What would I teach him so that he would one day be a good, potential husband for a nice young lady? And, what if the young ladies that he meets along his path, aren't so nice? What if he struggles with understanding the difference between true love and temporary feelings?
Truth be told, we all struggle with knowing the difference and our children will also go through their own struggles. The difficult part will be watching when things aren't positive, but learning what to teach before we embark on this adventure is key.
What can we do?
Teach how Christ loved the church.
Yes, that is a great thing to do but how will he completely relate? The only answer I could come up with was that we show true love and read direct from scripture. We explain God's intention for love and for marital union. We show what it truly means to love each other so much so that he will recognize when something isn't real or hints at a lack of genuineness.
Speak truth. Read truth.
I've had great success so far with my son by speaking everything in truth. There is an age appropriation for every discussion but when they are emotionally ready, you speak truth. My son is only twelve but he is already very aware about sex, temptation and what true friendships will look like. His school has discussed "sexting" and his friends use terms that are very sexual because they are curious. Luckily my son knows that there is not a topic for discussion with us that is off the table. Discussions enable proper teaching and truth.
I've found that the more open I am in an appropriate manner, the less curious he is and therefore he feels confident in making the right choices. He isn't wondering about this or that because he's heard the truth about it before he even encounters an awkward circumstance. By age twelve we have discussed everything that he will encounter in this culture related to love. He has not seen first hand everything that he will encounter, but it is coming. We have to prepare our kids.
Read what scripture says about real love. Back up everything you are teaching with what God has instructed. This is how we are to relate all our decisions, so teaching that scripture is our guidebook is vital as they grow into adults to learn.
Set an expectation.
You give your young adult your expectations and hope for accomplishment. You share with them mistakes you made and the consequences. You also share the good decisions you have made and those consequences. I'll never forget when my new husband and I spoke of the wonderful outcome of us waiting to have sex until our honeymoon. We explained the joy we felt knowing we had accomplished such a difficult task in waiting and how incredibly satisfying it was to share that with the commitment of marriage. How safe we felt and were because we waited. We also shared how difficult this task was. My son was both happy to hear this and slightly grossed out to learn that we have sex. Totally normal, but totally necessary to discuss. We are his examples and even if grossed out by the thought, it was something he'll think about when making his decision whether or not to remain pure.
Giving knowledge is the first way to equip them but the most important thing you can do is to share with them that you are their backbone. They need to know that you will love them no matter what and are behind them to succeed. You know they have what it takes to be successful in this part of their life. Be their cheerleader and support.
Lastly, the key to knowing when your child needs to have a boost in this area is to listen. If you've created an open line of communication, it is imperative that you put down your phone, set work or chores aside and listen to them. We enjoy my son's non-stop talking at dinner because that's when we learn most of what is happening in his life away from us. We take time to go on day trips without technology so that we can just talk together. When he talks he has my undivided attention and I learn so much about how his mind works and what he needs most from me as his parent for him to succeed.
It's a journey full of valleys and hills but creating a healthy foundation will help establish a base for understanding and pursuit of healthy love.