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Readers Respond: At what age should teens start dating?

Responses: 132

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It depends

I don't agree that if kids start dating before age 18 it's inappropriate because "Dating is a part of the marriage courtship process" I think that it depends on the maturity of the individual in question. However, I don't really understand dating in middle school and early in high school, since you're pretty much too young to even go on actual dates. My daughter Maddy is in eighth grade, and after having one boyfriend she made the decision herself to not date till age 16, which I think is a sensible age.
—Guest Calysta

Whenever They Are Ready

One of my twins where ready to date before the other. When ever a child is ready is very important. Trust your child there actions will tell you when there ready.
—Guest mother of twins

Not in high school

Parents need to think about the old days when courting was a precursor to marriage and child bearing. Today, so many high school kids are only thinking of sex. They are not thinking about college or PhD programs. Too many girls are becoming mothers at an early age and insuring a life of being poor. Sex is not the right choice for young girls for they are usually the ones who bear the responsibility if it results in pregnancy. Along with that is giving up the freedom of youth and ability to go on to college and learn to be a lawyer or a doctor. Sex can wait. So to all the young girls in high school--take care of yourself by focusing on grades and going to college. Plan to make a good life for yourself and let sex and marriage be a later decision. You will not be sorry you waited.
—wisegrandma

Teen Dating

Dear Appalled, I completely agree with you. Too many children are not taught the importance of remaining pure until marriage. My children are allowed to group date at age 16, and one-on-one date at age 18. They do not feel oppressed. we are very close and speak frequently of our morals and why they are important
—Guest endure til the end

Concerned about Purity!

I'm saddened that I just read 20 or so comments and no one mentioned the idea of helping our teens preserve their purity. Everyone knows (and you may be in denial if you say it is not a fact) that "dating" leads to kissing, kissing leads to petting, petting leads to sex! Sex then leads to many other issues besides broken hearts i.e: pregnancy, STDs, dropping out of school, etc. I think it is essential that not only do we tell our children that dating is intended to find the person you are to marry, but also the effects of beginning an intimate relationship at such young ages. If our children are not "ready" to find "the one", if they're ducks aren't aligned, then they should not be dating. I may sound a bit conservative but I was a teenager once and I know what teens are capable of. They should not date until COLLEGE!
—Guest Appalled

Only You Know Your Kid(s)

My daughter and I are the closest people in the world. When she was fourteen during one of our many "talks", I asked her if there was any boys she liked. She turned red and admited there was one. After talking more about it, she then asked me if she could date at her age. She is so responsible. She never has any behavior issues at school or home, does every chore without an if, and, or but, and she always tells us what's going on in her life. I told her this, and said I'd prefer her to date at 15, but I trusted her enough to do so now. And even though I gave her premission, she said "no" when he did ask her out. Today she is sixteen and in a relationship that's lasted 8 months so far.
—Guest Trusting Mom

Longer childhood

I didn't start dating until I was 16 and since I didn't date in middle school, I had a longer childhood and I didn't have to worry about all that relationship stuff. I remember as a freshman in high school I would hear about girls already losing their virginities at that age and it was all the girls that had started dating in middle school. Also when I was in 8th grade, there was a 6th grader that had gotten pregnant. So I think the best age should be 16 or 17 because they've definitely grown up enough and they realize the consequences of multiple actions.
—Guest No name

Age: 16

I remember when I was growing up My father simply said not dating until your sixteen. I watched my friends act crazy for guys at 14, being all serious. But at those ages don't you want to just be carefree. Why worry about boys when you can focus on school and having fun?
—Guest kitty

My Opinion

I have 2 sons and 2 daughters: Holden, 16, Sienna, 14, Eli, 12, and Hadley, 10. I remember back in middle school, people in the 6th grade were dating. I even knew a girl who dated in 4th. I saw them make such big deals out of stuff, like breaking up over texts, breaking up period, etc. I think it is ridiculous. We're in the 6th grade. It's not going to last. Why are you going to make such a big deal about it when you still have 7 years until you are a legal adult? My parents didn't let me start dating until I was 16, and I love them for it. It helped me realize that you can make schoolwork your number 1 priority, get into a good college, and still find your husband or wife, even after college. I am letting my kids start dating when they are a junior in high school for all of those reasons and more. Why are you going to go through all of the stress when it's really not worth it at all?
—Guest Mom of 4

In the heat of the battle

If they have the desire by 14 best to have daily contact and a close relationship. Too often parents don't stay involved or know how to give wisdom. There world is still all about them and they need to learn how to care about others too in a safe structured environment. Talk to them about how to listen and have understanding. how to consider what the other feels and what they might be going through. If you don't they're going to do what they want or what their friends say they should. Don't treat it like it's taboo treat them like adults with respect but with boundaries. We all have boundaries... it's time they understood yours too.
—Guest Paul

when their mature

I believe a teen should be able to date when they can prove they are ready. My eldest daughter (who is now 17) started dating at 15. I let her because dating, in my opinion, is a part of growing up and finding who you are as a person. And as for heartbreaks, ya their going to happen, as a teen or adult. All you need to do as a parent is be there for them and let them know it will be ok. I believe if they don't experience this, it will be much worse as an adult. Dating is not only fun for teens but a learning experience. If I had to make a age limit, I would say at least 9th grade.
—Guest Laura

get real

Be open about to your kids and let them experiment. If you don't they will go behind your back, but if you let them they will be much more honest with you and trust your opinion. I learned from experience, my parents wouldn't let me date so snuck around and went to parties and got pregnant, now I'm open with my teen and she's honest with me because I let her date boys. She is 15. And I remember doing those things as a teen just to spite my parents. So please, just be open with them.
—Guest reality check

simply put

Simply put our duaghters have been raised to know and understand that dating is not marriage practice... dating or courting is an act that you engage in when you share a mutual feeling that you may want to spend the rest of your life together. Adulthood in modern society begins at 18 and one is not granted all the full rights of an adult american citizen until 21. Therefore, there is no need for a child to consider dsting until at least the age of 17. The minumum age a child could get married without a parents consent if the child lives in the home would be 18. Dating is a part of thr marriage courtship process. Not to be taken lightly.
—Guest Daddy

High School

I think when your at least in grade 10 age 15+. Middle school for me is too young. Kids in elementary school are starting to date!
—Guest middle school to young

Dating ages are subjective

Allowing our kids to date in their teens at a specific age is really based on the comfort level of the parent and also gender of the child. Parents of girls have more concerns and bare the brunt of potential consequences. Parents of boys who disagree strike more fear in the eyes of parents with girls. If you are a parent stepping into this foray for the first time, I have a suggestion. For me personally with four daughters who have run this gamut successfully, I would recommend waiting until 16 with girls. Prior to this age its in your best interest to only allow group dating with mixed gender friends whom they trust. Girls prior to 16 do not have the skill set to diffuse labels, circumvent advanced agendas, nor have the confidence to stay one step ahead of the nonsense. My kids developed a keen awareness of the social issues and complexities in relationships by waiting.
—Guest snglparents

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