[quote="Cat, post:12, topic:223746"]
My daughter was fourteen when she started dating a 17-year old.
They dated for seven years, and they were wonderful years for our entire family. So much fun. His family took her on their vacations (down South to meet the whole big extended family). He went to her figure skating competitions, often driving for 12 hours or more to make it to the competition. We included him in all our family celebrations and events, and his family did the same for her.
Two years ago, they got married. Last night we enjoyed Christmas with them.
I disagree that a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old should be kept apart. I would say that parents need to be open to the idea that this man could be the right one for their daughter, and they should welcome him, and TRUST both of the teenagers until the teens do something that destroys the trust. Give them some help to keep that trust pure (e.g., they're not allowed to be alone in a bedroom).
The parents need to talk things over with both of the teens and let them know what the limits to the dating will be (e.g., I think it's appropriate to not allow them to car date yet. I would suggest limiting their dating to group dates, church dates, and family get-togethers in homes in plain sight of the rest of the family). As the teens get older, if they are still together, then the dating can be expanded to car dates and dates with just the two of them in public places (theater, going out to eat, church, etc.)
Oh, yes, church--both should be expected to attend church and continue religious practices, and it would be good to get involved with the youth group and do various service projects in the church together. This is an excellent way for a young couple to grow in the Lord and closer to each other.
My daughter and her husband essentially grew up together, and they formed a lot of their political, social, sports, arts, etc. preferences together. It's funny to watch them today--they're like an old couple, because they know what each other's preferences are. I think this is a great thing--so many couples only date for a short time and then get married and wham, it all falls apart because they discover that they really don't have much in common. But that long period of young dating really helped our daughter and her husband to "gel." They also did a lot of service projects, coaching of sports, babysitting family children (cousins, etc.), working around the house with parents, etc. that helped them to grow up and get trained in everyday life.
We are thrilled with our son-in-law! I repeat, the parents should be open to the possibility of a future marriage, and they should NOT drive this young man away unless he and their daughter break trust with the parents. Just because in the United States, the current secular thinking is "Wait until you're at least 25 before considering marriage" doesn't mean that Catholic, Christian people should go along with this. In the not so far past, many couples dated as teenagers and got married as teenagers and early 20s. (E.g., Laura Ingalls Wilder in the Little House series). It's not wrong for teenagers to fall in love and get married young.
Congrats on your involvement and satisfaction w/ your sil.
Was the incessant texting a problem for you? Did you take the courtship approach vs the unsupervised dating approach?