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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Jewish Childrearing Related Questions (12/12)
Section - Question 21.10.1: Growing Older: My child wants to start dating? How do I ensure proper behavior?

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   Well, the "Dr. Laura" answer is for the child to wait until he or she
   is ready for marriage before serious dating can begin. Certainly, it's
   within the parents' right to be strict -- more than that, it is their
   responsibility. Regardless of what "all the other kids are doing", if
   you're serious about ensuring proper behavior, don't allow boys and
   girls to be alone together. They have no "right to privacy" in an era
   when teen pregnancies happen even to the smart kids (and even to the
   Jewish kids), and if they are living in your home, you can create and
   enforce standards you feel are morally appropriate. All of this may
   sound a little on the tough side, but to any sensible parent, it will
   seem like a small price to pay for knowing who your kids are with and
   who they're doing it with until they are old enough to be trusted.
   For those in the Conservative movement, the Rabbinical Assembly
   Commision on Sexuality has published "This Is My Beloved: This Is My
   Friend: A Rabbinic Letter on Intimate Relations". This booklet
   instructs laypeople in Jewish tradition's views of all areas of human
   sexuality, including dating and marriage. It is available from the
   United Synagogue Book Service
   ([5] More specifically, one
   of the members of that commission, Rabbi Michael Gold, wrote "Does God
   Belong in the Bedroom?" (JPS), which includes a chapter on this topic.
   He identifies sex keys that parents can provide their children with
   that will help them grow into responsible Jewish adults. These keys,
   briefly stated are: self-esteem; a positive body image; accurate
   knowledge about sexuality; Jewish values; a sense of holiness, and
   proper role models.
   The question that most Jewish parents ask today is how to deal with a
   teenage child who wants to date a non-Jew. Rabbi Alan Silverstein has
   dealt with the uneasy questions surrounding interfaith dating in "It
   All Begins with a Date: Jewish Concerns about Intermarriage" and
   "Preserving Jewishness in Your Family After Intermarriage Has
   Occurred". [Jason Aronson Inc. 1995] Written on behalf of the
   Conservative Movement's Leadership Council, these books offer a
   comprehensive guide for anyone struggling with interdating and
   intermarriage, from teenagers to parents to interfaith couples
   wondering how to raise their children. Rabbi Silverstein's own
   perspective on interfaith dating is that every date must be treated as
   a potential mate: "If you are committed to living in the US, you don't
   date a Scandinavian exchange student bent on returning home." With
   great ease, he segues from a hard line on prevention to the hard
   realities facing an intermarried couple. "The Conservative Movement's
   approach offers a combination of compassion and principle, one that
   teaches the ideal but deals with the reality." "It All Begins with a
   Date" offers a preventive approach to inter-dating and intermarriage
   and includes a section on raising children to value Judaism.
   "Preserving Jewishness in Your Family" understands that when
   intermarriage does occur, a new set of issues arises that requires
   equally careful examination, discussion and resolution. More
   information is available at

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