When my oldest turned sixteen, he wanted to get a group of youth together to go on a group date. However, this proved to be a near impossible task. The youth didn’t want to group date, they wanted to pair off as boyfriend and girlfriend. This really upset my son. He didn’t understand why his peers where doing something that was counseled against by our leaders. These weren’t rebellious, disobedient kids, these were good kids from good families.
We soon realized that there is quite a bit of confusion about “dating”. Everyone knows the “wait til you are sixteen” rule, but often, parents aren’t aware of the more detailed counsel regarding dating. I know I wasn't. We discussed dating and used resources like the For the Strength of the Youth booklet and talks from Youth Broadcasts with our son. We decided that we would follow the wise counsel from the Lord and that there would be no boyfriend/girlfriend relationship until he returned from his mission, at which point he would be more prepared for a marriage commitment.
Right around this time, I came across this book by marriage and family therapist, Janette G. Smith called Unsteady: What Every Parent Must Know About Teenage Romance. Ever since I read this book in 2008, I’ve wanted to shout it’s message from the mountain tops.
In the introduction, she says:
“[The truth I learned] was so obvious that it mystified me that adults had not been teaching this truth all along. We’d been telling our youth not to get too close physically, yet we were allowing, even encouraging them to get too close emotionally. We saw youth in serious, exclusive, emotionally intimate relationships, and we were upset when they got too physically intimate.
Physical intimacy is a natural, normal, and healthy result of emotional intimacy. Adults who “fall in love” desire to “make love.” In a survey conducted for her book Why We Love, Helen Fisher , a prominent anthropologist and research professor at Rutgers University, found that a substantial 73 percent of men and 65 percent of women daydreamed about having sex with their beloved. Teenagers who participate in exclusive, emotionally intimate relationships will fall in love, and then it truly is like stopping a moving freight train to ask them not to make love.”
As I read this book I thought - Wow, this makes so much sense, why hasn’t someone taught the “chastity” lesson like this before? I read quote upon quote about dating from our prophets and wondered why I had never heard these quotes before. Well, the truth is, if you’ve ever missed a General Conference talk, or youth broadcast, you’ve probably missed some important counsel that you need for yourself and your family. There are wonderful quotes that were given while my oldest was in diapers, and even before, when I wasn’t thinking about him dating at all. – And yet, the counsel was given.
Here are some quotes sited in the book. From “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth” Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign January 2001.
“It is better, my friends, to date a variety of companions until you are ready to marry. Have a wonderful time, but stay away from familiarity . . . Steady dating at an early age leads so often to tragedy. Studies have shown that the longer a boy and girl date each one another, the more likely they are to get into trouble.”
Here is another from Pres. Hinckley found in “Discourses of President Gordon B.Hinckley” 146.
“When you are young, do not get involved in steady dating. When you reach an age where you think of marriage , then is the time to become involved. But you boys, who are in high school don’t need this, and neither do the girls.
We receive letters, we constantly deal with people who, under the pressures of life, marry while very young. There is an old saying, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” How true that is.
Have a wonderful time with the young women. Do things together but do not get too serious too soon. You have missions ahead of you, and you cannot afford to compromise this great opportunity and responsibility.”
I’ll share just one more quote, from Pres. David O. McKay, “Youth of the Noble Birthright” pages 11-20.
“Here, young people, let me sound a note of warning against “going steady” too young. . .In the first place, young people are very susceptible - quick to “fall in love,” and being immature in judgment, may not distinguish between fascination or passion and true admiration or genuine love. . .
In the second place, “going steady” limits , if not excludes, girls and boys from having the opportunity of becoming acquainted with one another.”
The purpose of Unsteady: What Every Parent Must Know About Teenage Romance, as stated by the author, is to help parents keep their youth out of romantic relationships and to
- Avoid the temptation to have premarital sex (Notice here she doesn't’ say to withstand the temptation or to not give into the temptation, but to avoid it.)
- Develop the social and emotional skills that come only from having a variety of friends of the opposite sex. (Sometimes we need reminded, teenagers are children; they are still developing.)
- Avoid heartbreak. (What parent doesn’t want this?)
- Choose a more compatible marital partner. (This is indeed the biggest decision your child will make. With over 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce, give them every opportunity to choose well to begin with.)
This book in my opinion should be a must read for parents. It is full of quotes from general authorities and proven research. I truly believe that if parents around the world would read this book and teach this to their children, the next generation would be sexually pure and innocent by and large.
Among the topics discussed in the book:
- What’s wrong with steady dating
- Differences between exclusivity and commitment
- How parents and other adults inadvertently push teens into steady dating
- Teaching your teen that love is a choice
- Keeping relationships at the “friend” level
- Rescuing teens in steady dating relationships
and much more. . .
I have included the table of contents, to give you more of an overview of what you’ll find in the book. I purchased my book at www.desertbook.com, I imagine there are other places to purchase it, including the authors site here.
As a mom, I hope and plead with you to please guard your children. Somewhere in this world, mothers and fathers are raising the future spouses for my children and also for yours. The impact of a righteous and virtuous spouse on a marriage can be monumental. May we all have courage to follow the prophet.
You can see what Dana♥ and her crew are up to at Noggins & Nonsense.