This question is faced by parent is homes across the world daily. Where one may think it a simple matter its really not. In this article we will discuss dating and when your child should start dating We will break this down to groups as there is no one size fits all and situations can vary.
Age group 10 – 13:
You may feel this age group too young and, we would agree. We have not defined “dating”. In this age group its very unlikely they would not engage in an actual “date” in traditional since. This being when the two leave on their own to go out somewhere, perhaps a movie etc. Neither would be driving of course. We are not including a situation where a child in this age group is dating someone old enough to drive. This is a whole different matter and a parent should give careful thought before allowing such a relationship with a teen 16 or older.
Before you let your child go on this “date” you need to know your child! Is he/she easily influenced? If yes you may want to reconsider letting child out out alone with his/her companion. Know the other child! Make sure you have met this other child and know this child well enough before your child is alone with him/her. Know exactly where they are going and when you expect them back. Better yet drive them there and pick them up or make sure other parent does. “You” not child puts limits on date and how much contact is permitted. If your ok with the traditional goodnight kiss fine if not then your child needs to know this. Because the child is still young you (The parent) set all ground rules with no exceptions! Personally we did not allow any of our children to “date” at this age (they didn’t ask either). You don’t want your child’s mind consumed with his/her new friend and not school and other important issues. As we adults all know this is easy to do even when older. There is no real reason a child this age needs to “date”. Let them hang out at each others home under parental supervision but there is no need to date. However if you feel otherwise the guidelines set above should help you protect your child.
Age group 14 – 16:
Now this is probably the age range when your child will start seeing others in a different light or better put romantic light. They will also likely know about sex by now as well. Peer pressure also plays huge role in their lives. This age group may also be able to lawfully have sex. Age of consent laws vary so check your states or visit our forum page for help. This can be dangerous age as this age group likes to rebel more than other age groups. Peer pressure to engage in dangerous behaviors plays role as well. Personally if your state laws do not permit sex at your child’s age then don’t allow dating! This removes the urge to rebel or pressure to engage in dangerous behaviors like sex. It would be important to let child know this long before they reach that age group. Our kids we told they could not date (in traditional dating) until they reached 18. This worked well for us and them as they were or are on honor roll each year one finished High School in top ten and is Sophomore at a University. One is a freshman at a different University. One is senior in High school in top 15% and our youngest (13) is also an honor student. Your children may be older and it may be ok for you to allow them to date but you make the rules still! You set all conditions on where they go how they get there who they are with and when they come home. If they have a cell ask them to text you. When they return or next day ask them about their date and how it went. While they tell you read between the lines for any concerns if any. Let them know your not being nosy just concerned. Remind them you were a teen once before as well and where you trust them you do understand how good people sometimes make poor choices even unintentionally. You don’t mean to upset them but you love them and care for them so your being a parent! If they don’t like it then they don’t have to date. Remember its your rules! If you have stories of your own poor choices or people you know that will help show then how things happen. Don’t hide your past or past mistakes from them unless you want them to repeat them for you! These are lessons they can learn where you not them suffered the consequences. When you meet this “love interest” make he/she knows what you expect from both of them and what ground rules are. Be firm but kind at same time.
Age group 17 – 18:
This is pretty much where your going to have to cut the apron strings moist likely. Your going to need to have faith you have done all you can and pray they make good choices. We will assume that even the 18 year old still lives at home. Your house your rules! If your paying the mortgage, buying the food etc they enjoy its your rules this includes where they go etc. Now I don’t mean this to be as you would a 15 year old. Example I still lived at home when I was 25. Since I lived under my parents roof ate food they bought etc when I wen tout I told them I was leaving and when or if I would be home. Even the 18 year old (legal adult) can show enough respect to do this. Dating is going to happen but still try to maintain some control in case your child starts making poor choices. A child in this age group or previous age group might find a younger person as possible love interest. This can be very dangerous! If at all possible stop your 16 and up child from dating any child 15 or younger! Too many things can get out of hand and your child’s future and life can be ruined. Your child even older child will likely choose what feels or looks good at time and not think through possible consequences. You still need to be a parent! Parenting does not end when your child reaches the age of majority!