10 Tips As Your Kids Begin to Date

Three stories, totally unrelated, are weighing heavy on my mind today.  They have to do with three people who are at totally different stages of life, yet, the theme is the same–heartbreak and misunderstood love.

I’m not sure I have any real answers on how these three individuals can overcome their feelings of desperation, yet I feel that we can all learn something from their situations as we parent our teens and tweens.

How can we help our kids make wise decisions about love?  How can we help them see truth about another person when passion is in play?

If you think about it, our kids have grown up with Disney and Fairy Tales.  We’ve indoctrinated them to believe all their dreams and magical thinking can come true.

But somewhere we need to teach them that dreams don’t always end in a happily ever after.  We need to plant some seeds of reality early on so that they learn to love with the logical part of their brain rather than just the emotional part.  I’m not saying that passion is not part of the love equation.  After all, it is the physical attraction that spices up a future marriage.  However, our kids need to know that passion and reality need to go hand-in-hand.

Several years ago I remember seeing a book called Love is a Choice:  The Definitive Book of Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Hemfelt, Minirth, and Meier.  I love the title.  Somehow I think we need to teach our kids that we don’t fall in love–we choose love.

As we talk to our kids about choosing love, there is a question that we need to teach our kids to ask themselves.  “Is this love relationship good for me?

I’ve been watching a few unhealthy relationships at close view lately–a woman who married because she was “in love” even though they didn’t see eye-to-eye in the dating phase of life; a young man who is in a rehab facility because his girlfriend got him hooked on drugs and rather than focusing on his recovery he can’t wait to see her again because he “loves” her; a young woman who walked into a relationship even though she was told by numerous people that the timing wasn’t right and continued to stay in the relationship too long because she was “in love”.

And they all have the same thing in common.  Love trumped logic.  People around them had warned them of the heartache coming, yet they chose to ignore it.

So what is some counsel we could give our kids before they start dating?  How can we help them look at love differently?  What are some elements that can keep them from getting too far into the “love” relationship before they are deeply wounded?

  1. Have a discussion with your kids early about traits for a potentially good spouse for them. In other words, help them dream with reality.  This is an opportunity to talk about character qualities, faith, our kid’s strengths and what would compliment those.  It also can be a heartfelt discussion about our kid’s deficiencies and what might be a “nice to have” in order to make your marriage more successful.  i.e.  If your kid spends all his allowance as soon as he gets it, he might need to marry someone who is more thoughtful in how they spend money.  Be sure the conversation isn’t too serious and includes lots of heartfelt laughter.
  2. Let your kids know early that all relationships are not perfect. When you are struggling with a friend, be open about relationships being messy at times.  Same is true with your marriage.  Kids don’t need to know the details, but they need to see firsthand that two people can’t always agree on everything.  Obviously, if they get in a relationship with someone who always agrees with them, it is a certain red flag that something is off.
  3. Talk about future spouses being part of the entire family. If the person doesn’t “fit in”, what does that potentially do to family relationships in the future?
  4. Keep the lines of communication open as your kids begin to date. Be a safe haven for them to talk about their struggles with their significant other.  Offer up ways for them to respond to the other person in a healthy manner.
  5. Make sure you get to know the other person. Invite both of them to join you to watch a movie, have a snack, or play some games.
  6. As you see the “flaws” in the other person, ask permission to speak truth.  Our kids need to hear about the unhealthiness in their relationships even if they choose not to listen.  The earlier we can help them see reality, the less heartache if the relationship ends.
  7. Let your teen know they can’t “fix” the other person.  Sometimes our teens “need to be needed”.  Talk about how that can lead to an unhealthy relationship.
  8. Encourage your kids to surround themselves with community so that others can speak truth into the relationship.  Having a group of friends provides a safety net when they or the other person choose to “call it quits”.
  9. Warn them up front that it is easier to breakup when they start seeing signs that their values don’t line up rather than stay in the relationship too long.
  10. Explain that physical attraction will always defy logic. 

