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Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t think any child is too young to start dating. They need, the connection, the intimacy, the companionship and significance that a dating relationship brings. You may think that your 12-year-old daughter or 9-year-old son is too young to be entrusted with that kind of “special relationship”, but you would be wrong. Take it from this mom! I have a PhD in parenting and while I’ll stand and hold your hand as they venture out into this frightening world of “dating”, you must know that they are, in fact, never too young to date.
Because, you see, I believe that that YOU should start dating your kids WAY BEFORE anyone else does.
Before any of their peers try to meet that need they have for connection and intimacy. Before anyone else tries to steal their companionship away from you or fulfill their craving for significance; YOUR child needs to feel all those emotions from the ones who brought them into this world. They need to feel special and understand their worth when their Mom or Dad takes the time to invest, one-on-one with them in a situation much like they will face when they do finally reach “dating age” (which, in case you were wondering, for my boys, is 35-years-old!).
As one who didn’t have a father who invested in my life as a child and a teenager, I struggled with “dating relationships” throughout life. I built up walls, or at times, gave in a little more than I should in order to find the sense of worth and significance that I lacked at home. So many of our kids struggle as I did. They didn’t have parents who PURSUED them. My husband and I have made it our mission to PURSUE our kids, with the same passion and determination as a young stud pursues the prom queen (but with A LOT better motives!).
This Valentine’s Day, you should have the same mentality. If YOU are not the ones pursuing your children, they will find someone else to find that connection with. Let them learn how to “date” because they’ve been shown what true intimacy is, ultimate fulfillment is, by watching the way you pour out the love of Jesus into their lives through your endless pursuit after their hearts for years. Here are ways that you can do this:
Schedule a “First Date” with your Son/Daughter: Ask them properly. Did you just assume the girl of your dreams would accompany you to the movies? NO. Find out their interests, what hobbies they enjoy, and ask them on a date centered around what is going to bring them joy.
Write Them “Love Notes”: Don’t laugh! You know you did it at one time! Everyone remembers writing those sweet little messages and leaving them where your love could find them. Do THIS for your child. They may think it’s cheesy to receive a text from Dad in the middle of the day at school that just says, “I’m praying you have an awesome day. I love you.” But I promise, they will feel special.
Prioritize Them Every Day: When you are pursuing someone special, you make time for them. You pencil in little moments to see them, call them, talk to them about their day. Try to prioritize at least 10 minutes of your day when you can give them undivided face-time. Stare into their eyes, memorize their expressions, make physical contact, be genuinely interested in what they have to say. This 10 minutes will mean more to them than anything you could ever buy them.
Speak their “love language”: If you’ve never read The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, you are doing yourself an injustice! Find it, read it, and learn how to speak the language of love that your child is most familiar with. Do they need more physical affection? Do they need more quality time? Do you need to learn to step out of your comfort zone and take up rock climbing or dodge ball or laser-tagging with them? We all know those people who start dating someone new and end up doing things that they said they would NEVER do! They weren’t a runner before, but now they run 5K’s with their sweetie. We roll our eyes, but this is the way it should be. Be creative! Find out what makes your child “tick” and run with it. Find common ground, something to share, and speak to them in the language that they hear loud and clear.
I hope your “lucky in love” this Valentine’s Day! Remember, your kids will grow up all too fast and be looking for the love of their lives. Point them to their “first love” by demonstrating how Jesus pursues our hearts. Sacrificially, madly, and passionately. DATE YOUR KIDS. And remember, whether they are toddlers or teenagers, they are never too young to start dating. . . . .Mom and Dad.
Do you have a regularly scheduled date night with your kids? If so, what is their favorite date spot?