teenagers-dating-in-high-school

Underage Dating: The Elephant in the Social Conservative Living-Room

I have a bone to pick with young, socially conservative Americans, and I know it’s something that will get under your skin. Just sit tight, though, and hear me out, because the elephant in our tidy little room is starting to tear things up. It’s time we acknowledge his existence, and maybe even call in some animal movers to take him back to the zoo.

I currently live in a small community in the Bible-belt of the country and I have been given some opportunities to mentor young people from my area through different venues. I can count on one hand the kids I know from the local high school whose parents have never been divorced.  I’ve witnessed reactions of genuine surprise and envy from students who hear that my parents are still together. In any given conversation with groups of youth, I can expect to hear continual references to step-parents, step-siblings, and half-siblings. Divorce is a way of life down here – albeit one that has taken its toll in the lives of the young people that will make up the next generation.

However, while I could certainly write extensively on my experience with the negative effects of divorce on children and on society at large, I actually want to address something else entirely.  I have concerns about the number one way that our culture chooses to perpetuate the cancer of broken marriages and failed relationships– underage dating.

You can follow them on Facebook – the failed attempts at love, I mean. Somebody is always changing their status from “in a relationship” to “single.” Unfortunately, a huge number of these disappointed lovers are too young to be legally married. I wonder sometimes if I am the only one who winces to hear a thirteen-year old speak with cavalier abandon of his or her “ex?”  Since when is it considered healthy and acceptable for underage people to be in “relationships?” Just what do parents and educators expect to be the result of the romantic conquests of these middle-school children and young high school students? The results I’ve witnessed personally are beyond disturbing; they are downright sinister, and have caused me to question whether or not those who claim to champion marital fidelity and family values are paying any attention at all to the standards we are passing to our children.

The trouble with underage dating is that it presents an entirely faulty view of what interaction with the opposite gender should be about. Rather than placing emphasis on building one strong relationship with one person at a stage of life when a marital commitment is feasible, dating encourages young people to pour their energies into consistently seducing other young people at a time when neither of them are capable of making any long-term commitments. Their “relationships” are destined to fail from the get-go because they are founded on unhealthy perceptions of love and not backed by any real necessity to stick it out.

The beauty of marriage, as it was intended to be, is that it teaches two people of opposite genders to learn to work through incompatibilities and give of themselves. In the same way, the great ugliness of dating as it is practiced by our culture and portrayed by our media, is that it teaches two people of opposite genders to be selfish by giving them an easy “out” when things don’t go according to their initial feelings. I believe it is fair to say that this form of dating is a training manual for divorce, because it encourages young people to grow accustomed to giving their hearts away and then taking them back.

Sadly, parents who should know better continue to display shocking naïveté regarding the absurd practices of driving their twelve year olds out on a “date,” or purchasing provocative clothing for their sixteen-year-olds, or sympathizing with their broken-hearted fourteen-year-olds by assuring them that they’ll “find someone better.” “They’re just having fun,” they’ll tell us, rolling their eyes at what they consider to be our tightly wound principles. I work a volunteer shift at Crisis Pregnancy Clinic where I witness every week the ruined lives and broken dreams that “fun” has left with our youth.

Another defense offered for the ridiculous habit of underage dating is that the kids are “just learning how to relate to the opposite sex.” It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to figure out that what they’re really learning is how to recover quickly from a break-up and set their sights on another gorgeous and equally hormonal person. The culture of dating is a culture of hunger and unsatisfied eyes that are always looking around for affirmation via someone or something else.

But perhaps the most ludicrous and most willfully naïve assertion is that “relationships” between young teens are “not really about sex.” Just what do we think such relationships are about between people too young to be interested in any of the other things (family, stability, home-making, etc. ) that come out of  a romantic involvement with the opposite gender? Contrary to such half-baked assurances, it is all about sex for these young people. Whenever they forget that, the pop-culture is quick to remind them of it. In the media, girls are unfailingly presented as having value to boys only in proportion to their physique and their manner of flaunting it. Boys are presented as bestial and incapable of responsibility. Overwhelming, this is the primary message being offered to our kids by the movies, magazines, music artists, and commercials directed at their age group. It is inexcusably irrational for us to suppose that their relationships with one another are untainted by the stereotypes that surround them.

If the situation is so straightforward, why is there not a greater resistance to this cultural trend that trivializes relationships and produces jaded and cynical people who have already been through the warm fuzzies of love and are ready to settle for mere physical gratification by the age of eighteen? Could it be that big-money industries like Justin Bieber and Hannah Montana, who thrive off of exploiting our hormonally charged youth, are partially responsible for throwing the wool over the eyes of so many well-meaning parents? Are sex-education advocates like Planned Parenthood, who profit from purchases of birth control and abortions, throwing money at the movement to desensitize parents to the perils of underage “relationships?” Are we really being duped into sacrificing our kids for the buck?