And when the inevitable heartache does come, be there to listen and help them grieve.  Ask questions to help them see where the relationship started going downhill and why it was a good thing that it ended.  Encourage them to let go of the relationship with respect to themselves and the other person.  And know that they will need lots of hugs and encouragement along the way as they start realizing their dream was just a fantasy.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

“Let go…and Let God”,


Teaching Our Kids To Date With Respect

I’ve been talking with lots of moms who have kids in the dating phase of life.  And it is amazing the amount of emotional impact these relationships are having. Whether your kids are barely teenagers or are ready to move into their 20’s, the dating game has changed significantly over the past decade with the advent of smartphones, Facebook, and Snapchat.  What used to be said face-to-face can be tweeted, shared, deleted, or copy and pasted in a nanosecond.

And heartache goes viral instead of staying between two people.

A “he said”/”she said” becomes a drama played out among people who now have access to all the data and the intimate details.

And judgment is made, lines are drawn, and what should have been a difficult face-to-face exchange now becomes the gossip that can cause massive emotional trauma rather than just another heartbreak.

If you are in this stage of life with your kids, you’ve probably done more emotional intervention than you expected as your kids play the dating game.  And if you are not quite there yet, brace yourself for the inevitable and parent ahead with your kids so they know what the rules of dating should be in order to respect themselves and the other person.

So what kind of things could we teach our kids?  How do we help them learn to respect themselves along with the other person?  Based on the nitty-gritty coming from moms who have been open to sharing the things they’ve encountered with their kids, here are some talking points that might help your teens seeing dating from a different perspective.

  1. Dating comes with one of two outcomes–either marriage or heartbreak.  Expect a few heartbreaks.
  2. Chances are you are dating someone else’s spouse.  Treat the other person with the same respect as you would hope your future spouse is being treated.
  3. Remember that when you enter a dating relationship, you will most likely give the other person your heart, just as they are giving you their heart.  Hold onto that heart as if it is precious.  That way when/if you choose to take your heart back and return the other person’s heart to them, there is minimal emotional damage for both of you.
  4. Know that a broken relationship will result in some amount of heartache.  Grieve the loss rather than pretend it didn’t happen.  It is normal to feel hurt, anger, and sadness.  Just be sure to not take it out on the other person.
  5. Most of us have hopes and dreams of what romantic love looks like.  We have expectations of the other person.  Know that your significant other will not be able to meet all your expectations.
  6. Keep in mind that early in the relationship you will see perfection because you haven’t had time to see the other person’s flaws.  Date with your eyes open and be aware of the other person’s tendencies that don’t line up with your value system.  Also get perspective from your parents.
  7. Keep two sets of friends–the ones you’ve had as a single person and add the other person’s friends.  If you drop your friends to engage exclusively with the other person’s friends, the breakup will be even harder because you will have no one to lean on.
  8. Define the relationship early and set appropriate boundaries.  Your kids see acceptable boundaries based on what their friends are doing.  If your kids are in junior high, let them know that it is okay to be special boy/girl friends; however, you need to help them define the boundaries.  The same is true with late teen dating relationships. How much can they be on the phone together?  Curfew? Double dating vs. single dating? What about going on vacation with the other person’s family?  Can they be in your house alone?  What is acceptable touching/kissing?  What is appropriate for texting?  The earlier these are defined, the more you can “remind” them rather than fight about the issues.
  9. Talk about Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chat, and any other social media.  Kids need to understand do’s and don’ts that are appropriate for their age.  An “in a relationship” that is posted and then unfriended can be devastating for our kids as well as pictures that have been taken off social platforms.  Suddenly seeing that they have been replaced with another friend of the opposite sex can devastate them.   
  10. Encourage your kids to text only what they would feel comfortable with all their friends reading. Recently a mom told me that her daughter had texted an apology to a significant other about something she had said and done that was inappropriate.  Shortly afterwards, her daughter accidentally received a text from the boy where he had copied and pasted the apology with a note that was supposed to go to his friends.  She was horrified that he had been sending her texts to other people.  Suddenly everyone close to him knew her darkest secret.  
  11. Talk about sex and help your kids know where the boundaries are.  Have them talk about them up front with the other person before they get in the heat of the moment, i.e. “I’m saving sex until marriage” or “I want to be friends; holding hands is okay, kissing isn’t.”  Teach them things to say to the other person if the other teen is pushing boundaries.  “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.  I’m not sure I feel comfortable doing this given where we are in the relationship.  Why don’t we go for a walk and cool things down.”
  12. When the time comes for a breakup, help your teen to think through what they plan to say and also let them know that the breakup needs to be in person. You can’t give a person back their heart over a text or Face Time.  Encourage them to explain the reason for the breakup, i.e. “I think you are a cool person, but I’m not feeling anything romantic” or “I like you a lot, but my priority right now needs to be ___ and I don’t have time to pour in to this relationship.” They should also state what the next steps should be, i.e. “If you text me, I will not be returning the texts”, or “I won’t be sitting with you at the games anymore”, or “I don’t want you hanging out with my friends.”  Let your teen understand that this needs to be done with kindness and not hostility even if the other person is making a scene.  Be kind but firm.
  13. Encourage your teen to forgive, especially if it is the other person who is initiating the breakup.

Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses

In our teen’s life, they need to understand that the way they handle breakups does have impact on the other person in a huge way.  If they state their wishes, give reason for the breakup, and set boundaries for the future giving the other person their heart back with respect and dignity, chances are both kids can go into their next relationship in a healthy way.  Encourage your teens to treat the other person in the same manner they would like to be treated.  And encourage them to stand their ground and once the decision has been made that it is over–then they need to respect that and move on.

Helping our kids process a breakup can be a time of strengthening our relationship with our teens.  Our wisdom and perspective can help them grieve and move to the next phase of life if we are willing to engage in a respectful way.  Give them a hug and offer encouragement.  After all, they will be married all too soon.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Would you like to be in a better relationship with your kids where you can help them set boundaries in dating?  Would you like to deepen your relationship with God and your kids?  With All Due Respect isn’t just a book.  It’s deep thinking curriculum that will help you look at yourself as you parent.  It will give you insight as seen through the lens of moms who are farther ahead in the parenting arena.  Why not pick up your copy now or better yet, do it in a small group?

Don’t have a small group?  You can join our eCourse with women across the country that are learning how to connect on a deeper level.  There you will find support from your eCourse mentors as well as myself.  Hope to see you there.


Do Your Kids Skin Their Knees Enough?

I well remember when my kids were little.  They would skin their knee and I would kiss their boo boo, give them a hug, and help wipe their tears away.  These were tender moments of connection letting my child know that I would always be there for them when things hurt.  And then they’d go out to play again and I knew that sometime in the future, they’d be hurt again and the cycle would repeat itself.

And I’m wondering if we have lost sight of those tender moments after the skinned knee.

Do we interject ourselves into their lives so much that they can’t fall down?

Let me explain.

As my kids got older there was more at stake in letting go. With more freedom comes a responsibility that shifts to our kids.  And we make decisions on whether or not we will let them skin their knees.

We wonder:  Will they make the right choice?  Say the right thing?  Embarrass us?  Do something stupid that could jeopardize their future? 

Will the mistake they make be something we can’t fix with a band-aid?

And instead of sending them back out to play, we intervene so they don’t skin their knees again.  We worry about their grades, their achievements, their future and we don’t want them to hurt.  We want them to feel that they are as good or better than those around them.  We want them to be at the top.  But we forget that the struggles are what bring about emotional maturity.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “That which does not kill us, will make us stronger’.  And his statement has been proven true by brain research and the many situations where kids have survived against all odds.

And I’m wondering what we are so afraid of that we can’t let out kids fail.  Does it have something to do with us?

I’ve seen parents who are doing their kid’s homework, paying for never ending lessons and sports, trying to make sure that their kids can be the best they can be and intervening when they aren’t the one chosen.  We clean their rooms, do their chores, and give them whatever they want because we don’t want them to experience life struggles or we don’t want to take the time to have to help them pick up the pieces when they mess things up.

We don’t want our kids to experience painful experiences like we did as a child so we intervene rather than provide growing opportunities where our job should be to sit back and provide love and emotional support.

By the time these kids are adults, when something goes wrong, many young adults don’t know how to learn from their mistakes, pick themselves up, soothe themselves, or tell themselves that everything will be alright.  After all, that’s mom’s job.

Just the other day I heard a story that made me incredibly sad.  A mom was on vacation and kept getting calls from her 30-something daughter.  “Mom, you have to come home.  I need you.  I can’t do this without you.”

