Dating for catholic teens

Dating and relationships can be a challenge for anyone, but it can be especially overwhelming for Catholic teenagers.This guide is designed to steer them through this potential maze.

Of course there is a wide variety of opinion among parents about when children can date, or even–for those parents who advocate courtship–whether children should date at all. In the document, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, the Pontifical Council on the Family (the official group within the Church, instituted in the early 80’s, which desires to respond to the expectations of Christians everywhere regarding the family and all issues that pertain to it) reminds parents that sex and relationship education isn’t just about teaching mechanics, it’s primarily about conveying values and character.But regardless of where individual parents’ opinion falls on this topic, there are a few things that parents should keep in mind for evaluating whether you are adequately preparing your young person to have healthy, chaste, adult relationships. Preparing teens for the world of healthy romantic relationships has to begin with helping teens own their own values and beliefs–the building blocks of identity.Healthy relationships inspire a young person to be stronger in their values and beliefs, while unhealthy relationships cause a young person to feel awkward or ashamed of their values and beliefs.The more the youth owns his or her values (as opposed to simply parroting what mom and dad say) has the best chance of evaluating what relationships are good for them and which are not.There are two things that a parent can do to foster this sense in teens.First, parents need to make sure that the teen is getting individual prayer time as well as participating actively in any family prayer.It is impossible for a child to learn how to become a godly adult unless he or she is spending time alone with God allowing his or her heart to be instructed by God.Secondly, it can be useful to help the teen develop his or her own mission statement that enumerates the core virtues and beliefs by which he or she wants to live.Then, in helping the teen evaluate choices in general and relationship choices in particular, the parent can ask the teen, “How does that possible choice affect your desire to be a (responsible, faithful, loving, generous, etc) person?” This gives the young person active training on how to use Christian virtue as a tool for discerning appropriate choices.Research has shown that young people who have a strong personal prayerlife and a strong internalized value system are much more successful at remaining chaste and having healthy adult relationships. Whether your child is 15 or 50, your teen is not ready to date if he or she does not know how to first be a friend to a member of the opposite sex.

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