While social conservatives may proclaim the virtues of pre-marital abstinence and fidelity, their actions don’t line up with their words. They behave as though they expect our young people to embrace or at least abide by the values we preach to them, all the while continuing to direct them in lifestyle choices that foster the opposite principles and attitudes. And we wonder why 95% of Americans admitted to having premarital sex in 2006? Or why it was estimated in 2008 that 40% of all US marriages ended in divorce? Or why 4 in 10 children are born to unwed mothers today? My friends, it’s time for us to wake up and make the connections between the dating scene and the deterioration of the stable American family.

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Bryana Johnson :: Texas A&M University :: Dallas, Texas :: @HighTideJournal

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448 Responses

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  1. Johnk56
    Apr 29, 2014 - 10:03 PM

    It’ll also save a lot of cash and time for those on a restricted budget who aafdfbefeaed

    Reply
  2. Jack
    Mar 20, 2014 - 09:22 AM

    This was a good article. I think anyone who is in opposition to this article either doesn’t understand what scripture says about marriage, or they got their feelings hurt because the truth you pointed out applied to them.

    Reply
  3. Amelia
    Aug 27, 2013 - 03:46 PM

    I understand as a Christian that you are trying to find a solution to so many broken marriages in our modern society. However, as a teen I am in opposition to many claims made in this post. It is judgmental and derogatory to assume that all young people’s relationships are solely based on sex, as if their parents never told them what marriage is. I will admit that I do know people who have strictly sexual relationships by their choosing, but that does not deny me, as a young person, the right to have a meaningful relationship with another young person. I also hope you are not reading this comment and picturing me as a young, angsty teen just out to get conservatives. I am trying to not sound harsh or detrimental, but I just wanted to voice my opinion as a Christian youth of the present generation. Just because people have different views or lifestyles does not mean they are bound for ruined relationships. My parents started dating when they were sixteen years old, had premarital sex, and will be celebrating the 27th wedding anniversary next month. Some people just fall in love at a young age, and THAT IS OKAY. One thing I do passionately refute is the claim that sex-education is setting kids up for disaster. At my public high school they teach kids about sex, but campaign abstinence. It is perfectly healthy for kids to understand the actual scientific facts and logistics of sex, so they don’t have difficulty in their future sex-lives with their spouse. Also many classrooms give kids protective options if they choose to have sex, but always campaign abstinence as the only sure birth control. And to any parents reading this, this pertains to me and maybe not your child, but every time on of my parents says something hurtful, or unsupportive about my relationship, rather than building me up and encouraging me, it only makes me crave rebellion. I also become unresponsive and hard to communicate with. It is my belief that the reason there are so many failed marriages is because people have become lazy, and grown accustomed to instant gratification in this country that they don’t want to work for their marriages when their is an uneasy, but repairable loss of passion or conflict.I’m sorry if this comment seems blunt or harsh, I just wanted to use my American right of letting my thoughts be heard.

    Reply
    • Abby
      Sep 07, 2014 - 09:47 PM

      Dear Amelia,

      Most importantly, I want to congratulate your parents on their happy and successful marriage. :)
      You sound like a very intelligent and pure-hearted young woman, which I do not doubt that you are. I am also a Christian teen who may have many friends that share the same view as you on young relationships. Please do not feel in any way that I am condemning or looking down on you or your parents, for I imagine speaking to you just as I would with a friend.
      I just want to present you with a question: is not sex before marriage adulterous, for then a man does not fully belong to the woman he has done it with, and the woman likewise? As a Christian, I would believe that you would know and honor the Ten Commandments, which you probably do. However, Our Lord considers it immoral to behave in such a way; take Ephesians 5:5 for example:
      “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
      From a social viewpoint, the consequences could be great with premarital sex. Your parents may have had enough love and respect for each other to eventually marry, but in many relationships nowadays that fails to be true. Take irresponsible sex between young people, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy for example. Sure, there is always abortion to resort to, but is not abortion murder? (which eventually leads back to religion, as all things do.)
      God has made the rules of society with perfection; it is with loss of moral perception through modern times that has made many people think this way, yet God remains the same. Why do you think He created such commands just so they could be ignored? Do they not save us from despair?
      Are any of the sins people commit today, especially over the matter of abortion, teaching all of us humans to love each other?
      Young love is a beautiful yet rare thing. Perhaps the relationship you are in right now is truly love, but what really defines love?
      In my opinion, it is giving all you have unconditionally to the other person. Such an act can be summed up with one word: marriage.
      Marriage is hopefully not just sexual attraction; it is uniting under God, it is professing your love truly and absolutely. If you intend to marry whoever you “love” tomorrow, then so be it. That is actual love.
      Feel free to respond or correct me, if you feel I might be wrong in any way. I would enjoy talking to you!

