When teenagers begin undergoing hormonal changes they become increasingly aware of the opposite gender. Most have had almost no prior training in how to handle themselves when these emotions start firing – and our culture is certainly not preparing them well for this transition.
Most teens simply have no idea what is appropriate and what isn’t in relating to persons their age who are of the opposite gender. Their peers and the media are not going to steer them in the right direction; it is up to you as the parents to prepare them properly.
Four points need to be trained into your young ones before this shift takes place.
Waiting is worth it. If you pluck an apple too early, what happens? If you use adhesive tape on too many pieces of paper before gluing the final job, will your glue have lost its stickiness? If you give little pieces of your heart to too many people, will there be any left for your soul mate? (Draw a paper heart and then start tearing the pieces off and throwing them away.)
What are appropriate MARRIED behaviors? Do you ever see Dad taking the hand of another man’s wife to hold it for a half an hour, or calling her babe or cute? No, because she is someone else’s wife. Well, just because you can’t see a young girl/boy’s mate now, they will have one someday and it probably won’t be you, so you are messing with someone else’s wife or husband. The Scriptures themselves clearly teach this, that you actually defraud a brother by engaging in flirting and inappropriate behaviors. 1 Thessalonians 4:6: “In this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.” Have your adolescent memorize the entire passage on personal self-control: 1 Thess. 4:3-8.
Give them a thorough understanding of lifetime self-control over all passions. You will have to control yourself after you are married, too. Not just every woman will be your wife or every man a girl’s husband. We never enter a period of life where anything goes, anywhere, all the time. One has to exercise self-control over one’s oaths, conversations, money, personal hygiene, one’s physical appetites, stomach appetites (nobody can just eat continually), and how much one drinks. All of life is governed by parameters. The righteous have a high road prepared for them if they will exercise caution and godliness in all of their conduct; this will set them up to reap blessings forever and ever.
- Teach them that to ultimately become a good husband or a good wife one must diligently use this present period of longing…for preparation. This includes building one’s skills and establishing a financial foundation, so as to reduce stress when they do get married. Young men can work toward building their first home debt-free (our booklet of Sure Financial Steps for Beginners has a section addressing this issue), young ladies can improve their cooking and hospitality skills, growing in their ability to deliver a decent meal and gaining as much sewing skill as possible. During this special period of longing and hormonal surge, work at becoming a marital prize rather than seeking one. Disciple them about praying for a mate, rather than trying to flirt for one. Teach them that establishing godly homes by beginning with the choice of a mate is a sacred honor, not a cheap passing thrill.
Let them not enter this vital period of their lives—which can have huge consequences for the remainder of their lives—mentally unprepared. Keep your children’s training in mind, through all of its phases, with all diligence. Each stage has its own tests…and its own victories to be fought and won…by the parents and by their emerging adolescents alike.
For a lot more help on this topic, we recommend these booklets:
Item #38A Godly Daughter Checklist (a pre-marriage or graduation checklist for young women):
Item #38B: Godly Son Checklist (a crash course of Godly Man Boot Camp)
Item #70: Waiting for Mr. Right