Many of our readers here at Project Inspired are still living at home with their parents. Living at home comes with its challenges; whether you have godly, awesome parents or parents who don’t follow the Lord, you are going to butt heads in your relationship with them from time to time. One issue that frequently causes conflict is at what age children are allowed to date. Every parent has a different view on this, and thus a different approach to parenting the teenage (and even college) years.
Perhaps your parents have decided you aren’t allowed to date—or at least not until you’re a certain age. It can be tough to navigate this as a believer because you’re called to honor your parents (Ephesians 6:2). But you’re also becoming an adult, and particularly if you’re older than eighteen, you ARE an adult. How do you respond to your parents’ dating rules, especially when you’re entering adulthood?
Following are four things to consider regarding this issue.
1. Discuss your parents’ reasons.
Most parents create rules for their children out of love—at least initially. Sometimes that love gets mixed up with a good deal of fear, and while fear-based parenting is not God’s will, it will help you show compassion and patience toward your parents when discussing dating standards with them. Remember that they love you. Remember that they don’t want you to be hurt.
But as a young person becoming an adult, you need to be able to discuss these things with your parents. It’s important to do this face-to-face with as little emotion as possible. If you get frantic or angry, your parents are less likely to hear your side. If you need to, write out your thoughts in letter form and read them to your parents—or give them the letter. If you want to date sooner, or date at all, write out some solid reasons why and present them to your parents.
2. Consider your motives.
As you’re thinking through your reasons for differing from your parents about dating, consider your motive. Are you just picking a fight with your parents because you want to be “different”? Are you angry with them because you want to fit in with your friends? Are you eager to date a specific boy and their rules are getting in your way?
These are not godly motives. God has called you to honor your parents. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a different opinion or you can’t disagree, but it does mean that your disagreement should be respectful and well-thought-out.
It’s worth noting that any guy who really admires you will respect your parents and wait to date you until the time is right. If he won’t wait, he’s not worth your time anyway.
3. Look to the Word of God.
As you’re compiling your reasons for dating, look to God’s Word. Ask God to refine your heart’s motives and show you scriptural guidance on this issue. This will help you write reasons that resonate with your faith and with your parents, especially if they are Christians. Be open to whatever God tells you in His Word. Sometimes He tells us things we don’t want to hear, but by obeying Him, we find a blessing in the long term.
4. Think about the consequences.
Lastly, think about the consequences of ignoring your parents or refusing to have this discussion in a godly way. It could damage the relationship for a very long time! In the end, waiting a few more years to date (especially if you are in high school) can be very beneficial—not just to your life, but also to your relationship with your parents.
Ask God for wisdom. Check your heart’s motives. Don’t make decisions out of urgency, or the idea that the only good guy is the one in front of you right now. But also don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and reasons with your parents. Act like an adult, and they may treat you more like one. But even if they don’t, entrust your situation to God and let Him strengthen you for whatever the answer may be.