uncomfortable even for those comfortable talking about those topics with their spouses and other adults. And for those who aren’t comfortable, having their teeth pulled without novocaine sounds a lot more fun.

If you don’t have these conversations though, you are setting your kids up for failure. The pressure to act in ungodly ways is hard enough on any teen or young adult. For those who haven’t been given enough tools to deal with it in godly ways, they will be particularly likely to give in to peer pressure.

So what sorts of conversations should you have with children about these sensitive, but important topics?

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