I recently overheard a twelve-year-old girl tell my daughter that she'd been out on a date with her boyfriend the night before. I had to pry my jaw from the ground before I jumped into the conversation. I wanted to confirm what I suspected—that it was a family outing and the boy was allowed to join them. Nope. She assured me that she and her also-twelve-year-old boyfriend were driven to the mall and dropped off, where they had dinner in the food court, wandered around for an hour, and then went to a movie. They were picked up after four hours alone.
My intention has always been to do as my parents did and not let my kids date until they were sixteen—hoping they'd choose to wait even longer. But I suddenly had to face the fact that I wasn't reading the situation clearly enough—I had blinders on.
You see, I didn't realize how common it was for parents to actually allow and even encourage pre-teens to go out on single dates without any supervision, or even be in the home alone with no chaperone. This astounded me—someone who often gets asked for advice on ways to help teens stay pure. Well, I'd start right here with my advice: Supervise. Everything. Constantly.
I am urging you, parents, allow no complete privacy. I'm not suggesting that you need to sit between your teen and his date at the movie theater, but there should never be a moment when they are alone without an adult in the house. Often parents lighten that control as teens get older, but the older they get, the more important is it to protect them from themselves.1