Monday, August 31, 2015

Raising Boys to Date Girls in an #AshleyMadison World

I have two.
One in high school and one in kindergarten.

Ever since my high schooler was a kindergartner, we've had literally hundreds of conversations about girls. More specifically, girlfriends. Alex and I had our first serious talk about girlfriends when he was four years old. He has always liked girls. He never thought they had cooties and he was never embarrassed to play with them at recess.

When Alex was younger, one of my biggest pet peeves was hearing grown adults ask him, "do you have a girlfriend?" Most people think it's cute when little boys say they have a girlfriend. Or five girlfriends. But it has always irritated me.

I never let him answer that question. I always answered for him and my answer was always the same… "Alex isn't allowed to have a girlfriend. Relationships are very, very serious and his goal right now is to learn to be friends with girls and to learn to show them respect. But, one day." Even though I was saying it to the adult, I was saying it for the benefit of Alex. I wanted him to hear me say repeatedly that relationships were super important and the way we treat girls mattered.

You see, I am not at all against Alex having a girlfriend. But I am against leaving really important decisions like relationships between boys and girls for Alex to figure out by himself. I am against allowing him to ever think that having more than one girlfriend at a time is cute. I am against allowing him to feel like his identity is somehow wrapped up in if he has a girlfriend or not.

In our home, we have very open conversations. We always have. And after working with teenagers for the last 20+ years, I am shocked at how few parents talk to their kids about relationships, dating, purity, sex and marriage. Middle schoolers who still have to be reminded to use soap in the shower are often left to navigate boy/girl relationships with very little guidance from their parents. Does that seem weird to anyone but me?

Photo: Getty Images

I don't think there's a magic dating age.
I think it's different for every young person.

For Alex, we've told him that there are a couple of things we are watching for...

#1  We want to see him to actively pursuing a relationship with Jesus before he actively pursues the heart of a young lady. God made him for a specific purpose and if he is not careful, he will start worrying more about what his girlfriend wants/needs for him to be and forget all about who God is molding him to be.

#2  We want him to understand that for this season, his goal is to learn to be a protector of girls' hearts. He is to stand up for girls, not allow other boys to talk rude or inappropriate to them or around them, make sure he is being thoughtful of girls' emotions, and learn how to be good friends with a girl he likes.

When Alex decides he is ready to turn a friendship into a relationship, he can only do that after meeting with the young lady's Dad and/or Mom. *I realize right about now you are thanking God we are not your parents. Ha!* Our goal is not to be mean, I promise. Our goal is for Alex to use his brain and not act on his emotions. God has placed people in authority over this young girl's life and it is not a hormonal 16 year old boy. It is person, or people, who will stand before God one day and answer for they way they raised her. Alex needs to have a conversation with those people. He needs to look them in the eyes, tell them his intentions and commit to partnering with them to protect their daughter. If she is not the one he will end up marrying, she should be better off having Alex in her life for that season.

I'm not raising a 16 year old boy.
I am raising a man who will one day be the spiritual leader of his family.

A future husband.

A future daddy.
A world-changer.

My goal is not to teach Alex how to date, my goal is that Alex has a clear picture of what marriage is suppose to be. Dating is important because marriage is hard…and it's forever.

As I look back over the last 16 years, I am amazed at how God has protected Alex's heart and mind because we were willing to speak truth and bring to light all the hard topics. Satan is not going to wait until you are ready and feel comfortable talking about sex. In fact, he wants to fool you into thinking that keeping your kids in the dark will protect them. Well, he is a liar! Having many, many age-appropriate conversations that speak truth without shame protect your children on a deep, Spiritual level. It is time!

Their school is talking about it.

Their friends are talking about it.
The world is talking about it.
And the Bible has a lot to say about it.

It's time for every Jesus-loving family to understand the importance of talking to their children about sex and healthy sexuality. To talk about purity and dating.

Even if you didn't do it right.

Even if you messed up.

The truth of God's word gives life and hope. God has a way of redeeming our past and our mistakes and turning it into something beautiful. You can trust Him!   

"I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never live in darkness.
They will have the light that gives life."
{John 8:12}

Don't know where to start? The book, The Talks, is an amazing resource written by our dear friends, Barrett and Jenifer Johnson, and is a must have for every home. Also, Navigating a Hyper-Sexualized Culture and The Talk(s) are just two of many blog posts on their website that will encourage, equip, and challenge your most important relationships.


  1. Love this. I have gotten strange looks for having similar conversations with my 5 year old daughter. Last year I cut off her friendship with a boy that she'd played with since she was 1. I watched how his daddy treated his mama, and when she asked why she couldn't play with her friend anymore, I told her the truth, I didn't like the way his daddy was teaching his son to treat women.

  2. I find this very refreshing. I never head anyone else say this about raising a child other than myself. I have four daughters. I have always told them the same things you have said here. My oldest is in college, and I have a junior a freshman and a 7th grader student.
    I'm glad to hear that there are parents out there raising their sons right.

    I hope my girls will one day find a family like yours...who love GOD with everything in their being, who have raised their son to love GOD the same way and to be a good husband, just as I'm raising my girls to be good Godly wives. God Bless.

  3. This is exactly what we have taught our children. We have a boy and a girl. Right now, our son is 15. He has stood up for girls in the locker room when they are being bashed. He has intervened when a girl is being treated with disrespect. We watch Internet access carefully in our home, and we talk about sex and relationships, ALL THE TIME. It is an absolute necessity in today's world. Thank you for writing this article. It is so well stated.

  4. Excellent post! My wife and I are raising 4 boys and resonated with all you shared. Thanks for the wisdom and practical suggestions!

  5. yes!!! I have been teaching my son (7) all these things. I often have to tell him that what he sees from Papa isn't the correct way to treat women or people for that matter. I am a single mom and living with my parents - I adopted my son at birth.

    I explain the bad behavior and bring it down to his level - then say how would you like it if you were treated this way or imagine being a dad and someone treated your daughter this way.

    Now he will go to Papa and say, I don't like how you talked to Grandma (or about Grandma) or to my mom. How would you like someone else to talk to your daughter that way? Yet he is quick to correct Grandma when she is talking about Papa in a negative way.

    He helps younger and older children in the playrooms, esp those who are disabled. First is teaching a child to respect all life, to stand up to those who are hurting another human, esp one that is weaker (that is a bully). Lastly, to be friendly to others and willing to help (within limits - don't help a stranger to find his lost puppy) We have done role play in this and watched a few videos.

  6. Thank you for this post! Do you have any other books you would recommend for younger boys? Mine are 2 and almost 1.

    1. There are 2 different book series that are great for kids starting at age 3. The 'Learning About Sex' series starts with a book titled 'Why Boys & Girls Are Different' and it is girl/boy specific. The 'God's Design for Sex' series starts with a book titled 'The Story of Me'. Both series use age appropriate language and illustrations. The idea is to introduce a new book every couple of years as they grow.


      GOD'S DESIGN FOR SEX series