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If parental influence is not great enough to maintain control of the child through these powerful group influences and if normal group behavior includes immorality, trouble will almost surely come to your child soon. It is not without obvious reason that the Bible warns against certain association, saying, "Be not deceived, evil companionships corrupt good morals" I Corinthians 15:33. ASV
The old-fashioned requirement of having your child end his outside activities at a reasonable hour is quite valid and applicable today. Unlimited time for amusement often leads to poor performance at school, at work, and at home. The family that waits up for a late comer will also suffer for lack of rest. Too, the younger children will clamor for the same unlimited privilege. You have the right and the duty to control your children, for the Bible says that, "He that provides not for his own is worse than an infidel" I Timothy 5:8. Providing for your children includes love, direction, discipline, and control, as well as the physical necessities of life. We do not advise an ever-abiding, all-prevailing control of the child. Parents must not stifle the growth of the child by over-control; as the child matures, parental control should be gradually released. It is indeed a fine line that we parents must walk; that between too much and too little control - and it requires the nicest kind of judgement.
Dating, to fulfill its intent and purpose, should be a "hands-off" activity. There are several ways that you can assure your child the fun of dating without endangering his future through over-involvement; some of these are:
- Request double dating with couples of known Christian characteristics.
- Discourage steady dating.
- Refuse too much dating.
- Do not allow dating with companions of too great an age difference. The interests and intent of an 18 year old man are frequently quite different from that of a 14 year old girl.
- Insist that late hours be avoided.
- Control the activities included in dating. Study the message, "Choosing Proper Recreation".
Early training of the child is important. Obedience to parents must be developed early, even in their infancy, and be habitual. It is important to gain and to maintain rapport with your children early in their lives. In this way communication and control can be maintained throughout their lives into adulthood.
For further study of this vital matter, we refer you to messages, "Discipline - Alternative to Tragedy", "Effective Discipline Part I", and also "Part II". For an extensive study we recommend the book, "Dare to Discipline", by Dr. James Dobson, director of Child Development, University of Southern California School of Medicine. You may check this book out from your local library.
May God bless you as you strive to help your children through this wonderful time of their lives.
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