I have had a lot of different thoughts over the years on this issue. Interestingly enough, I have landed nowhere near my original thoughts on the subject. When my girls were smaller I really grasped the whole "courtship" model, and while I still think that parts of it are valid and beautiful, I know that purity and chastity are not externals. While the physical manifestations or lack thereof can be enforced from the outside, it can produce no fruit within. I was one of those who said, "my girls will never date." I have had to reevaluate those words.
Someone on the radical unschooler's list that I belong to asked if we would "allow" dating. I want to be clear that in the same way we wouldn't want our kids to get into a vehicle with someone we didn't know - male or female, drop them off in an unfamiliar area, or hang out in unfamiliar company - we would want to know the person that wanted to take them out. It isn't a "dating specific" standard. We share our thoughts, express our opinions and we listen to them too. We have found that this give and take relationship causes our kids to live in a relationship where they trust us. We don't have to enforce a regulation because they are often asking us what they should do in a given situation.
Casual dating is a bit of a foreign concept. We tend to be a family of wide open hearts that take people we care about all the way in. We have tried but find it virtually impossible to maintain fairly casual relationships. We're either all in or we're out. The young men that have come around thus far are no exception, not because of our daughters, but because our family develops relationships alongside them.
I am sure I have said this here before, but I realized when my girls were younger that forbidding something didn't make it go away. When I told Kendra that she was too young to like boys, I later found out that she still liked them, she just no longer shared that information with me. I don't know about you, but I want to stay in the loop with my kids. I want open relationships. Here's a newsflash for parents of teens: they are attracted to the opposite sex. Often before they are teens they start to model the boy-girl thing. It gets blamed on our culture, public schools, the oversexualization of our children. Maybe it's time we started to realize that God made us this way and all the control we try to exert over it has led us down a bad road. May I suggest that this denial of normal attraction is the cause of so many of the perversions we see in society today.
The concern about sex. I think we need to get over it. We have talked about sex with our kids specifically. Sometimes more specifically than they are comfortable with, but we want to leave no stone unturned. We want them to know that God has a plan for this beautiful relationship to develop between a husband and wife and all the possibilities for it to be corrupted along the way. However, the old mindset of "if they get pregnant as a teenager it will ruin their lives" has dissolved into the background. I had my first child before I was married - and I believe it was the catalyst for the changes needed to save mine. I wouldn't recommend that course of action only because marriage is harder when it is done in reverse of this plan, but Papa is right in the middle of it all, redeeming, working, mending.
Fear about these things has been replaced with liberating freedom. I don't have to choose for them. I can give them all the tools, cheer them on, help them make decisions and allow them to make their own choices for their lives. As much as I love my kids, their relationship with Papa is their own. In that drama, I am supporting cast only.