On Hot Buttons: When your teen wants to date the wrong person

Hot Buttons, Sexuality, Nicole O'Dell, choose now, dating teens, parenting teens, peer pressure, In the upcoming Hot Buttons: Sexuality Edition, I address the issue of parental authority when it comes to dating:

Most teens today aren’t interested in Mom and Dad’s opinion of the new person they’re dating, because parents no longer exercise veto power. Many parents have forgotten that they have the right to deny access, to say no to certain relationships, to keep their teen home, and anything else that might keep their kids safe. Instead, many just roll their eyes at rude- ness and disrespect, shake their heads at droopy pants and immodesty, and turn a blind eye to dangerous smoke signals. They’ve laid down their right and responsibility to parent, and we can only hope and pray their teens will come to their senses before it’s too late.


You know what? It’s time to take control over hot button issues like dating and sexuality. You CAN say no. And you can work now to prepare your teen for that moment when you disapprove of a dating choice and exercise your right to step in.

Are you afraid that your teen will hate you or think you’re judgmental if you forbid the dating of certain people? 

Don’t be. Even if it’s someone from church. Even if it’s the pastor’s kid. Your first responsibility is to your child. Let them be angry–it’s just an emotion. It will pass. What won’t pass are the ramifications of dating the wrong person. Those effects can span the emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being of your child. Is that worth the risk?


To help prepare your teen to accept your authority over this issue, let’s take a look at a Hot Button scenario you can use with your teen. Now, in true HOT BUTTONS fashion, tell your teen this story as though it’s really happening to him/her:

A new kid moves into town bringing a bad reputation with him, which he immediately reinforces with bad language. But he’s soooo hot and has an certain way about him that you really, really like. As luck would have it, you get paired with him for a Science lab, and the two of you really hit it off. Before long, he asks you out. You know he’s not at all the type of guy your parents would want you dating and they insist on approving everyone you go out with. It’s hopeless. . .but how can you resist?

Present the following choices to your teenager:

  1. You jump at the chance and hope you can make it happen without telling your parents.
  2. You  say yes! Now to make sure he’s on his best behavior before he meets Mom and Dad. Hopefully they haven’t heard anything about him yet.
  3. You agree to the date, but explain that your parents might not approve. You’ll be honest with them and go with whatever they say.
  4. Cute as he is, you decline. You know he’s not right for you. Anyone you have to hide from your parents isn’t in God’s plan or your parent’s.
Now let your teen make a choice between the responses without feeling judged or directed. You want the response to be as honest as possible. Here are some discussion points you can use to lead the conversation after the choice is made:
  • What are some long-term effects of dating?
  • What could happen if you date someone who doesn’t share your values?
  • What are the rules for choosing potential boyfriends or girlfriends?
  • Why is it important to decide now?
  • How will you feel when/if Mom or Dad say no?

Don’t become partners with those who reject God. How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives. (2 Cor. 6:14-16, MSG)

Hot Buttons is a weekly feature of Choose NOW Ministries where we’re battling peer pressure by tackling tough issues!
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