That said, it's vital to add that there's a bigger issue at stake here than "how far is too far" - namely, the question of timing.
Sexuality is a powerful thing, and sexual intimacy is progressive in nature.
If you would like to discuss this matter at greater length with a member of our staff, we hope you'll feel free to call Focus on the Family's Counseling Department at your convenience. The Family Help Center staff member who answers the phone will arrange for a licensed counselor to call you back.
And when you discuss the reasons for resisting temptation, don't dwell on the negatives.
Instead, emphasize the positive benefits of waiting: deeper trust and enjoyment of sex in marriage, enhanced physical and emotional health, self-respect, and a strong relationship with God.
Practical application: prudish as it may sound, we'd suggest that dating teens need to set the physical limit at modest kissing. As a general rule, adolescent couples should also avoid being alone.
If they want to be together, they should do it in a setting where other people are present.
Naturally, your teen won't be able to put all this into effect unless he or she can muster up a certain amount of assertiveness and self-determination. Kids have to choose for themselves between wisdom and foolishness.
Tell your teen that God designed sex to be a process between husband and wife, and that when it is separated from this context it leads to frustration, separation, and pain.
Experts in the study of human sexuality have identified seven progressive stages of physical intimacy: 1) hand-holding; 2) arm around the waist; 3) kissing; 4) French kissing; 5) feeling out; 6) intimate foreplay; and 7) sexual intercourse.
The important thing to notice is that conscious, willful control tends to give way to passion after stage #3. We'd also point out that the longer two teens of the opposite sex are together and the more physically affectionate they allow themselves to become, the more difficult it will be to resist temptation.
After that point, our hormones start calling the shots. At that point, any rules and guidelines we might be able to lay down aren't going to be of much help.
But don't panic: if your child is already dating, it's not too late - you can still take the initiative to sit down and discuss physical limits.
There are three basic principles you'll want to stress: 1) sex outside of marriage is not an option; 2) stay in control of your own body; and 3) always show respect for your body and your date's.