With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, a conversation (or several) with our kids regarding relationships with the opposite gender are a wise thing for us to strike up…whether they’re just friends, dating or anywhere in between. Dudley gives us gentle, yet clear direction on a great way we can approach this.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
When you’re a teenager, conversations with the opposite gender can be, well, awkward. They bring up all kinds of weird feelings, stumbling thoughts, and insecurities. And, actually, that’s completely normal, especially if that person you’re trying to talk to is “special” to you in some way. As parents it’s difficult to know how to encourage our kids in this area. We say things like, “Just be your normal, wonderful self!” Our teens hear that as, “Just be as awkward as you always are!”
Fortunately, scripture does not leave us without help on this topic. While the Bible offers no specific instructions for teenagers–since in Bible times teens were considered legal adults–we can learn something of great value about how to engage in conversations that are healthy, appropriate and beneficial. Hebrews 13:1 says, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” We relate to God as our “Heavenly Father” which clearly indicates we’re all part of His spiritual family. The Bible describes God’s people as “brothers and sisters” 133 times. That means we should treat each other as siblings in the same family.
Now, not everyone speaks to his/her siblings with love and respect, but the point is that we should. God intends for our words to be kind, encouraging, insightful, uplifting, helpful, and beneficial. Speaking to our family members in this way proves we are part of God’s household. A brother wouldn’t make sexual jokes toward his sister. And a sister wouldn’t send pics or texts to flirt with her brother. It is exactly the same for how Christ-centered teens talk to other teens of the other gender.
Consider these goals:
- Be encouraging. Look for ways to build him/her up. Offer genuine complements for what he/she does that you admire.
- Be curious. Ask good questions to get to know that person. Find out about his/her faith. Ask about school, sports, hobbies, interests, family. And then listen well to the answers.
- Be careful. We all joke around. Be careful that your jokes are not hurtful. Don’t joke about a person’s appearance or embarrassing moments. And, if you find out that you’ve offended him/her, be quick to apologize.
Again, I know that school relationships can be challenging. Just remember that most adults are not seriously dating or getting married until later in their twenties. Teens still have lots of time to learn how to relate to each other. Viewing peers as brothers and sisters in Christ may be the best approach toward keeping conversations glorifying to the Lord.