Like always, this mother came to the rescue.  What was supposed to be a two week vacation turned into a two day vacation.  She went home to help her daughter.  What this 30-something daughter wanted was for Mom to talk to her boss because she was about to be fired.

In essence, “Mom, get me out of this jam I’ve gotten myself into.”

And supermom puts on her red cape and soars in to do a rescue.

I hear stories of mothers who are going to their adult children’s houses to clean, bailing them out of financial situations, and letting them continue to live at home rather than booting them out of the nest.  I’ve talked to a host of parents who feel like they are being held hostage by their adult children who always seem to need something from them.

Oh my, what are we doing to ourselves all in the name of “helping” our children?

And my question is, “Have we let them skin their knees enough in the little things of life so that they can handle the bigger things as our kids get older?”

Think about lifting weights, or training for a marathon, or even trying to lose weight.  We wouldn’t go into the situation trying to lift the heaviest weights or go out and run over 26 miles the first day.  We wouldn’t try to change our diet restricting calories in a way that would set us up for failure.  

So why do we do this with our kids?

When we are working toward a goal, we work slowly seeing little successes so that we learn what works and what doesn’t.  We celebrate the achievement to spur us on to the next level.

We should be doing the same thing as we set the goal of raising emotionally mature adults.  When our kids skin their knee and struggle through life’s problems, it really hurts the first time.  But over time they can learn to shake it off as it happens over and over, knowing they’ll be able to overcome the feelings of inadequacy as we stand by and offer emotional support instead of doing things for them.

By seeing their success and failures, our kids build up resilience.  They find success.  They discover who they are and who God created them to be.

When our kids fail in the little things, we can be there to put on a band-aid of encouragement and dry their tears by listening, showing empathy, and helping them think through what they could have done differently to have a better outcome.  If we are there in the little things of life, then we should be able to fully launch them into adulthood rather than having to still be there to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.

Failure on a test or detention for not doing homework is much easier to work through than having to deal with the potential job loss as a 30-something.  By working through pain in little chucks, our kids will be more able to handle the bigger knocks of life.

When we are there to support our kids in the inevitable mistakes and failures of life, emotionally offering a tender moment of support just like when we kiss their boo boo and encourage them to go out and play again, our kids are easier to launch in a healthy way.  Not only that, but it bonds us.  By being there after our kids fall down, we get the awesome job of wiping their tears away and offering encouragement.

James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Dear Lord,

Help me to know when I’m doing too much for my kids.  Help me to see when I’m taking the reigns and doing for them when they should be doing for themselves.  Lord, I see my child’s potential when he doesn’t.  I want what is best for him and I also want him to succeed. 

Competition in life can be fierce at times and my natural tendency as a mother is to protect.  I want my child to soar to the top, but I need to remember that you have created him for purpose.  My job is to stay out of Your way and let him undergo the trials you have ordained for him.  I need to remember You are writing his story and it may be different than the one I desire. 

Please help me to let go so that my child will grow and mature in a healthy way.  Help me create an atmosphere in my home that when my child fails, I’m here to offer love, support, and guidance encouraging him to stand up and go back into the arena.

I fail so many times in parenting toward the goal set before me to launch in a healthy way.  Give me the ability to make hard choices and let my child skin their knees so that he will be useful to your purpose.  Help me release my child to you so that You receive glory from his life.

In the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

Dare you to take inventory and decide where you need to let go.  And ask God to help you be successful as you head toward the day of launch.

“Let go…and Let God”,

Do you ever wish you were more aware of the pitfalls you might be making in your parenting?  Do you wish you could talk openly with other women about parenting struggles without fear of judgment?  Many women do.  And that is why the book With All Due Respect was written.  It takes our fears and pitfalls and helps us think through what we really desire–deeper connection with our kids and successful launch.

Why not grab a copy today?  You could get a group of women together and go through it together as a group or join our on-line eCourse with women around the country.











Got Mom Guilt?

Just the other day a couple of us were laughing and shaking our heads “yes” as a mom shared that she was having detailed dreams of things that had happened with her kids for which she felt guilty.  She shared how she texted her college-age student one evening when she thought of something she had done–and apologized.

I love that she did that.

After all, hurts can take up residence in the heart of the person we’ve wronged and stay there a lifetime.  Apology can be a great way to ease the burden for the other person and for us.

