This is a topic that can push people's buttons - oh my! It is also a topic that, as Christian parents, we need to be educated on. Coming from a non-christian home, it was never a concern as I was growing up. My parents liked to meet the boys that I dated, but that was pretty much it. Everyone dated, after all that was how you got to know someone and have fun. How else were you supposed to find your future husband or wife? It wasn't until our oldest child was of school age that we were made aware that there were "other" options. I was told that there was courtship, although I really didn't have a good grasp on what that was, my curiousity was triggered. Then someone told me about Josh Harris' book entitled I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This book got me to think a bit differently about the whole relationship thing, especially where teens are concerned. I was convinced by my experiences in my young life that dating was not the way to go for our children . . but how to proceed? I must admit that this is still a concern in the back of my mind. We have a grown daughter who read Josh's book and then went to a class at a homeschool convention and heard Leslie and Eric Ludy speak on letting God Write Your Love Story. She got their book and really enjoyed it - she is completely convinced that she wants to let God write her love story. Well, now we have a 15 year old son and he has asked questions like, "If you don't date, how will you ever get a wife/husband?" This has caused me to revisit this whole subject - I wanted to find an appropriate book for him to read this year. I had hoped to wait until he got a bit older because I didn't want to put thoughts of romance into his head. Unfortunately, he has had friends around him who have been allowed to have girlfriends and even go on "unofficial" dates. Thus my feeling the need to deal with this topic soon.
There are so many books out there on the topic of courtship, written by different kinds of people from different perspectives. Some that I have read in the past include: Her Hand in Marriage, by Douglas Wilson; Of Knights and Fair Maidens, by Jeff and Daniel Myers, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Josh Harris; When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy; and most recently, Best Friends for Life, by Michael and Judy Phillips.
In my quest to find the right book for my son, I reread I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris. I think Josh did a good job on this book even though he was young when he wrote it. He shared from the heart and from his experiences and those of people around him. It is a good book for young people trying to sort out this topic and I think they can relate to him because of his young perspective. I had pretty much decided on using this book until I found Best Friends for Life. Of all of the books I have read on this topic, this one seems to be the most mature - but yet the least likely to make your teen curious about things they aren't ready for. The authors wrote the book to both parents and teens. They emphasize parent/teen partnering and trust. Some of the topics included in the book are Teen Romance Mentality, choosing Friends of Character, Many Methods - From Dating to Arranged marriages and blendings of any of them, Prayer and Pre-marriage Apprenticeships. They talk about the practical aspect of these methods and that there is not a one size fits all families method. They also emphasize that no method of itself is fool proof. They include case studies of real people that they know who handled things in different ways and what went wrong and what went right with each. I highly recommend this book.