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Moms and dads dread the “P” word:puberty. With it comes hormone flux, mood swings, back-talk (or sass), and lots of parents end up cowering in the corner not knowing what to do about it. Especially when it comes to your tween and their crush.
You may call me a “generalizer,” but I think it’s safe to say that around the age of 10 or so, your little baby is thinking about their crush. I admit that sometimes “liking” doesn’t hit until closer to their teen years. It all depends.
My parents sounded like crazy people the day they decided to tell their children (four teenagers) they’d heard a guy teach parents they should never (never) let their children date. Later on, in college, I attended a church where asking a girl to coffee was as good as a marriage proposal. Needless to say, I had a pretty mixed up idea of boys and dating.
Even though I grew up a Christian, there were surprisingly few people who could help me grasp what was godly thinking and behavior when it came to boys.
When I started working at an orphanage in Mexico, they put me in charge of twelve preteen and teenage girls. Yikes! A few weeks into this adventure it became clear that these girls were dealing with tons of emotional baggage – plus crushes! Thank goodness God put people in my way and extra wisdom to help them manage their feelings. If He hadn’t, we might have experienced emotional Chernobyl back then.
In most scenarios, parents are probably going to be oblivious to the specific kid their child has a crush on, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to say. While I worked with girls, I think all of these strategies would work just as well with boys.
Prayer is number one
Then, speak to your child about doing the same. Start by praying with them, and guide them to continue praying for those same things on their own.
Answer the question: Is having a crush a sin?
We don’t want to walk around feeling condemned and sinful for having natural feelings, yet we do it all the time. Susie at church seriously rubs you the wrong way, it’s a natural feeling and somehow we decide that we’re ungracious and unloving and we’re not worthy of the Christian name.
Dear friend, we are not sinning if someone doesn’t make it on your “favorite people” list. We’re called to love them despite our feelings (love is an action, not a feeling).
In the same way, explain to your teen that having feelings for someone isn’t sinful. It’s part of how God created us. He wants us to experience attraction and pleasure with our spouse. Sometimes our emotions get the jump on us and we have to work on the next step:
Ask: are your thoughts pleasing to Christ?
Emphasizing that the feelings of having a crush are not equal to a sin, there are certain things about the crushing process that can turn into sin. Making sure that your conversations are age-appropriate, it’s important to draw the line in the sand for your tween or teen.
Some kids just get it: They know Jesus hears our thoughts. If our thoughts were spoken out loud and they would make us blush in shame, we have a pretty good barometer for sin.
For others, you might need a list. Here’s a good list of sinful thoughts.
Lust is a sin. I’ve been taught that lust is a sin, even in marriage. That’s because the nature of lust is wanting something just for your own immediate personal pleasure. That doesn’t sound very loving, and certainly not very biblical.
Adultery is a sin. Some may differ on this opinion, after all, we’re talking about kids here! In some Christian circles, adultery is sex or sexual thoughts about someone who is not your husband. Therefore if you don’t have a husband yet, then sexual thoughts about anyone else are equal to committing adultery. You’re just doing it before he arrives.
Idol worship is a sin. If your child decides that being with their crush is a priority above honoring parents, obeying Christ, and living in a godly way then they’ve crossed that line.
Sometimes it’s not as obvious as all that. So many kids these days have access to anywhere from one to seven different social media apps with their crush’s profile. Some kids find it easy to obsess over their crush because social media makes it easy to stare at their picture for hours.
Help your teen have a life!
Most of the time obsessions take hold of us for one main reason: we’re bored. When we’re bored it’s easy to think constantly about the one thing that has been driving us nuts. We do it all the time: when my brain isn’t being occupied I “obsess” over what color to paint the walls in my living room.
When your teen is bored, they will find it easy to fall into obsessive (or at least excessive) thought patterns surrounding their crush.
Make sure they’re involved in church, sports and have a healthy social life that doesn’t always include their crush. Having a busy life means they’ll have a busy and more productive mind.
Encourage them to talk to an older godly person about it
Talking to mom or dad about the “cute guy” can be downright impossible for some teens. I pray that your teen is a complete angel and can share everything with you, but for many parents, that’s just not happening.
Make sure that they have good, trusting and godly relationships with at least one older person of the same sex that they can open up to and share their stuff with.
A note on flirting
Let’s define flirting before we go any further. Flirting can be quickly and easily defined as “special treatment.” Special looks, special touches, special smiles, special compliments… you get the idea.
Flirting seems innocent when it starts. Even cute! But there are consequences to flirting that we need to outline for our teens. If your teen is flirting, it raises expectations on both sides. A “special touch” from a girl can make her heart race, but it has a completely different mental and physical effect on a boy.
The Bible encourages us to “show no partiality.” You can be friends with your crush! But flirting is unpleasing to God, not to mention a little tacky.
Finally, your teen should have a toolbox for deflecting flirtation from other people.
- Openly ask the person to stop (flirting with you / complimenting you too often / touching you too much). This is clearly for the very brave.
- Ignore the comments altogether and change the subject.
- Pointedly move away from flirtatious attempts to touch your hand or hang on your arm.
- Pointedly include others in your conversations together.
- Don’t respond to flirtatious texts or messages from this person. Normal mature conversations are okay.
Be clear with your teen about what dating is for. I’m not a spokesperson for “kissing dating goodbye.” And I definitely don’t condone teens casually dating. What I adore and admire in any person at any age is good old fashioned wisdom.
Explain to your teen that dating is simply reserved for people who are ready for marriage. For boys that means they can support a wife and family and aren’t easily distracted by legs or long pretty hair. For girls, that means they’re ready to settle down and discuss serious things like how close she wants to live to her parents and how many kids she wants.
Everyone’s story is different, and “dating”can take on many forms. The rules above apply to dating couples too: honor your parents, honor God with your thoughts and actions, and love the other person by being brave and strong enough to help them do the same.
Seek the Kingdom first
For both parents and teen: seek first God’s Kingdom, and the rest will fall neatly into place.
Parents who communicate, discipline and teach biblical principles to their children will enjoy watching their teen grow up.
Teens who walk with the Lord and in obedience will enjoy a thousand times more blessing and satisfaction with life than those who don’t.
ARE YOU A BOY MOM?
If you are concerned about raising Godly boys, the first thing you need to remember is Relationship Before Rules. Those three words sum up wise, intentional parenting when raising Godly boys. Join Vicki Tillman of 7 Sisters Homeschool for some awesome wisdom from a mom of 4 sons for the Raising Godly Boys Event in Concerned About Raising Godly Boys? Remember Relationship Before Rules.
∞ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ∞
Emily Vega of EmilyVega.com. I help Christian wives and mommies find practical solutions to everyday problems, Proverbs 31 style.