"Is it really that big of a deal for me as a parent to know where I stand regarding dating and romance for my kids when my child is only in preschool? Or elementary school? Or middle school? I think we can wing it when the time comes. What's the big deal?"
Our kids are constantly bombarded with messages even at a very young age about romance, love, dating, and marriage. Messages come from music, shows and movies, even video games with their seductive images. Most of these messages do way more harm than good in impacting your child's perception on these issues. Of course, reducing their intake of media goes along way in helping their beliefs about these concepts and parents can also speak a clear and impactful message on these topics with our kids as well. This blog post & podcast episode 125, will be two things:
1. A list of questions for you, the parent. Take some time to figure out what your message is going to be through your years of parenting in this complex issue. Don't wait to figure out your philosophy, because the messages they are getting are happening even at young ages, so your messages have to start young as well.
2. The second part of this blog post is a NIGHT OF FUN, BONDING, and WISDOM-GIVING regarding your child's heart, romantic love, dating, and the meaning of marriage. With Valentine's one week away, this is the perfect opportunity to have a night like this, but you can also use these ideas anytime.
I want to help your voice about romantic love to be a voice of wisdom and intentionality and confidence. That begins by figuring out where you do stand on all of these issues. This blog post includes a lot of questions for you and your spouse to discuss together as you figure out your solid position on these complex issues. The earlier the two of you know your message, the more effective that message will be.
For many years, our family Valentine's Day consisted of my husband giving my daughters' a flower each and mem giving the boys some goodie bags. Then we'd have a nice meal at home and end with cake. Not too shabby of a plan, right?
A few years ago, in our private Facebook group Intentional mom strong family, I had made a post asking you all if you had any family traditions for Valentines Day. Your ideas were great and they got me to thinking that maybe I should do more for this day as an opportunity to bond the family, and to demonstrate to our kids how much we treasure each of them individually.
As I began making plans to show our kids how much we love them, God began working on my heart and showing me that there is a second emphasis I should place on my plan – and that is to impact our children’s perspective about romantic love, dating, and marriage.
Part 1 of this blog post: Developing a Parent Philosophy about dating, love, and the meaning of marriage
In raising our children and preparing them for life, we want to increase the time we devote to instilling wisdom in their hearts regarding romantic love, guarding their hearts, who they marry, and how to do marriage well.
Whether we are a single parent or a married parent, there are so many important principles we want to pour into the hearts of our children regarding romantic love.
In a few minutes, I’m going to give you some recommendations for a FUN, BONDING Family Night for Treasuring Their Hearts, but first I want to give you a list of questions regarding decisions you really want to make as parents.
Where do you stand on the following issues and what principles do you want to guide your parenting through the years regarding Romantic Love:
🤍What do you wish your kids knew about romantic love, guarding their hearts, and dating?
🤍What benefits did you experience in dating when you did and how you did?
🤍What problems did you experience in dating when you did and how you did?
🤍Why do kids often seek a boyfriend or girlfriend?
Is it because all the other kids are? Is it because they like the idea of romance? Is it because they long to be chosen? Is it because they long to be pursued? Are they connecting their self-worth to who likes them? Who pursues them? Do they need validation? Where should their self-worth and validation come from? I want my child’s self-worth to come from knowing they were created with a purpose. I want their self-worth to come from knowing who they are as an individual and who they are becoming. I want their self-worth to come from knowing they are a part of a family who loves them and that they have a unique and important role in the family, and in the community, and among their friends, and in their society, and in their church. I want them to be aware of their strengths and also be working on their weaknesses. The growing up years are a time for growth and becoming and exploring interests and overcoming obstacles and identifying problems in the world that they can be a part of the solution. And it is about knowing who they are in Christ, the unique ways He made them, and the one-of-a-kind message they are becoming in the world – a message of God’s grace, and goodness, and beauty, and creativity. Here’s what I’m saying – pursuing and maintaining a romantic relationship too young, can easily thwart their life development.
🤍What age is too young to have a romantic relationship? And what age is old enough to start dating?
If you don’t want them dating too young, you need to know that so you can let that principle impact how you parent them before the dating years arrive. If you know you want them to wait until the older teen years, for example, to date, then is it a good idea to joke about them having a boyfriend or girlfriend when they are five? Does that influence their self-perception? You are the parent, and that is a call for you to make. I just want to encourage you to think through where you as parents stand on some issues regarding romantic love and don’t delay in figuring out where you stand. The earlier the better so that your parenting influence regarding romantic love can be more intentional and effective. I know, my two favorite words for parents – intentional and effective. Well, yes, that is exactly what my ministry is about. It is realizing that it’s not good enough to mean well as a parent. We have to learn how to be effective in our efforts. And it is my prayer that this episode will help you to be more effective and intentional in your parenting your children about romantic love.
Here's some other questions you want to figure out the right answers for your family long before your kids become interested in romantic thoughts or ideas.