      Reply
  4. Conservative 20 year old female
    Aug 23, 2013 - 10:17 PM

    This article is incredibly naive and insulting. It is demeaning to all of us who are dating with the purpose of finding someone to be with forever. Whether you live following religious values or not is irrelevant. The bottom line is love. Why should kiss have to settle for less than what they deserve? Why should I marry someone at a young age, when It is possible my soul mate is someone I won’t meet until I’m 30? So that I can pop out children, struggle at a young age? Those who preach marrying young for any reason, religious or not, are teaching their children to settle and are preparing their kids for disappointment and probably divorce. If I, as a young woman of 20, am not fully developed mentally until 25, how am I supposed to make a decision that should be binding for the rest of my life?
    Another issue, which I’m sure most readers here will disagree with is just the way sex is viewed. Sex should not be treated as a vial disgusting thing that is distasteful. You should teach your children it is something natural and beautiful that is worth the wait.
    Love is the bottom line. It shouldn’t be seen as shameful, whether you believe on premarital sex or not, love is an intense incredible connection with another human being. When I am mature enough to choose my partner for the rest of my life and we have children, I will be proud to tell them I did not settle and used both my head and my heart to find their father.

    Reply
  5. Ethan
    Aug 22, 2013 - 03:29 PM

    This article seems a little naive to me. I can honestly say with each person I dated, whether in high school or college, I learned a lot about myself, about others, and relationships in general.

    Reply
  6. Jonathan
    Jul 26, 2013 - 09:44 PM

    LOL @ this entire article.

    Reply
  7. Leslie Bole
    Jul 01, 2013 - 10:51 AM

    I have a young preteen, and I constantly talk about boys in the context of marriage, not dating. That’s what dating if for, or courting, whatever name or system you want to use. You can break up with someone if you don’t want to marry them, but don’t START dating unless the person is a good CANDIDATE for marriage. So I agree with this article, and it organized many ideas I already had. Thank you this article.

    Reply
    • Jacob Sims
      Jul 07, 2013 - 10:06 AM

      Leslie I see what you are trying to get across and I think truthfully “underage” dating is not about who you’re going to get married to. I see relationships between people go on and off, and i know truthfully they don’t have a strong relationship and most probably won’t get married, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t date. I see underage dating as a temporary thing for teens to get a little taste of what love is, for future uses. Teens don’t know what they are doing right now with their life and still need time to grow and learn, and maybe dating is a great way for them to progress through life with someone caring about them, and in the end if it doesn’t work out its not like you wasted your life on that relationship, but you gained knowledge and respect for yourself that you got that far. I do understand that by the time you’re in late high school and early college you should be looking for the “one” but there is a lot of time for the teens to acknowledge that and move forward in their life.

      Reply
  8. Denise Felt
    Jul 01, 2013 - 10:12 AM

    This is the most intelligent article I have read about this problem! Thank you for addressing an issue no one seems to want to consider even exists!

    Reply
  9. Monica72
    Jul 01, 2013 - 02:39 AM

    Wow. I think your opinion on this is as naive as it gets. You speak about the naïveté that parents show by supporting their teens’ relationships. I think it is more naive to think that someone can know what they want out of a relationship without ever having experienced being in one.

    If you have been in ‘failed teen relationships’, (sexual or not, that’s up to everyone individually) you learn more about yourself and what you want out of your relationship. You learn what you think is best for your future kids, for you, for your future. If you don’t get the chance to do that, your marriage will probably fail even sooner, because you run into problems and situations you don’t know how to deal with. I thinks teens (above 15 maybe, even I think 11-year olds shouldn’t ‘date’) should be able to experience different parts of life before they throw themselves into a lifelong commitment which is destined to fail if they don’t.

    Reply
    • ExPlayboy
      Jul 01, 2013 - 05:27 PM

      I dated all through high school and college, and it only taught me life’s lessons the hard way. I learned what was important to me after I moved out, and didn’t have the constant company of my family, and the people I hung around with only chased empty pursuits.

      I was too immature in high school to know I was being emotionally manipulated, and told “if you love me, you’ll do it,” because that’s what people do in relationships [/sarc]. I learned that physical pleasure and the chemical/emotional effects can easily cloud a teen’s judgement. I learned that the parents of my girlfriends were absolutely nuts for letting us “cuddle” in bed together while watching movies late into the night. I learned after the fact that the only appropriate postures for any unmarried person who is dating are the liturgical postures (standing, sitting, kneeling).

