Dating conversations may be intimidating to have with your teens. If you’ve ever felt unsure about what to say or how to bring up the conversation, know that there is no pressure for you to say the perfect thing! I’m not a parent, but I grew up in a household where I had many conversations about healthy dating and marriage relationships with my parents. The important factor that helped me enter into those conversations was knowing I had a safe space to be heard, ask questions, and ask for advice when I needed it.
Create spaces where you can talk about dating and marriage, even if it feels forced to make it happen! Ask your child questions about their views, hopes, and questions about marriage at the dinner table, in the car, or when you take them out to ice cream. After hearing their thoughts, take the time to discuss the boundaries your family has about dating (if you have any). Ask them if you can share the best pieces of wisdom you’ve learned about marriage. It’s also important to let them see healthy marriages as much as they hear about them. Intentionally hang around other couples who have a healthy, Christian marriage! Sometimes it helped me to learn from other marriages when I was “too cool” for my parents… It’s embarrassing but true!
What was also helpful for me as a teenager and college student was taking the pressure off of finding that ‘perfect person.’ I’ve heard of people who wrote out these long, detailed lists of what they were praying for in a spouse. Some found that person, but some did not. When I created those detailed lists, I found myself searching for perfection rather than an imperfect person who was a perfect match for me.
A mentor encouraged me to make a smaller list of non-negotiables that I was looking for in a spouse. I included being a Christ-follower as my unspoken #4 of the list (not in any particular order). Here is an example of the list I prayed for in a spouse when I was in college:
- A man who hears God speak to him.
- A man who loves and serves people really well and intentionally.
- A man who adores me.
It’s probably safe for me to assume that you are already praying for your child’s future spouse. I’d encourage you to let them know that occasionally throughout their life. I loved hearing how my parents were praying for me in middle and high school! That kind of support helped me know that I could go to my parents with questions, prayer requests, and dreams I had for my future marriage.
I am now happily married to an amazing man who leads me closer to Christ every day. It’s because of good conversations, healthy boundaries my family set for me, and prayer that led me here today. Don’t underestimate the power of your intentional conversations!