How does a parent help his or her kids to think long-term and start looking for characteristics they might desire in a spouse instead of focusing only on the short term goal of finding someone to date? It takes training. I write about this essential preparation in my book, The Talks.
When parents neglect to teach their kids to be discerning about the character of opposite sex friends in their lives, teens can easily "stumble" into romantic relationships without considering if they are in love with someone worth marrying.
It is never a bad idea to remind your sons (and even your daughters) of the truth found in Proverbs 31:30: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised." In other words, a pretty girl is nice, but you need to learn to look for something of more substance. That said, there are at least five important questions you can train your kids to ask as they consider the guys and girls around them.
1. How does he or she treat others?
Perhaps the easiest way to quickly evaluate a person's character is to examine how they treat the people around them, especially in those moments when they think that nobody is looking. It might be wise to encourage your children to memorize the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, and then use them as a quick mental checklist of things to look for in those around them. Nobody is perfect, but someone who more often than not naturally displays "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" as they interact with others is probably the type of person you want your kids to take note of. Wise parents will challenge their kids to look for these traits in their opposite sex peers.
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