      Underage dating taught me two things, jack and squat, and jack left town. In the long run, “underage dating” taught me I was far too young, immature, and unaware of my priorities and goals to date. The mistakes I made (and the parents of my ex-girlfriends made) are firmly seared into my brain and will greatly affect the things my children are allowed to do when dating, specifically the age and maturity at which they begin dating.

      Reply
    • Anna
      Jul 02, 2013 - 08:06 PM

      I am 25 years old, and my husband and I just celebrated 3 wonderful years of marriage and we are more in love now than we were when we began our marriage, if that’s possible. Yes we’ve fought, but we have learned to work together–we started learning that as friends, then learned it as boyfriend and girlfriend, then while planning our wedding, and it continues now. We met when I was 17 and he was almost 19, and started dating a year later, just after I turned 18. He is the only relationship I have ever been in–I had the offer of one just after he and I met, and I seriously considered it, but turned the other guy down–and I am so glad I did!

      You don’t have to be in a dating relationship to know what you need out of a best friend and partner for life–you can figure that out in solid friendships. Unless you would consider marrying someone at the “end” of a successful dating relationship, why date them in the first place? If you’re not ready for marriage, why would you date? Sure, if a great friendship turns into dating with the intention of considering each other for marriage, but then goes downhill, you are free to break from that–but life is hard enough without setting yourself up for failure from the beginning by dating someone you’re not sure if you could marry in the first place.

      Reply
    • Dean'72
      Jul 02, 2013 - 09:47 PM

      Monica72, your reply is the naive one and the one without experiential support. Our grandparents’ generation is the one that stayed married for fifty plus years. The generation of “free love” misfits of the 60s and 70s is the same generation with the exploding divorce rate and epidemic STDs even into old age. Do you not see a relationship between repeatedly giving one’s body and heart away at a young age and the hurt and anguish of a lifetime of broken relationships?

      Reply
  10. Slaze
    Jun 29, 2013 - 07:11 PM

    I’m fine with underage dating. Haters gonna hate.

    Reply
  11. Leslie
    Jun 24, 2013 - 08:18 AM

    I am grateful everyday for my Mormon faith, which has counseled for decades for families to teach their children not to date until age 16 and then only to date in groups until high school is over. Such wisdom, and safety is found in these principles!

    Reply
  12. Becca
    Jun 22, 2013 - 10:30 AM

    Excellent article. Children should behave like children- not young adults. Parents should be Parents and TRAIN their children in the way they should go – not just let them drift out there with the sperm flying and vaginas opened wide! Parents have stopped being true parents. Many of them have given NO spiritual training to any of their children and are not following it themselves.

    Reply
  13. Jim
    Jun 20, 2013 - 02:04 AM

    Bryana, I am thankful that you are concerned with the widespread divorce you see around you. I am also thankful that you want to positively influence young people in their development toward healthy marriages.

    How do you feel about arranged marriage (as it seems like a potentially logical alternative)? How do you feel about young teenagers being married in scripture? Are you married? If you aren’t, do you feel like you can offer solid perspective to young teens in how to disciple their minds into being ready for something you haven’t experienced?

    You ask random fear-inducing questions as if they lead to some sort of logical conclusion. You essentially question whether or not Planned Parenthood is a secret corporate sponsor of Justin Bieber so that they can profit off of more abortions. This is beyond silly and has nothing to do with the point you are making. I understand the role media plays, but this isn’t the way to bring it up.

    Again, I appreciate your concern for tweens and teens you see on your Facebook feed. I pray that by all means possible that they are able to marry with great wisdom and discernment and change the increasing trend toward divorces becoming commonplace. Just please leave the sensationalist writing at the door when you write about such important issues.

    Reply
    • Brent
      Jun 25, 2013 - 06:02 PM

      Jim,

      There is nothing random at all about the points Bryana brings up. But they should produce fear. All you have to do is read the story of Carol Everett to see how Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers actively work to desensitize children toward their sexuality.
      You also asked Bryana if she was married. Does that really matter? Do you have to be a fireman to know if a house is on fire?

      Reply
      • investstrategist
        Jun 30, 2013 - 08:29 AM

        A friend of mine had to take her 7th grade son out of school because of the latchkey lipstick parties of the girls and their man of the hour and being accosted at school in ways inappropriate that administrators refused to address…..will not modest here….when prayer is not in schools….prey is….. this system can flourish in summertime….

        17 teens pledged to be pregnant @ one HS before school let out…unfortunately….succeeded…

        winking, flirting, carrying books, pulling hair……out….

        Speak out!

