Let me start by saying that I don't like to use the term "courtship" because it is defined differently by different people. That is also what Kathie Morrissey said when she began her seminar at the C.H.A.P. Homeschool Convention on this topic.
Kathie talked about the problems with dating, what courtship is and how to teach it in your home. She quoted out of a couple of books and suggested some books and a DVD or two.
Problems with Dating:
1. Parents aren't involved
2. Loss of physical purity
3. Emotional hurt
4. Keeps focus off the Lord
5. Goal is selfish
6. No destination
7. Negative impact on the future marriage relationship
What is courting?
1. One on one relationship entered into with a view to marriage
2. Relationship that is fully supervised by the parents (not arranged marriages, but "agreed upon" marriages)
3. Reserved for the time when you're ready for marriage
A mentality of saving "all of my heart" for you.
How to Teach it in Your Home:
1. Start when they are young to shape their values
2. Teach self-control
3. Encourage them to reserve pairing off for courtship; help them to develop brother-sister or "just friend"
4. Help them to avoid preoccupation with guy-girl concerns, and to focus on spiritual growth and character
5. Teach them how to handle attraction (attraction doesn't end once you're married; this is why self-control
6. Encourage them to make a commitment
The main ideas behind courtship are: to live under the protection of their God-given authorities and to guard their heart, and save it for that special one.
It is most important to be focusing on focusing on their spiritual growth and on God and not upon selfish desires.
If your son/daughter is talking about someone of interest and showing a lot of emotional focus, direct them from emotion to character by asking them what he/she likes about that person's character.
Encourage your son/daughter to focus on "being the right one" instead of "finding the right one".
One on one relationships or relationships based on selfish desires are distractions from God -- Solomon couldn't handle the distractions of relationship -- it turned his heart from God, and he was the wises man on the earth. David couldn't handle the distraction of relationship -- it caused him to commit murder -- and he was a man after God's own heart. If these strong men of the Bible couldn't handle the distraction of relationship, neither can any of our sons or daughters.
Some of the books that Kathie recommended:
Stay in the Castle by Pastor Jerry Ross
Seven Royal Laws of Courtship by Jerry Ross
For the Counscientious parent. . . Dating: Is it Worth the Risk? by Reb Bradley
Just Friends/guarding your heart for a wonderful someday by Mike Ray and Cary Schmidt
DVDs recommended by Kathie Morrissey:
"Seeds of Disintegration Planted by the Boyfriend/Girlfriend Philosophy"
"God's Plan for Finding a Mate"
I purchased all of the above items and read the first three books. I will be reading the fourth book soon and my husband and I plan to watch the DVDs with our two older boys soon as well. My oldest son has read the first two books so far.
There are other resources to consider, available at http://thecharactercorner.com/, which is Kathie Morrissey's website or you can also check out http://www.generationsofvirtue.org/ which deals mostly with the issue of purity.
I would like to add my own thoughts here as well. I would encourage you to be careful in how you choose to direct your children in this very important part of life. We, as loving, Christian parents, want the best for our children and we would like to protect them from the world, the crazy culture, and the mistakes we have made. But we must remember to handle things in a loving, supportive, encouraging way and be careful not to be iron-fisted, legalistic or dictatorial in this. We want our children to respect and honor our wishes because they, hopefully, understand where we are coming from and that we do want what is best for them and because they love us and want to please us. We want them to feel comfortable in talking to us about their thoughts and feelings. We do not want to hurt them, squash their spirits or turn them to rebellion.
I know that no matter how hard we try to raise our children up in the way they should go, there is always a chance they will rebel and go through a time where they choose to go their own way. Teenagers and young adults can be very challenging and they may not see the value in our wisdom and experience. They may end up making mistakes we don't want them to make and hurting and disappointing us, no matter how hard we try. When these things happen, we need to remember that they are, first and foremost, God's children and allow Him to work in their lives. We must give Him the control, for, ultimately, He is the one in control anyway. No matter how much we think we are in control, we are fooling ourselves to think that way. We must also trust our children because of the things we have taught them.
Sometimes, the only thing we can do is to cling to the Lord and pray, and if we have raised them in the way they should go, to trust that, even if they choose to stray for a time, they will return and not depart.
My husband and I have just begun this part of life's journey and our oldest does not agree with us on some of our courtship ideas because he has friends who have been hurt, angered and frustrated because of their parents, or the person's parents, whom they were interested in. The problem is he is only hearing his friends' side of the story and not any of the parents' points of view. My husband and I believe that our plan of courtship is good and fair and hope that he will learn to trust us -- for that is the other part of the equation -- our son/daughter's trust in us.
My prayer is that all of our beloved sons and daughters would trust our wisdom and that we, as loving, Christian parents would value our children's thoughts and feelings as well, but that ultimately, both parents and children would always have their hearts turned toward God.