Preteens & Dating Terms by Mia Pinson

115_Preteen_dating.jpgPreteen dating is not something that should be taken lightly. In fact, statistics show that preteen dating can lead to serious problems. Depending on whom you talk to, each of the following terms can have a different definition. But this glossary should give parents an idea of what their children are talking about when they mention dating or a relationship. Discussing these terms with your child now can help you set guidelines for the future as you seek God’s plan for his life.

  • Hooking Up — The term “hooking up” equals every parent’s nightmare. And, it does happen with preteens. When two preteens hook up, they get together for one party, one night, or even just one hour. Sometimes, they know each other, and sometimes, they do not. It really does not matter because there are no strings attached, no commitments, and no plans to ever develop a relationship.
  • FWB (Friends with benefits) — Two good friends who do not want to be in a boy/girl relationship. Instead, they become involved physically whenever it “just happens.”
  • Talking — When a boy and girl are “talking,” they are casually flirting and showing interest in each other. Most of the time, they are not ready to commit to a relationship and are testing the waters to see if their relationship can go further.
  • Drop-Off Dating — Drop-off dating occurs when parents drop their preteen off somewhere they think is safe such as a mall, skating ring, or movie theater. What parents may not realize is often after they are dropped off, their children are picked up and taken to another location.
  • Going Out — When two preteens say they are “going out,” they probably mean they are in a relationship that is recognized by their peers as exclusive. Terms like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are used. Preteens can “go out” without going anywhere on a date.
  • Group Dating — Group dating can be chaperoned or unchaperoned. When preteens group date, they may go out with older friends who drive. Caution: Going on group dates no longer means that your child is safe from being physically intimate (especially if your preteen group dates with older couples). Many teens and preteens now act the same way in front of their friends that they would alone. In fact, sometimes being with friends actually makes it more difficult for preteens to say  “no” to situations in which they are uncomfortable.
  • Family Dating — For many, family dating is a good alternative to secular dating. After searching God’s Word and listening to each other, families can choose their own rules and relationship guidelines. Family dating allows parents to get to know their child’s friends in a more natural setting while it still keeps children under the protection and guidance of their parents.
  • Courtship — Courtship is a “no nonsense” approach to finding a mate. Courtship is not a casual dating relationship. In fact, some couples wait until marriage to kiss each other. Generally, in courtship, a man will pursue a woman with the ultimate goal of finding a spouse. She, in turn, has the benefit of her family’s support and of knowing the man who is pursuing her is seriously seeking God’s plan for their future instead of a casual relationship.

For more on preteen dating, don’t miss Mia’s article "Growth Spurts: 9 to 12 Years — The Dating Game" in this month’s issue of ParentLife.

Is your preteen dating? Does your preteen use these terms? Tell us about your experiences!


Preteens & Cell Phone Safety


images-3.jpegAfter much soul searching, we bought our preteen son a cell phone for Christmas. We have put all kinds of limits on its use. He has never taken it to school or to church. In fact, we bought it primarily for him to take with him for any overnight trips when he is away from us. Additionally, we blocked use of the Internet and texting on his phone.

Many parents are worried about cell phone use. Stories abound of teens who have gotten in trouble for sexting, sending sexual messages or photos via cell phone. Recently we received these tips for parents who are worried about cell phone issues such as sexting, bullying, and sexual predators.


  1. Learn the lingo. Learn the pre-established acronyms like LOL, TTYL, and BRB.
  2. Invade their text space. Text your kids constantly so they consider their phone a space where you are present and watching.
  3. Set “no-text” times and other boundaries. Don’t allow kids to text constantly; they shouldn’t text at the dinner table and a curfew should be set. Clearly set boundaries of what is inappropriate.
  4. Limit use. Choose a plan that keeps track of how many texts can be sent and received.
  5. Read text faces. Just like verbal communication, nonverbal cues are important. Text faces help you tell if someone is disturbed or joking.
  6. Monitor other messaging forums.  Sexting doesn’t start and end with texting. Monitor IMs, e-mails, photos, and other digital forums.

For more about preteens and cell phones, read the 9 to 12 Years Growth Spurt "Can I Have a Cell Phone?" in the January 2010 issue of ParentLife.

 At what age will you buy your preteen or teen a phone?

*Information provided by Predicto Mobile.

What If I Blow It?

In the November 2009 issue of ParentLife, Bob Bunn, editor of Living With Teenagers, sets out to help you establish boundaries to help your preteen flourish by talking about healthy discipline. Every parent has messed up in the area of discipline before. So what do you do if you make a discipline mistake? Here is what Bob has to say!

What If I Blow It?91_talking.jpg

You are going to mess up discipline at some point. You will get angry when you should be operating with a calm spirit or the consequences you deal out will be more extreme than the action deserves. So what happens when you blow it? Here are three ideas drawn from research and personal experience.

  • Apologize. If you stepped out of line with an adult, you probably would not have much trouble admitting it and asking forgiveness. Adopt that same attitude with your preteen. You are not perfect, and she does not expect you to be. So do the right thing and apologize. In addition to rebuilding the relationship, showing a humble spirit in this way provides a great lesson for your child in her future relationships.
  • Determine what you will do differently next time. If your original attempt falls flat, think through your missteps and determine a better way to approach the situation. You probably have heard it said that people do not plan to fail, they just fail to plan. When it comes to mistakes in discipline, make sure you plan for a better future.
  • Do it! It is one thing to create a strategy, but if you never put it into practice, it does not do any good. Be intentional and stick with your plan.

Have you ever had to aplogize to your preteen for a mistake you made? What discipline struggles do you face as the parent of a preteen?

iShine LIVE! — Exciting Event for Preteens

30_iShineLIVE.jpgLooking for something fun to do with your preteen this Spring? If so, consider attending an iShine LIVE! event.

iShine LIVE! is a high-energy, 2.5 hour event that is not only
biblically based but is geared just for preteens! The I stands for
Identity, because iShine LIVE! is all about teaching kids to find their
Identity in Christ, as a child of God.

Hosted by Luke Benward, star of How to Eat Fried Worms and Disney’s
, iShine LIVE! features Robert Pierre, The Rubyz, and speaker
Paige Armstrong. There will be a DJ, dancers, live video, and many other
kinds of high energy entertainment all centered on finding your
identity in Christ!

For tour dates and more information, visit the iShine LIVE! Web site.

Have you been to an iShine LIVE! event? Tell us all about it.

Taking the Stress Out of School

Is your preteen tired of school? Is she feeling the pressure of completing school work, earning good grades, and fitting in with her peers? Help her take the stress out of school.

  1. 28_homework.jpgEncourage excellence but emphasize to your preteen that she does not base her self-worth on grades. There is a balance here. Push her to do her best but assure that her value is grounded in being a child of God. 
  2. Ensure that your preteen has enough time to study and complete homework. Procrastinating or rushing through assignments will catch up to your
    preteen sooner or later. Be proactive in this area. Know what
    assignments are coming up and help your preteen set aside enough time
    to get all of them done.
  3. Celebrate your preteen’s success. Be eager and quick to point out when your preteen does well. When she earns a good grade, praise her! When she writes a paper, ask to read it and give her positive feedback. If the only time you talk about school is when you are critical, your preteen most likely will worry more.

For more help on teaching your preteen to see herself through God’s eyes, be sure to check out ParentLife’s 9 to 12 Years Growth Spurt article “Self-Identity” in the March 2009 issue.

What school struggles is your preteen facing? Do you have
stress-reducing suggestions to share with other parents?  Leave a comment and
let us know.