    • Lindsay
      Jul 01, 2013 - 12:19 PM

      Arranged marriage? really, Jim? I am an educator in a lower-class middle school (that’s 7th and 8th graders). I can tell you right now, that these children – and I use that word deliberately – are frankly concerned with very little except their relationships. I see every day parents pushing kids into having a boyfriend/girlfriend and being ‘popular.’ This is soooooo stressful to the kids, who are really running on no more than hormones. I see guys and girls completely crushed by a break-up – they begin cutting themselves, start false rumors about the ex, contemplate suicide, become depressed, or find another boyfriend/girlfriend and ‘go all the way.’

      As far as young teenagers married in scripture, there is a completely different set of social strictures in the Bible. You were counted as an adult male by your mid-teens and adult female by your menstruation. We don’t do that here in America. We say that kids are not legally responsible until 18.

      What does being married have to do with noticing societal trends? Why should her marital status affect her perception of a problem?

      I can honestly say that I think our society is doing our young people a dis-service. How many times have you heard someone say, “He traded his wife in for a newer model?” or “Wow! Look at that cougar?” or “It’s only my pregnancy that’s keeping us together.” We are surrounding our children with a false image of relationships. Let’s be honest; a true relationship has much more to do with kindness, service, and shared goals than with hanging out at the mall. Why can’t we teach our children to search for these things instead of looking down on them for being incomplete because they are not in a relationship.

      I think before you attack her for asking “fear-inducing questions” you should spend some time at your local middle school. You will be completely shocked by the words, dress, and behavior of these small adults who should really still be children. I think that her article was not sensational enough, personally. This is a huge problem that is only getting bigger and won’t end until we wake up and realize that it’s not “cute” to set our children up for emotional heartbreak by pushing them into these “relationships” which are truly destined to fail. We call them COWs – Crush Of the Week. Do you honestly think it emotionally healthy to tell your child they have found the love of their life at the age of 13, when they can’t even pick a favorite color that lasts longer than three days?

      Reply
  14. Sebs | MaximizingMarriage.com
    Jun 19, 2013 - 08:04 PM

    Wow! Honestly, this is an eye-opener for me. We manage a website that upholds the value of commitment in marriage. And commitment does start in parents training children to hold back on dating unless they are ready and serious about a life-long commitment.

    Reply
  15. WomanComeHome
    Jun 18, 2013 - 09:14 PM

    Excellent article. Most of your points and the replies by readers have, however, missed what should be the most effective alternative to dating for a young person–his family’s involvement. Parents should be inviting/allowing other young people and their respective families to hang out in their homes, circulating in the same circles as their children. Siblings also are invaluable resources in evaluating the character of friends and potential marriage partners. My husband and I have a weekly family council with our children to talk and pray about their friends and recent experiences, and keep communication going. We also loosely follow a courtship model by providing parental oversight and blessing to any relationships that our children are pursuing. So far it has served us well, with three of our five children married in moral purity. It isn’t all rosy and perfect, but it certainly has spared them and us a lot of heartache. I am reasonably confident none of them will divorce, if God gives them grace, because they are committed to lifelong marriage and have good spouses. We pray for them regularly. It’s the best we can do.

    Reply
  16. ADD
    Jun 18, 2013 - 03:27 PM

    I honestly think many of the comparisons drawn to “the good old days” are based on false perceptions of life in those days. First off, I fully support people doing everything they can to save their marriage. I don’t believe in a cut and run lifestyle. However, as bad as a divorce is going to be on a kid, being raised in a home with bitter, resentful and volatile parents is worse. Divorce isn’t ideal, but if a relationship becomes loveless and sour, it’s better than forcing your child to suffer through your problems. In those situations, at least one, if not both parents become more and more emotionally dependent on their child and saddle them with more baggage than they can handle at their age. And if anything, the way to find the person you don’t want to divorce is to date more and understand what you want in a relationship. That doesn’t mean you have to drop your pants for every guy/girl you go out for coffee with. Yes, you should be selfless in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing your emotional well being for someone you’re just kind of attracted to. Dating and breaking up isn’t divorce training, it’s coming to understand yourself and the dynamics of romantic relationships. As for the “high school relationships are only about sex” thing, that’s also false. I’ve known people, both older than me and my age, who started dating someone in highschool that they stuck with for a long time, in some cases even married. I’m not saying that all high-school sweethearts are going to become super serious, but there are a few. Dating is a way of understanding both the opposite sex and the dynamics of society. Do I think that 14 or 15 year olds should be having sex? No. But they shouldn’t just shrug off their romantic desires either. If they want to be close to someone, they should go ahead and do that, they just need to be smart and the parents need to both be watchful and actually talk to their kids about what is appropriate. Parenting smartly isn’t about locking your kids in a sheltered world until they’re 18 and then kicking them out, it’s about teaching them.

