Over the years, much of what I did as a parent was motivated by fear. I was especially concerned about how we would navigate parenting when our children began to show interest in the opposite sex. As I reflect back over the years, I can testify that God walked us through those years and poured out His grace, giving us wisdom when we needed it.
Did we navigate those waters perfectly? Absolutely not! In fact, if I could do it over there are things I would have done differently! But God was present and working even when I did or said things that weren’t necessary. All of my best efforts as a parent cannot do a work in the heart of my children and make them want to honor God. It is, and always has been, a work of the Holy Spirit alone. He draws, He opens eyes, He transforms. Being reminded of that has ultimately taken the burden off of my shoulders and thrown it onto the strong shoulders of our faithful God.
6 Things To Remember When Your Children Begin Noticing The Opposite Sex
- Prepare your children. Begin preparing your children before the “noticing” begins. Have ongoing and open dialogue with your kids as soon as you can. The teaching can begin long before they enter the noticing/interest season.
- Don’t make them feel guilty. Make sure your children understand that noticing and being interested in the opposite sex is a normal thing, and not something to feel guilty about. As my daughter got older, she confessed that she felt guilty for noticing guys. I had to work to correct her thinking and help direct her noticing and interest, helping her learn that it’s how she responds to the attraction and noticing that is important.
- Don’t make a list of rules. One thing I have observed is that if we approach this particular season with fear in our hearts, creating a list of rules, it will many times have the opposite result a parent desires.
- Draw your children out. Ask them why they are attracted to a particular person. Don’t become shocked at normal attractions or lecture them if they don’t give you the “correct” answer. I remember the look of relief on my daughter’s face when she would “confess” that she thought a particular guy was “cute” , and I would simply agree with her! It helped her to realize that her attractions were normal – not sinful.
- Pray for their peers. If you see young people who are going down a sinful path, pray for them! Remind your children that none of us are above making poor choices. Criticizing and judging those who are struggling will tempt your children to judge their struggling peer, and hesitant to come to you if they make mistakes.
- Pray. There are a lot of excellent resources that we can turn to. Ultimately we need to be on our knees asking God for wisdom. We need his guidance as we walk our children through these seasons.
Remember that each child is different and will mature at different rates. Create an atmosphere of grace so that they know you will love them no matter what choices they make. We don’t need to be afraid! Cling to God, ask for wisdom, and walk in the relief that God is the One who will guide you as you walk your children through these complicated and exciting years!