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Readers Respond: At what age should teens start dating?

Responses: 107

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Wait it out as long as possible

My daughter turned 16 in June. She just came to me asking to go on a date this weekend and I'm hesitant because the boy is 18. I'm shocked at the number of parents that let their children date as early as 12. I know that children have crushes and all that at that age but let's face it, they are still babies at 12. To each his own, I guess. That would never happen in my house.
—Guest Shocked

I think 12. 17 is ridiculous!

I think that when they hit the middle school age they should be allowed to date. It allows them to get comfortable with the idea of dating. It also prepares them for future, more serious relationships. I think making your child wait until she/he is 17 or up is ridiculous. My daughter made a vow with her close friend(at age 11)not to date until they were 16. However the next year her friend broke the promise. I think group dates, visiting each others houses, holding hands, hugging and pecks on the cheeks are appropriate at her age. I think 16 is when they can go on dates alone and get slightly more intimate, but not as far as sex. I think sex should be saved for after you're married. My daughter has told me she has no desire to go any further than hugging, holding hands and maybe a peck on the cheek with her boyfriend. I think it is important to trust that your child is responsible enough to stay within the boundaries. I know my daughter will. So, I think that about 12 is a good age.
—Guest Danielle

Good Kid

I am 15 and my parents have given me permission to date but I guess I'm a late bloomer? I really don't care for all the hand holding, keeping dibs on someone else, and kissing all the time. I've had boys come up and offer their companionship and I turn them down. I have friends who get all worked up over these little boys and it seems silly, some girls I know aren't even virgins anymore. (I'm a 15yr old girl) My mom and Dad instilled good values in me and I don't need some little boy telling me I pretty. I could've told myself that. My point is, everyone grows, matures, and likes different things. Parents should be like mine; open for questions, armed with understanding & facts, and trusting. When I do bring a boy home I know my mom will be cool because me and her know where I am and what I want. So 15-16 is where you release your young to the dogs. :)
—Guest MyMommaDontPlay

Daughter dating

My daughter is 14 soon to be 15 and has her first boyfriend. Right now their relationship consists of dates at one another's homes with parents and family present. I am comfortable with this right now. We have been very open with our daughter about dating, relationships, and sex. We have met his parents and we also have a dialog with his parents. We have agreed to no alone dates at all until 16 or older.
—Guest Jennifer

Teen dating

I strongly don't believe in allowing teens to date. Until the child is out of school I believe the only thing they should be stressing over is getting the best grade possible and good sportsmanship. Going to the movies or outing with a group of friends of both sex is great, but do they really need to have ownership over another person at such a young age. You can only truly know who you are and what type of person you want to spend your life with by interacting with several different people. Learn to laugh before they start to cry.
—Guest I say no

Kicked off the Soap Box

There is absolutely nothing a parent can do about the emerging romantic feelings and when they start to surface. Parents simply must decide to have an open dialog with their children. Insist on knowing the people they spend their time with. Make contact with the parents of their friends, develop a dialog with them. Group dates, family dates, maturity and trustworthiness of the child means something. Make sure where your child stands on intimacy issues. If french kissing and other intimate acts gross them out when you talk about them, it should be pretty clear your child will avoid them on their own. Talk about acceptable age appropriet ways to show someone you care about them. Bake some cookies, make a card, take a bike ride together, make dinner together with the family and watch a movie, do volunteer work together. There are many ways to keep a good handle on dating and teach children how to have responsible, mature and sex free relationships with people they care for.
—Guest Kicked off the Soap Box

14 Is Too Young to Date

We let our 14-year-old freshman daughter date a boy her age. We thought Supervision and good communication with his parents would make it OK. We did not think it would last 9 months and counting. The problem now is that he does not treat her the way he should sometimes which in part I think speaks to his maturity but in part too his character. She doesn't have the maturity yet to see and gets angry when I point these things out. I understand.. I was a teen once too. She is also attached now whereas before she would have sent him packing. That's why I fear that they have been intimate and that's why she is making this seem better than it is. Anyone out there who thinks 16 is a better age...YOU ARE RIGHT! I am going to see a counselor to see what the best course of action would be at this time. My husband says it will just run its course but I don't want to wait as she has 3 years left of high school and I want her to enjoy them without this stress!
—Guest luvscanines

16 should be the age.