    Reply
    • Kourtney
      Jun 27, 2013 - 11:58 AM

      As I respect your opinions and wise input, I don’t think some of the points you are making are what she was saying.
      I agree that if there is bitterness and a sour relationship that the child would not benefit from that however that is the whole point. Those bitter couples are probably the ones who married off based on looks or shallow feelings without truly getting to know them first. If people would wait patiently instead of letting their emotions control them, I’m sure it would be better but a large percentage of teenage boys who go to jail and sell themselves to gangs don’t have a father and studies show they just wanted someone. Now this isn’t a fact, that’s just my opinion. However, from the many MANY married people I’ve talked to, they waited a while before they got married, and in my personal life, my parents had bitterness and pain but they also had forgiveness and that made their love deeper. A much stronger foundation then never discussing issues. Now, in my own marriage I have an idea on how to humble myself and forgive rather than look at what annoys me about them and holding bitterness immaturely.
      Also, I know The “good old days” are exaggerated, as are romance novels and movies, however there are many cases of the typical photo of a couple being married 60+ years and when people ask they say “We were born in a time where if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away” and I think that was her point.
      As for the sex, in just a few years the popularity and ages have changed. For instance, the “brown bag” used to be available for 15 year olds, then 13, now its 11 and a huge percentage of 11 year olds are sexually active because society says well if 18, then 17, if 17 then 16, and so on, it kept going younger and younger to the point of 11 year olds being mothers and fathers when they aren’t even developed yet. I think her point in saying that is 14 and 15 year olds aren’t mature yet, they may have maturity in some stances but they aren’t fully grasping what sex is. 14 and 15 year olds only know romance from movies that have false portrayals and all of the pop music lyrics like

      “Now listen to me baby
      Before I love and leave you
      They call me heart breaker
      I don’t wanna deceive you

      If you fall for me
      I’m not easy to please
      I’m might tear you apart
      Told you from the start, baby, from the start

      I’m only gonna break break your break break your heart”

      THAT is where they learn love, and sex. I agree with not sheltering your kids, but if you raise them right, they will know going around and flaunting there bodies and not protecting their dignity and having sex at an age where its not seen as beautiful and precious, it’s just to see who can lie about having sex with every girl in the school.

      When I was in high school and middle school, almost all they talked about was sex. Times have changed, in good ways and bad and whether we see these things as negative or just how life is I think she made very wise points.

      Reply
  17. Rags
    Jun 18, 2013 - 12:51 PM

    When the focus of raising children shifted away from raising children of character to viable adulthood and towards the constant persuit of instant gratification we began to lose our children.

    Now we are on to the next phase of this tragedy which is losing our rights and our country.

    Reply
  18. CS Willson
    Jun 14, 2013 - 02:56 PM

    I have to wonder if we have created an intellectual paradigm which mandates that men and women mature at the same rate and should, and must, be held as equals based on their date of birth.

    Historically a man took a wife when he could provide for a family (the poor will always be among us, don’t go there), and a family was anxious to get a fertile female out of the house. You can say that was economic, but it was so persistent for so many millennia you surely must think it might just possibly be a norm of the species.

    Girls and young women are drawn to babies. My youngest could care for an infant when she was seven. We didn’t teach her that, she just knew it. At twenty she has a State certificate to run a day care. She has an IQ of 65.

    My grandmothers were both married to men much their senior, twenty years in the case of my paternal g’mother, almost that much for my maternal.

    It’s only in the Northern Hemisphere of the Americas and Western Europe where you find the idea that women should be in their second decade and their mate should be nearly the same age. The rest of the world marries – or mates – to a different timetable.

    If you ask my solution to my, perhaps unique, point of view, I don’t have one. But, if you don’t ask the right question there’s no way to get the right answer.

    I, a man, married young, and it was a big mistake. My second marriage (I said the first was a big mistake) is to a woman much younger. I do not dominate her by any means, but intellectually we are equals.

    I’m just sayin’.

    Reply
    • Kelley
      Jun 18, 2013 - 04:00 PM

      Your comment shows great wisdom – and some historical research. I really think you hit the nail on the head. Just look at all the marriages in the Bible! Isaac was 40, Rebekah 20 or less (we don’t know) when they married. Jacob was at least 60, Rachel who knows (30 or less) when they married. Same with Leah. Joseph was probably 20-30, Mary 15, when they married. The list goes on. Men and women do not come to maturity, physical or emotional, at the same rate. Western dating/marriage culture is also unlike other countries, both then and now. The problem here is the legal age to marry (18). Do I want it younger? No. At the same time, we’ve made babies out of teens. They don’t become marriage material re: maturity until they’re 25…

      Reply
  19. Brandie
    Jun 14, 2013 - 12:13 AM

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!! We have been teaching this with our own children and this concept is so foreign to far too many. Wonderfully written!