🤍What do we want to teach our kids about guarding the other person’s heart in a romantic relationship?
🤍What kind of criteria do we want to recommend to our child about selecting someone to date?
🤍How well do we want our child to know someone before they go on a date?
🤍How well do we need to know the person who wants to date our child if our child isn’t an adult yet?
🤍Do we want our kids to have “boyfriends” or “girlfriends at young ages? 🤍Are we going to joke about our kids having a boyfriend or girlfriend?
🤍What are good boundaries in dating? 🤍How can a person date in such as a way as to keep those boundaries? 🤍What is the purpose of dating?
🤍What is the purpose of marriage? 🤍What marriage principles do we want to share with our children? 🤍What have we done well in our marriage that we want to pass on to our kids?
🤍What are some regrets we have in marriage that we want to warn about to our kids?
Here's a link to some recent discussions we have had in the Intentional Mom Strong Family Facebook group regarding some of these questions: Part A Part B Part C Part D (It is a private group that you would need to join before viewing).
Well, I have opened up a lot of questions without giving very many answers today. I really hope you will spend some time formulated your own thoughts on these issues.
As we begin season three of the Practically Speaking MOM Podcast in a couple of weeks, this will be one of many topics in which we take a deeper dive.
One of my daughters, Abby, who is a senior in high school this year, and I will discuss several books together on the podcast regarding this topic and other topics as well. That way you hear a teen perspective and a seasoned mom perspective (I'm a mom of seven with five them adults and some of them are married with kids).
We have lots of other themes for the third season, but more about that in a couple of weeks!
Part 2: Family Fun Bonding Activities for Wisdom-Giving about Love, Dating, and the Meaning of Marriage
Let's wrap up today by my sharing some ideas with you for impacting your child’s heart on Valentines Day. (Here's a link to a great former episode regarding Valentines Day when some of my kids joined me in the studio for a discussion).
Some ways for each family member to feel treasured:
*Give your kids art supplies so they can make a valentine for each family member – telling what they love about that person or why they appreciate them.
*Have each child make a little valentine poster for everyone to write a loving message to that child on their poster so they can hang it in their room.
*Draw names among family members. Find secret ways to bless the family member whose name you drew every day for a few days or a week. For example, they could secretly… make their bed, set their favorite snack on their pillow, complete one of their chores and leave them a note telling them their chore has been completed… Then on Valentine’s Day everyone can guess who drew their name.
*Have a family brainstorming session to make acrostics of each family members’ name, identifying special characteristics of that person. Use these acrostics as the name plates for the family Valentine meal.
A Valentine Plan Your Family will Never Forget -
to TREASURE ONE ANOTHER & INSTILL WISDOM REGARDING ROMANTIC LOVE into your children’s hearts:
Each family member contributes to the evening in the following ways:
1. Everyone provides part of the decorations. They could provide flowers, make name place cards or placemats, make a fancy menu page, hang a string of lights, paper chain, streamers, or balloons, make big hearts with Bible verses about love on them, or they could set the table with your family’s nicest dishes and glasses.
2. Each family member contributes to the meal. They could make the salad, bread, appetizer, main dish, dessert, etc. You get the idea. Including them in the ingredients gathering at the store is also an added fun step to this, if you don’t mind a little chaos at the grocery store. Little ones can contribute too. They may not be able to entirely make a dish alone, but they can help with one.
3. Everyone provides some aspect of entertainment. They could provide the dinner music by selecting songs from Spotify, read a poem, sing a song, or do a magic trick. My daughter Emma collect some jokes to read to the family. She asked her sister to strum the guitar behind her jokes. It made it hilarious. Think of this as a variety show. It can be lighthearted and funny.
Those are the way each family member contributes. What does Mom and Dad do to bring some fresh wisdom regarding romantic love to this special occasion?
1. You could share a bit of your love story with your kids. Even if your spouse has passed away or you are divorced, it is still so good for your children to hear about the story that led to their existence. Be sure to teach some lessons in your story. Some lessons you learned along the way. If they are old enough, you can share some regrets as well.
2. A super fun way to do this would be to have the kids come up with some questions for mom and dad to play a clean version of the Newly Wed Game. This could be a lot of fun. Wrap up the time by sharing some important principles you want your kids to know about A. Guarding their hearts B. Dating and C. Marriage
Now it’s family movie time! Select an appropriate family movie that includes some romance.
Ask them the following questions: *How did the characters in the movie handle their own hearts?
* How did the characters in the movie handle other people’s hearts?
*Did they let their feelings lead their actions or did they lead their hearts?
Here's some movies we like for this use:
Emma (the one with Gwenyth Paltrow. NOT the most recent one!)
Cinderella (the Disney 2015 version
Love Comes Softly
Sense and Sensibility
Want some more podcast episodes on the topic? Here you go!