I honestly think 16 should be the age for the following reasons -The kid has enought time to mature and make better decisions than that of a 13 year old -The teen is still young enough to get used to the process of meeting and talking to somebody in more than a friendly way. If all the experiences you have are friendly you'll never really be able to adapt to a romantic relationship and never be able to get to a place of wanting to get married without even knowing how love or romance works.
—Guest A teenage girl

Depends on Maturity Level

I feel like the age at which at which it is appropriate to date depends on your definition of "dating". In middle school dating tends to be basically a close friendship, but later it may include light kissing or group dates. By high school, it will probably include actual dates, and possibly sex. I feel like setting strict rules for your children, such as banning dating until college is ridiculous and impractical. If they decide they are ready to date, then they will most likely date behind your back, easily allowing the relationship to advance out of control. Encourage your child to be open about dating. This will help you determine when it is right for your child to start dating. There is no "perfect" age to start dating. It depends on your child's maturity level and what "dating" is. I also feel like almost every child will be ready to date before college. Banning dating before then and refusing to compromise will only make it more desirable and kick in a teen's "rebel" hormone.
—Guest Jay Dee

Trust your kids.

There's no harm in letting kids go on group dates. My daughter started dating when she was 12, I loved the look on her face when she would come back from a date, all bubbly and smiley. It's adorable. I suggest group dates until 14, then being alone is okay. Talking to kids is defenitly important, let them know that as long as you talk to them, you won't be mad.
—Guest Kate

16 is a good time

At the age of 16 your child has had an opportunity to grow and mature to some degree. My daughter just turned 16 and just got this privilege. I allowed her to talk to boys on the phone at 15. ( She DOES NOT have a cellphone) We talk all the time about sex and dating. She can't go on a date by herself until next year at 17. She's a good girl but reality says, if you love someone, eventually you want to have sex. I as a parent, am responsible for opening that door too soon by allowing teens to date too early. Anything earlier than 16, I feel, is too soon.
—Guest Responsible Parent Teen

Way Too Early

I knew a lot of girls (the hot ones), who started dating in tenth grade...big mistake. Major peer pressure to do so.. and they all became VERY wild. All involved in early sex. I don't believe this had any positive developmental advantages. That includes both for boys and girls. Kids should concentrate on grades and sports more than sex. High school is NOT the end all...college should be.... I know from my OWN early experience...which did nothing for me.
—Guest joe

It's tricky

I have allowed my daughter to date at the age of twelve, she is older now with no problems. Some say that their kids who they allowed to date at young age has had sex as early as 14. Well I really think its on who it is. I taught her about sex when she was 5 and talk with all her boyfriends and not all boys are after one thing.
—Guest jason roberts

Better now than never.

Kids should learn from their mistakes so by the time that they start dating for real they know what to do and what not to do, and not screw up an actual relationship although some people marry the first person they date but real life is simply not like that and the reality is: we all make mistakes and its better to learn from them than disregard and avoid them altogether. So yeah let them date but be careful about it so they don't end up making a mistake that they regret. It pretty much all depends on the type of person the child is and whether or not their maturity level is right enough to maintain a "relationship".
—Guest Guestperson

Allowed Dating Too Young

We thought we were doing things right. When we moved across country, we thought we would give in when she said she really liked him, she is 12, 13 in two months. They kissed. I didn't like it, told her they were moving way too fast. Told her to break it off. Now behind our backs she has been doing a little bit more and found out they are even thinking about having sex, he is 13. She is talking about cutting herself because we made them break up. PARENTS, DON'T FOOL YOURSELF INTO BELIEVING IT IS OK FOR GIRLS TO DATE BEFORE 16/17 OR EVEN LATER... you can keep them active with girl friends and church and family, give them all the love in the world but at the end of the day they are still a budding young woman with hormones facing an equally if not more hormone driven young man... who will say anything to get what he wants.
—tracy.8

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