    Reply
  20. Julie
    Jun 12, 2013 - 02:16 PM

    I have to say I agree wholeheartedly to the atrocity of watching 10 – 13 year olds who have “relationships” and “date”. BUT I have to disagree with the idea that someone underage should not date. I was one of those “picky” teenagers and would not accept an invitation to a dance if I wasn’t interested in a guy, for fear of leading him on. I had a couple of boyfriends, but all that entailed was holding hands in the hall, phone calls and a date to a dance or 2. Because I was so picky and stated, “I’m not interested in dating around, I just want to wait for the ONE, I did just that, waited for a man to sweep me off my feet. I unfortunately met a guy who swept me off my feet at 17. Because I had pretty much zero dating experience I didn’t know what to expect from a relationship and all the subtle signs that I was involved with an abusive man fell on deaf ears as he convinced me all my worries and concerns were because of over controlling parents. The mind set of if you’re truly in love you’ll put in the work to make a relationship work just made me sink further into the abusiveness of this man as he used all my biblical beliefs to guilt me into staying, even when I began to see and feel that something was wrong. If I hadn’t been so serious and gone into dating as if each date/relationship was a “potential marriage” then I may have been able to see it as a way to find out what and who I am within a relationship and I may have been able to get out before I married and had children with this man. The HUGE DANGER of teaching children not to be selfish in a relationship when you’re not getting what you want is that they may hear that asking for what you want or need in a relationship is selfish and that their feelings don’t matter. We need to be very careful when discussing self serving attitudes within a relationship and make sure we teach our children the signs of not just physical abuse, but verbal and emotional…because EVERY physically abusive relationship starts off with verbal and emotional abuse, but not every abusive relationship is physical or becomes physical. And that requiring to be treated with dignity and respect IS NOT SELFISH. Believe me…I’m not encouraging my children to date at a young age, but I’m not discouraging them from going out on a date or two with numerous people before they find themselves in a serious relationship.

    Reply
    • Erika
      Jun 19, 2013 - 07:20 AM

      Conservative Christians treat dating as though it can ONLY be a precursor for marriage, that you have to consider that you might end up marrying the person you date at 16 and whether or not they are marriage material before you even date them, that you shouldn’t take dating casually, and this may be why dating trains kids for divorce or ignorant submission in marriage. But I think it may be better if dating was not viewed that seriously – if instead dating were viewed as a way to grow and learn about how girls and boys interact and what you can expect from an average/normal boy or girl, and you get to know a wide variety of different girls or boys, and teenagers are not taught to model the intensity of adult relationships with their teen relationships but rather to “date around” (not SLEEP around, just date around, not getting serious or exclusive with a single boyfriend or girlfriend – it is the more serious dating relationships that are likely to involve sex among teens, because the expectation enters after a certain number of dates). Kids become so serious so young about relationships. The expectation that when you go out with someone a couple of times you should then become intense and exclusive is relatively modern. A couple of generations ago, wasn’t it more common to date multiple people in high school? I think it is the exclusivity and intensity of under age dating, not so much the dating itself, that trains for divorce, so that instead of just having fun and going to the dance with a guy and dancing with a few guys, and maybe going to the next dance with a different guy, you have a mini-marriage and a mini-divorce. But it is conservative Christians who trains their kids to look at dating as a kind of betrothal in the first place.

      Reply
  21. Kat
    Jun 05, 2013 - 05:29 PM

    My parents never encouraged me to date when I was young, but they didn’t discourage me either. Not explicitly. What they did instead was “lead by example”. They told me about their dating and relationship history and what had happened with that. Also, they, and my church taught me that “what you practice as a child, you perform as an adult”. That was the most powerful lesson I could have learned. It made me realize that the free and easy dating practices of even my middle school friends what not what I wanted to participate in. At 23, single, and only now just starting to look for a potential husband, I am incredibly grateful for that lesson.
    We cannot put all the blame on parents, out of the many teachers and ministers I had in church growing up, there were only a few who taught that powerful message and applied it to more than just the normal “bible study and personal habits” lessons.

    Reply
  22. Linda-lu
    May 29, 2013 - 11:42 PM

    I so fit the bill for immaturity–as soon as some guy liked me that I liked, I lost interest (I hated myself so didn’t find anyone who liked me of interest). I didn’t date until in early 20’s, then dated foolishly (whoever asked me out for dinner, movies, etc.) and selfishly; as a Christian I was still a mess emotionally due to deformity and bitter thoughts. Married at age 27, divorced 14 years later from abusive and unfaithful husband. Now I realize what marriage is all about after the fact and am very protective of the marriage bond of others even though I don’t have a husband and dated only a little after the divorce, and then not at all. My parent’s era was dating in groups–getting together for fun events, no serious dating as couples. Mom, age 15, met Dad, age 20 (in college, but shy and committed to his goal of pro boxing); they saw each other on some weekends, wrote lots of letters to each other. Married 64 years. That generation was the last of the innocents in a sense; my generation had Marilyn, Elvis and soon after Beatles and emphasis on sex in speech, clothes, lifestyle. I wore and still wear conservative clothes compared to the short shorts and plunging necklines worn by some women in church–shocking to me to see but no wonder girls are engaged in pursuit of physical attention to lead up to coupling. The cavalier attitude of some is heart breaking as it indicates the lack of spiritual beauty in seeking God’s perfect will of beauty and sexual purity from His perspective, not from the world’s system and standards.

