I’ve been trying to eat “cleaner” foods and find foods that are “good for me”. “Clean” dating is a similar idea…finding good guys to date and having good, clean, fun, healthy experiences together (as well as awkward ones). These experiences will help your teens learn and develop. My daughter just turned 16 and in our house turning 16 means you can start dating! I think I am more excited than she is. Since I was so boy crazy growing up, I love being a part of this with them.
Why should they date? I believe that dating has many purposes. When you are younger, you are learning a lot about yourself and how to interact with others (especially the opposite sex). Dating helps us discover who you are, what you stand for, and helps you find qualities you enjoy in others. I am very grateful now that I had so many opportunities to date in high school and college. I learned a lot about who I am and it really helped me when it came time to find my spouse. Oh and one of the best parts is that dating can also be fun!
Show your kids what a good marriage looks like! Before dating even begins, your kids need to have some hope of a future, successful relationship. Be that example for your kids of what an excellent marriage looks like. Show them the good parts of marriage. It is okay for them to see you show expressions of love in hugs, kisses, and laughter. I’ve always loved the thought of happily ever after. Relationships can last forever. If you take the right steps, you can have happy, fulfilling relationships in this life and in the next. Have fun together with your spouse and show your kids that marriage can be truly rewarding!
Teach them dating skills before they date. There are a few things you should do with your kids before they start dating. You should practice social skills, how to make conversation, how to behave appropriately, how to use good manners, and being a gentleman. Show them how to dress nicely for a date, to shower regularly and to look their best, and to smile and be nice even when you’re not having the best time. Give them getting to know you questions they could ask on a first date and practice those communication skills. Here is a cute mini dating school you can do with your kids.
Teach abstinence before marriage. Marriage is so important that we believe in 100% abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity afterwards. Wendy Watson Nelson explains it so well in a talk about the difference between marital intimacy and worldly sex. You can watch it here. There is so much peace, comfort, and joy in waiting until after marriage for sex. I have seen it in my life and I continue to see the peace in my kids’ lives as they follow this counsel.
Set family dating rules. We have several rules in our family about dating. These apply when they are 16-18 years old and still in high school. These rules help keep my kids on the right path leading to a beautiful, happy life. It is great if they can have experiences going out with a variety of boys. They need to practice social skills, develop friendships, and hopefully have good clean fun! I’ve learned through experience and through others that these rules will bring your children protection, happiness, peace, and fun.
- No dating before 16.
- No kissing, laying on top of each other, or touching our sacred, private parts of the body.
“Kissing has … degenerated to develop and express lust instead of affection, honor, and admiration. To kiss in casual dating is asking for trouble. What do kisses mean when given out like pretzels and robbed of sacredness?”
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985), The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball (1982), 281.
- Go on group dates only. A date could be any even number of girls and boys going together to an activity.
- Date only people with similar values, goals and high moral standards.
- No consecutive dating. This means that they have to date someone else before they can go out with that person again.
- Don’t become boyfriends or girlfriends. Just friends. Casually date, don’t pair off. There is a new trend that if you go on one date you are “officially dating”. This is so crazy!
- It’s okay if it’s a short date. There is this new trend at our high school where you go on a day-long date. (ie: Do an activity in the morning, go to lunch, come home and get a fancy dress on and fix your hair again, then go to another activity, dinner, and the dance, followed by dessert and games somewhere. That is so much time and money! It’s okay to just go to dinner or to simplify the activities. Besides what high school kid has that much money to spend?
- Put phones away. Practice those communication skills.
- Use good manners. Here is my post on teaching them manners.
- Be a gentleman or look for a gentleman. My daughter was so impressed with her date who wouldn’t let her pay for Sadies’ and opened the doors for her.
- Come home by curfew. For us, Saturday’s curfew is 11:30. I want their dates to be home before the Sabbath. My mom always said that “at midnight I would turn into a pumpkin and roll down the hill” or that “the Holy Ghost goes to bed at Midnight”. I can tell you that if you want to avoid trouble and temptation, don’t stay out late!
- Ask questions about their date. We need to know when, where, with whom, how long, etc.
- My kids also have a “secret word” that they can text us if they are in an uncomfortable situation and need us to provide a quick escape.
What type of dates should they plan? Plan dates that are safe, positive, active, inexpensive, and fun!
Here are just a few Dating Ideas:
- Go to a park to play.
- Go to the arcade $
- Play the Wii together.
- Go out to eat $
- Go hiking
- Play sports: basketball, volleyball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, golf raquetball, tennis, pickleball, horseshoes,
- Mini Golf $ (we tried mini croquet and it was a lot of fun.) or you could try mini golf with a soccer ball-also looks like a lot fun.
- Make a chalk art mural
- Escape room $, haunted houses or holiday themed events
- Plays $ (look for free plays or discounted concerts in your local cities)
- Clean Comedy $
- Go to the cemetery. Find someone with your same name.
- Have a picnic
- Amusement parks $
- Have a trivia night
- Play ping pong, darts, Foosball, or the Wii
- Play board games
- Nerf gun battle
- Laser tag outside. We have these guns and love them.
- Go to a museum or art gallery $
- Go for a hike
- Go to the Library
- Do a scavenger hunt at the mall
- Have an amazing race
- At Christmas time, go caroling, drive around and see lights, find a live nativity or gingerbread show…
- Scooter around the city
Dating changes once they get out of high school. Once they are ready to find a spouse, the rules change slightly. I loved this chart I found. 1-3 is the casual dating like we talked about above. Now that they are older, we are talking about steps 4-6.
Group dates are still preferred, but single dates are now okay. The focus is now on 4-6 on the chart. Look for fun things to do together still, but now you want to see this date in lots of lights…how do they act when they are stressed, with their families, with kids, at church, serving others-like doing dishes? Pick dates that will help you really get to know this person better. You want to discover what you really want in a spouse. Dating now becomes more selfish. You are looking for the best for you. Don’t lead a boy on if you don’t like him, move on or if you don’t have a lot in common. I’m a fan of line-ups as a way to get to know new people.
I have found that setting firm rules for dating is a great thing! Let your kids know ahead of time what your expectations are. Talk to them about why those rules are in place…for their happiness and safety. “Clean” dating is a great way for your teens to get to know others and have fun in a healthy way.