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Stephen A. Peterson
One area of parent-teen relationship that causes one of the greatest rift is that of dating. Many, if not most parents, are concerned about your well-being and the choices that you make. It is not a matter of not trusting you. Despite what you may believe or think, your parents are responsible for you until you are 18 years old or that which is stated in your state/provincial/national law for when you become an adult. Parents generally want you to enjoy life and have a great time. The key to gaining your parent’s trust is to be responsible, honest and have integrity. Being responsible means thinking about the consequences of your actions and avoiding those actions that will cause you trouble. Being honest with your parents is telling them where you are going and what you plan to do. Having integrity is following through with what you said you would do even when no one is there to watch what you are doing.
You can help eliminate a great of your parents’ concerns and worries by a “Dating Covenant” with your parents. The Dating Covenant is a well thought out plan that you draw up (write them down) then sit down and discuss it with your parents
1. State clearly how many times a week you think you should be allowed the privilege to date. Be reasonable considering your age.
2. State clearly what you feel are reasonable hours to date. That is, from what time to what time. Consider that weekday dating hours will be different from weekend hours.
3. State clearly what you will do if you go beyond the time limits set (A longer than usual movie, bad weather, car problem and so forth).
4. Whenever you go out dating, there are appropriate and inappropriate dating behaviors and activities. List what you consider behaviors and activities that are appropriate socially and morally and behaviors and activities that are inappropriate socially and morally.
Appropriate behaviors/activities Inappropriate behaviors/activities
5. State clearly your dating standards.
6. You will find parents are concerned about who you are dating. Have as part of your plan a time when your parents can meet the person you are dating.
7. Dating is considered one of the steps one takes towards trying to determine which person they might like to some day marry. Dr. James Dobson, Child Psychologist, identified 12 steps one takes from dating to marriage. Our parents may not be familiar with these steps so you should sit down with them, state, show and discuss the steps with them. They are:
Pre-marital sexual activity—
a. eye to body
b. eye to eye
c. voice to voice
d. hand to hand
e. arm to shoulder
f. arm to waist
g. mouth to mouth
h. hand to head
Marital sexual activity
a. hand to body
b. mouth to breast
c. hand to genital
d. genital to genital
You should indicate to your parents that you understand that you can make wise decisions regarding your sexual self.
8. Discuss with your parents what you would do if you were tempted just one time to become sexually involved while dating and going beyond your agreed upon limit. If you felt you were unable to control your behavior, you must state who you would seek or ask to hold you accountable for your behavior while dating. State and identify who that third party person would be.
9. State places where you will NOT go when you are dating.
10. Teens should understand that to date is not a right but a privilege granted by your parents. In other words, you must EARN the privilege to date and be responsible to yourself and your parents. State your responsibilities. Some areas of responsibilities to consider (school attendance, grades, completion of school work/home work and so forth), behavior towards parents, behavior towards others in authority over you, household work/chores and so forth).
NOTE TO TEENS
When you are satisfied with your “Dating Covenant” sit down with your parents and discuss each matter with them. Answer their questions honestly and with respect. Doing so will probably impress them with your level of maturity, honesty and willingness to discuss your dating plan with them. Talk frequently to your parents about your dates and dating partners in a friendly, sociable manner. Discuss any problems you may be having. Parents really do want to help you through your dating experience. What you want to do also is to relieve your parents of their anxiety and demonstrate to them that you are mature and can be a responsible young person. Go over your agreement at least once a year or as often as needed when changes occur. Be in control of yourself and your limits and you will find that you can have a great time dating. MAY GOD BE WITH YOU AND KEEP YOU IN HIS HANDS!
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