LISA - Can mormons parent their own children or do they have to use the guidelines set by the church? like for instance the church has guidelines about children not dating until 16? i have a child who is 13 and my child dates and that works for our family.

JOEL - Members of our church are given some guidelines that help them in parenting their children. They learn about these thngs in church, in books, from our leaders, and in the scriptures. What a parent does with that information is completely up to them. Our leaders do often remind us of the seriously important role we play in the proper emotional, physical, and spiritual development of our children. God has told us in our scriptures:
"And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents."(D&C 68:25)

In the case of dating, parents are advised to teach their children that it is better to wait until they are at least 16 years old. Not all parents follow this council. And some kids who date early don't have any problems. Most of them, however, do get into some kind of trouble if they start too young. But only a parent can know when their child is mature enough and has enough self control to allow them to start dating. For some children it might even be older than 16. The church guidelines are there to help us have some kind of an idea on when the time is right for such things. Studies have shown that there is a higher rate of inappropriate physical relationships when dating begins too early. Early dating limits the number of other young people a teen can get to know, and it deprives them of experiences that will help them choose an eternal partner.
The Church is not there to control our lives. We believe that there are true prophets at the head of the church who receive revelation from God that helps us on our path to eternal life. The guideline they provide for us are inspired by a God who loves us and wants us to return to Him. It makes sense that we should follow their council.

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