Rathjen Family

Rathjen Family
Rathjen, Party of EIGHT

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How Young is to Young? Childhood Dating, Part 1

As my daughter turns into a "tween" dating has come up.  Yes, already.  Of course they don't actually "date," but they are "going out."  I am not too old to remember this phrase.  I am also not too old to remember what it means.  It is one of those things that has a meaning, but it is hard to put into words.  In my view nothing positive comes from it.  Recently some of my daughters peers have started "going out."  Harmless, right?  They are just kids!  Oh, they just like to say they have a boyfriend/girlfriend.  No biggie!  Don't be so sure.

"Going out," as best as I can describe means, we are boyfriend and girlfriend and in some cases we show affection.  We text more.  We are kind of awkward at first.  We dance together at the school dance.  We get jealous when we talk to or act flirty with someone else of the opposite sex.  That all seems harmless, and just part of growing up and learning to be in a relationship with the opposite sex.  However, studies show (and you could have used myself as an example) that "going out/dating" is not so harmless.  The problem is, once children (yes they are children at 11, 12, 13, 14, 15….) start showing affections to the opposite sex, things progress.  The normal progression goes a little like this:

1) Hand holding
2) Cuddling, maybe arms around one another
3) Kissing
4) Touching
5) More serious kissing
6) Sex

Remember, when we were kids, and probably still today, these steps I have listed were and are called bases.  Your friend would ask, "So what base did you guys go to?"  And awkwardly, you would answer, sometimes truthful, sometimes not.

So let's say kids start in 6th grade.  Many of the kids in my daughters class are in fact, in relationships.  So we will say, for the sake of our example, they take it slow.  In 6th grade, they are hand holding.  In 7th, they are comfortable with cuddling and kissing on occasion.  In 8th grade, the touching starts and possibly more intense kissing.  So by 9th grade, what do you suspect the little relationship experts are doing?  Now the question is not just if they are ready for the consequences such as possible pregnancy or STD, not to mention the heart ache when they break up because now they have held nothing back, they have become totally vulnerable and they are ashamed and extremely jealous of the next person their ex is now seeing/dating/going out with.  What about their souls?  What about their precious little souls?

As some of you know, I was that child.  I was pregnant at 15.  Yes, you read that right, FIFTEEN.  Am I proud of this?  No!  Do I have terrible memories associated with this?  Yes!  Did I overcome it?  Yes! Was the pregnancy the worse consequence of my actions?  NO.  Do you want to know what was the hardest thing to overcome?  It was the shame.  It was the fact that I disappointed my parents.  It was the fact that the whole town knew of my sin.  It was that I gave something to the babies father I could never reclaim.  It.was.awful.  So now you know why I am passionate about this topic.  Now you know why I will do whatever it takes to influence just one person, one family to avoid children going through what I went through.  You can not give me even one good reason, these babies should be in intimate relationships!  I have heard it the other side.  It goes like this…

It's harmless.
It's good for them to learn how to relate to the opposite sex.
I think they need to learn how to treat the opposite sex.
I feel my child has control.
You are not going to stop it.
It's natural.
We keep a close eye.
We want our child to be open with us, if we stop them, they will just hide it.

Do you know what is natural?  Children at this age playing, having fun, spending quality time with their families, getting educated, learning a skill, having overnights with friends, learning about a God that loves them so much, He died for them, He removes their sin, and He is ENOUGH.  He is enough to comfort them, hold them and guide them through this awkward time in their life.  Do you know how badly I wish I had known this?  Do you know how many years of pain and suffering I could have avoided had I known this?  I know this now, and I have been set free.  I am blessed.  My son, now 20 is an amazing person.  He is a beautiful gift.  Would I change it? No.  Was it easy? No.  Doable? Yes.  But not everyone has the happy ending I have.  I am so grateful I know my Savior now, but I did not then.  It's time for us to rise up, teach these children who they are, where they come from and help them to determine where they are going.  They have their entire life to be in a relationship!  They need to know now, what it means to be a child of God, a good citizen, a good person!

I plan on continuing on this topic...  If you are in the trenches, and this applies to you, I urge you to pray about it.  We can make a difference, the fight has not been lost, God is bigger.  He tells us in Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

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