What the parents of my generation seemingly don’t realize or weren’t prepared for is the fact that, at some point, dating structure and boundaries mostly went out the window. I’ve been through countless great books and programs about Christian dating/relationships that still operate under the assumption that teens date. In reality, dating has (d)evolved into a formless, nameless social scene. These otherwise great books and programs presume an order and a vocabulary that, in my experience, are more or less obsolete. As a result, parents and publishers are outdated before they open their mouths or type a word.
I’m told that knowledge is power, so my hope is that the next few posts will empower parents who might not realize how my generation rolls. My other intention is to encourage my peers to re-think “dating” as we know it, by taking an honest look at some of the dating cultures that we have survived.
I assume that most of my readers share my genes or at least know me personally, but for any outliers: I grew up in a friendly, middle class suburb, graduated from a Catholic high school in 2007, attended a very secular college, and transferred to a very Catholic university. I am 22 years old, and have always had close friends who have dated in every dating culture that I intend to describe. If this were a court, I’d be a witness. What I mean is that my perspective is that of a friend, not of a girlfriend (since my only direct dating experience took place in another country with a very different dating culture).
If you want the perspective of an experienced “dater,” I’m afraid you are reading the wrong blog. However, I encourage you to verify them with your son or daughter. If their culture doesn’t match up with mine, have them explain the differences! It would be a great way to deepen your understanding of their world.
Parents, your kids need you to be “in the loop.” They are probably more willing to talk about their dating culture than you realize, but they might not know how to talk to you about it. They might think that you won’t listen, or that you will react in an unloving way. I say this, not to tell you how to parent, but as a young daughter who has had to learn the benefit of discussing dating and sexuality with my parents and with other adults who share their values.
When it comes to teen “dating,” it’s kind of a mess out there. However, the mess can absolutely be navigated, especially if you know what your child faces, and how to dodge the traps that lie in wait to break his or her heart.
Please note: This blog is aimed more at teens, so if you think you know of a parent who would appreciate reading these posts, please send it to him/her. More importantly, this and the following "dating culture" posts are simply my own perspective; it is not Church teaching, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of anyone affiliated with me personally or professionally. Some restrictions apply. Batteries not included. Please see store for details.