It’s every parent’s nightmare – their teenager wants to start dating before you’re ready. You’re not sure they are ready, either, and things are so different than when you were teens that you may be concerned. Teen dating in a modern world doesn’t have to be a time of dread, however. Instead of being fearful, use communication to help you maneuver through this time.
Before you allow your teenager to start dating, sit down to discuss with them the rules you have for their dating. Explain to them what the consequences are if they don’t follow those rules, and compromise with them so they don’t think you’re totally out of touch. Discuss any questions they may have. If you haven’t had “the” talk with them yet, there’s no time like the present.
Be open and honest with them regarding sexual relationships. Let them know that they shouldn’t feel pressured into having sex and that if this should occur, they should call you right away to come pick them up. Tell them that anyone who is physically, mentally, or sexually abusive is not a good candidate for dating. The first time something like that happens, they should call you, no matter what time of the day or night.
There is no set age that is right for every teen to start dating. So much of whether or not a teen should be allowed to start dating is dependent upon their level of maturity. If they are obviously emotionally too young, you’ll want to give them another year or two to mature.
Decide as a family when you think dating should be allowed. Will boys and girls in the family be given the same age as a guideline? Since girls often mature earlier than boys, you may want to make concessions for a more mature child regardless of their sex.
One rule you’ll want to establish before your child is allowed to go out the first time, is that you want to meet their “date.” This rule should apply to both sexes regardless of whether they are 14 or 18. As long as they are living in your home, insist on meeting their prospective dates.
You may also want to limit their dating in their early teen years to being chaperoned or in group dating situations. You might want to tell them which places they can go, too, but do try to trust their judgment. You can also give them a cell phone and insist that they contact you if plans change, to let you know they’ve arrived safely, and in case of problems.
Allowing your teenager to date in this day and age can be scary. Teen dating in a modern world isn’t the same as when you were their age. Try to keep your relationship open, honest, and loving so they know they can come to you to discuss anything. Learn to trust your parenting, and they should be just fine.