As most of us have experienced, Mom guilt is a thing.  We’ve all gone down that path a few times when we’ve said or done something to our kids that we regret.  Or maybe it is something we wish we could do for our kid but we can’t.

Several years ago I heard a mom jokingly tell her kids, “In addition to saving up for college for you, maybe we need to start putting money away for the counseling you will need as adults with all the mistakes we’ve made in our parenting.”

I thought is was a great line and so true.

Humor aside, as moms we all know that we’ve made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes in our parenting. But do we need to feel the heavy guilt for what we’ve done?

As our small group of women continued to talk about mom guilt, a very wise woman said it best.  “I don’t feel guilty.  I just feel sad and have regrets.”

Think about that for a minute.  What’s the difference?  Guilt versus sadness and regret.

As I tried to wrap my brain around her comment, the wisdom of what this woman was saying spoke volumes.

Guilt implies that you knew what you were doing at the time was wrong.

Read that last sentence again.  Guilt implies that you knew what you were doing at the time was wrong.

There are times when we don’t know what we don’t know, so we can’t be guilty.  To me that is freeing.

In my own life I’ve learned to look at things through a lens of not being responsible for everything that happens with my kids.  Let me explain.  None of us are God.  We can’t know everything.  There are things we will be blind to until God opens our eyes–typically through a painful event that leads to wisdom.

Our kids didn’t come with an instruction manual.  We learn parenting by trial and error and we will make mistakes.  But most times we don’t know our parenting decisions are mistakes until we see the outcome that proves we should have taken a different approach.  That’s when God peals the blinders from our eyes.  That is where we gain wisdom.

So what can we do to get rid of the guilty feeling that the reason our kids are doing bad things, making poor choices, or are struggling is because we weren’t a good enough parent?  How do we deal with the judgment we are heaping on ourselves making us believe the lie that we are terrible parents?

  1. Take the guilty feelings and leave them at the foot of the cross.  Ask God to help you see truth in that moment.  Did you have the knowledge and wisdom that you do now?  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1.
  2. Learn to accept that we aren’t perfect nor will we ever be this side of eternity.  We can only parent with the knowledge and wisdom we have at the time.
  3. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made.  Let God’s mercy wash those feelings away and ask Him to right your wrongs in your kids’ lives.  With God all things are possible.  Matthew 19:26.
  4. Apologize to your child for the things that come to mind.  Even if it happened a decade ago, letting your child know that you are sorry for what you did at the time lets them know you are human and models accepting responsibility for our own mistakes.
  5. If your teen brings something up, apologize, empathize, and if they are ready to listen, share why you made the decision you made.  Be sure to give them a hug and let them know they are loved.
  6. When guilt rears its ugly head again, and it will, have scriptures available to keep you from the pit.  After all, whatever you have done, whatever guilt or shame you feel, He allowed it to happen.  He works all things together for our good. Romans 8:28.

Pray with me.

Dear Heavenly Father,

“Oh how I feel guilty for things that I have done or should have done with my child.  I know that I did the best that I could with what I knew in the moment.  You created ___________ as a separate human being who has free will.  And that’s kind of hard for me to fathom.  At times our lives are so intertwined that I wish I could help them see what’s best for them.  I’m sad for their choices; however, I know that I cannot own the decisions they’ve made.  I am not God.  Lord, You are weaving a tapestry that I will not fully comprehend this side of heaven.  Please help me to pray without ceasing and let You be God in this situation.  My child is yours, Lord.  You’ve only given him to me on loan.  Help me to do the best I can in each and every moment so that You will receive the glory and honor.

In the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

Knowing that we’ll never be perfect this side of heaven… 

“Let go…and Let God”,

Would you like to learn more about letting go of the guilt we put on ourselves as moms?  Would you like to deepen your relationship with God and your kids?  With All Due Respect isn’t just a book.  It’s deep thinking curriculum that will help you look at yourself as you parent.  It will give you insight as seen through the lens of moms who are farther ahead in the parenting arena.  Why not pick up your copy now or better yet, do it in a small group?

Don’t have a small group?  You can join our eCourse with women across the country that are learning how to connect on a deeper level.  There you will find support from your eCourse mentors as well as myself.  Hope to see you there.