    Reply
    • Jan
      Jun 02, 2013 - 10:28 PM

      I so agree with and appreciate your last sentence! Thanks for being so articulate.

      Reply
  23. Dannaley
    May 12, 2013 - 06:33 PM

    I realize that my case is unusual, but it still happens. I started dating my husband when I was 15 years old and he was 18 (freshman and senior), we’ve now been together for almost 8 years and married for three and a half. We also have one beautiful little boy. We are both employed full time and I am graduating from college with a degree in Biology in two semesters. We did not have sex while I was in high school. Not all people who date in high school have sex, even when there is an age difference. I think that it really depends on the maturity of those who are dating when it comes to dating in high school. Some are ready and some aren’t. My husbands parents are divorced and they started dating when his father was in Seminary to be a Lutheran minister. Although I agree that some people aren’t mature enough to date in high school (and certainly not middle school), however not every case is the same.

    Reply
  24. Tim
    May 11, 2013 - 10:37 AM

    Here is what my fourteenn year old sent to her freind who was pressuring her to get a boyfriend:
    All dating is leading up to marriage, it’s preparation for marriage. If I’m not ready to be married then I’m not ready to date. Dating and breaking up is just practicing for divorce. It’s showing you in a relationship that if you hit a problem you just break up. and it’s treaching you that you can do that with marriagge, and why should I date someone and have false feelings and end up getting hurt over nothing?
    She’s got it right and so do you!

    Reply
    • Velvet Baker
      Jun 12, 2013 - 09:38 PM

      That is so awesome! My daughter who is soon to be 15, (mature beyond her years everyone thinks she is 17) thinks and feels the exact same way as your daughter. She is friends with a few guys that she tries to get to know and works on making close friends to consider what she wants in a mate when she is ready to date. We have taught her you don’t date just for fun because it isn’t a game. As she becomes better friends with guys she can compare and see what she likes and dislikes in guys so she knows what she wants to find in a husband when that time comes. Her and her brother who is two years older than her do things together in groups with both male and female high school and early college age kids making close friends and lifelong friendships not worrying about dating so when the time comes she will be looking for a husband not just guys to have fun with. Besides in group setting when everyone is focused on being friends the true person seems to come out a lot easier than when one is dating and trying to impress each other.

      Reply
  25. Robert
    May 10, 2013 - 05:02 PM

    I think it’s somewhat absurd to say that teen relationships are all about sex. Maybe the high school ones, but then again high school is a time to explore sexual boundaries and such… at least in my opinion. Middle schoolers and elementary aged children are only following what older people are doing, just as two children would play house. There’s nothing wrong with “underage dating”, it’s a time where teens can actually get to know each other without the stresses of bills and real life… they are gaining skills and learning how to communicate with prospective partners (and by that I mean any prospective boy:boy, girl:girl, boy:girl), because this is the time in young people’s lives when they being having strong sexual feelings… it’s natural. You can’t change nature.

    Reply
    • Stadot
      May 11, 2013 - 12:22 AM

      Um…NO. As a recent graduate of public schooling, I can tell you that it is NOT those girls who have early romantic relationships who are best capable of interacting with those of the opposite sex. Those girls are often shallow, depressed or frustrated by the state of their relationships, and have more interest in fashion than academia. They also cannot talk to a boy without flirting or fighting. The ones who I’ve seen are best adjusted to real society are those who, like me, have independent passions and are able to share these in a non-romantic, asexual manner. Like my friend B on the FIRST Robotics team (now studying mechanical engineering and in a steady, long-term, long-distance relationship with one of the sweetest guys from our high school). Or my other friend E who actually had a number of dating fiascoes during high school, but stuck to her dance, family, and God as being more important. She just celebrated her first anniversary married to a wonderful guy who’s like an older brother to mine. Or myself. I’m beginning to find I might just have the strength it takes to be single my entire life and yet I’ve always been known to have male friends. We often bond over tomboyish subjects, such as Star Wars, burning/exploding stuff, detective novels, or the impossibility of understanding why so many girls spend so much time/money on make up and clothes.

      Reply

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