Is it too soon to involve our parents while dating?
While popular culture tells us it’s no longer the norm to ask our parents’ permission, let alone inform them that we’re dating, or who we’re dating, there is wisdom in this age-old practice.
I haven’t always been an advocate of laying my heart out for my parents to see, especially not in my rebellious teen years, but ironically now in adulthood, I’ve seen the benefit of seeking after the thoughts and insights of my dad. The way we date may be different now, but the values, principles and truths of dating and relationships remain the same.
Let me give 3 real-life stories of how parents have played a role in their child’s dating life.
Case #1. I met a guy who piqued my interest and invited him to our family lunch to see how he would fare. Later on, I asked my dad about him, and from his strong disdained reaction, I knew it was a no.
Case #2. A guy I was seeing for a little over a week asked for his parent’s approval before anything became serious between us. They disapproved because I was older than him.
Case #3. This story comes from a guy I dated. He was in a relationship with a girl for a year and a half, but all along, the girl’s parents did not know about it. When the parents found out, they told the girl to break it off as they did not like the guy for her. To save the relationship, the guy proposed marriage to the girl and asked her to choose. The girl made her choice and said no.
Time and feelings could be saved when we take into account our parent’s opinion early on, especially if we see the purpose of our dating as a means to discern the possibility of marriage. But why is it important to get their approval? Does it matter anyway when it’s my life?
Honoring Parents in Chinese Culture
Chinese culture is heavily laden in Confucian philosophy. One of its cornerstones is the virtue of Filial Piety, or respect for one’s parents. It is deeply ingrained in who we are that we listen to and obey our parents. Not as a form of blind loyalty, but as a guiding principle in life and devotion to society (I am Chinese-Filipino, by the way).
The Chinese espouse close-knit family values. Adult children do not leave their family home unless they get married. This is contrary to Western ideals of independence, with most teenagers leaving the nest once they enter into college. And so it follows that Chinese singles living at home would still consider the advice and instructions of their parents. It would be disrespectful not to do so. Twice I’ve heard from Chinese guys that they do so because their parents provided them their education. They see it as their duty to honor them.
Honoring Parents as a Biblical Commandment
God’s commands cover all areas of life, including the choice for a spouse. And one of the most important decisions we’ll make is who we marry. It will determine whether we will laugh at the days to come or squirm at the sight of that person. With such a significant decision to make, it would be wise to seek every available counsel, especially when infatuation sets in overly clouding our judgment. Our parents, who’ve seen us walk in diapers, fail our first subjects, and walk through several job interviews, can help us see what we don’t see in this area of dating. Why not get them involved in the process? Here’s what the bible tells us:
“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3
1. Honoring our parents holds a promise.
We gain hold of a good consequence when we honor our parents. One of which is that it will go well with us and we will enjoy long life. Marriage itself is hard enough. When you throw in having to referee between your spouse and your parents, it can get even more exhausting. Being family-oriented, I see myself spending significant time with both of our families. In the trying times, we will need the support and love of others, even of our parents. It would indeed be easier if the one you marry is approved by your parents.
2. Honoring our parents is obedience to God.
Parents are God-given authorities. They are appointed by God to guide us and help us make good decisions. Their life experiences can offer us insights on paths we’ve yet to walk through. They’ve heard stories, successes and failures that can guide us in making good choices. While not all parents are Christians, God can still use them and speak through them. He is sovereign and everything on earth is under His divine authority. Their ‘no’ could be God’s ‘no’. Some discernment may be required though on our part when sifting through advice that is not in line with God’s word. If that is the case, we can seek God to change our parent’s heart. But until then, we patiently wait on God.
It may be counter-cultural to seek our parent’s involvement in dating. But with the rate of unsuccessful marriages and ill-matched couples, perhaps going against the grain of modern culture is exactly what we need. So go ahead, ask your parents if you haven’t done so already. You may be surprised at what they have to say.