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Readers Respond: At what age should teens start dating?

Responses: 107

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The Dutch View

I am the mother of a 12 yr. old girl. She looks older (15 or so) and that is NOT because of the way she dresses. She just looks that way. She had a "boyfriend" when she was 5 (boy was the same age), which consisted of holding hands and giving each other kisses on the cheek. She also had a "boyfriend" at 11, who was 2 years older then her, but in the same grade with her. They "dated" for two weeks, which consisted of playdates (at my home and his), hanging out together and a few kisses on the mouth (no french, and i know this because she told me). My kid is not an adult and she knows it. She also isn't ready for sex or any kind of sexual relationships (inc. frenching) but she is into long lasting friendships and she really was drawn to the boy she "dated" at 11 for his personality. I say, know your children and allow them to grow up on their own time. The dutch believe in being ready for sex (at any age) and we also use the term "kinderverliefdheid", which means as much as "kidslove".
—Guest mona

Does anyone meet the parents?

I guess I hear that we have to trust our parenting skills and trust our kids. What I don't heat is that parents are meeting parents. I feel even at age 15 to 16 we as parents need to meet each other. our kids will find a way to date with or without our approval. It is out job as parents to meet each other as to give out kids our opinion of what he/she is getting into. We won't be able to stop them from dating, but we will be able to give them our thoughts and bits of experience. We should trust, but never stop talking to our kids letting them know that they will make mistakes as we did. If they have more information they can make better choices in life. I don't feel too good about letting my son out into this world not a bit. I do however feel I am a good MOM and have done a pretty good job....TRUST and talk to our kids. Even when they don't want to hear us.
—Guest zi

14 is the Correct Age

I think, kids these days don't know much about dating, but they have their own feelings for the guy they like. For guys it's easier, since they are supposed to go through dating. But girls, need to experience healthy dating from 14 onwards since they mature and learn from their mistakes. Even if you stop them, they will do it. So it's better to let them do it. Teenagers nowadays are rebellious and tend to do things which parents tell them nor too. Bur with proper explanations and if they do know their limits and boundaries, they should date and know the experience. 14 is the correct age.
—Guest Guest Teenage life.

Just Start Dating

My daughter told me couple days ago that she was dating a friend we know from couple months.... We never talked about dating time, we believe and trust her... It's not easy to feel comfortable with the idea. We always have conversation about sexuality and relationships which is not the same thing. What girls want is not what boys want, and she knows it. I think the key is to have open conversation about relationship (considering her age) give her advise and trust her and the values we have teaching her.
—Guest Mother of a 14 years old

Dating has no purpose.

Parents and teens embrace dating as a normal part of being a teenager. The truth of that is "single dating", that is having a boyfriend or girlfriend, does not benefit teens in anyway. Social skills can be developed without dating. Getting to know someone can be done on a "friends only" basis. There is no purpose to dating except to show "posession" of the other person and keep them "off the market" which is selfish. Real love can never develop out of that. Also, dating only provides an implied acceptance for a physical relationship. If "getting it on" is the only reason for dating, that too is a purely selfish motivation and a "real" relationship can never grow from that. The teen brain does not fully mature until around the age of 21. Until that time, the portion of the brain that controls empathy(prefrontal cortex) is not fully developed. Why would a parent allow a child without a fully developed brain to make decisions that could potentially effect their lives forever?
—Guest teacherintheroom

Teens should be allowed to date..

Parents want certain things for their child. They want them to get a good education, make real friends (childhood bonds are very important), learn to socialize and of course enjoy being a kid. Many adults have the misguided opinion that dating should begin when their child is 20! This is not true! Dating helps teens to get to know someone they may possibly be interested in having a relationship with. As teen develops so will their needs and the people they're attracted to will be more mature. Insisting that your child waits until they're 20 (or older) to date has two disadvantages. Firstly you can't keep as close an eye on a 20 year old as you can a 16 year old. This will lead to a 20 year old who doesn't know how to socialize correctly and who may fall in love with their fist love and end up pregnant with a baby before they have had a proper chance to enjoy young-adulthood. Secondly, no one wants to date a 20 year old who is shy/inexperienced. So let your kids date!!!
—Guest 16 && Not allowed to date

Strict Parent

My father died when I was 3 and left my mother to raise 6 kids by herself. My four brothers where allowed to date numerous girls while my sister(8yrs older) and I were forbidden to date anyone. We weren't allowed to even mention boys or ask anything about sex what so ever!!My sister was 22 before she had her first boyfriend, I left after graduation because of how strict it was and fell in love with the first boy I dated. We'll I married him, had children and lived a life of complete hell until I had the courage to leave him. My mother did the best she could but sheltered me so much that it hurt me when I entered the real world. I have two daughters of my own 22 and 16. My 16yr old started dating and we keep open lines of communication and set boundaries that we both can live with. I will not repeat my mothers cycle with my own daughters. Let your children experience life just be involved.
—newhouse17

Never.

Why is it so socially acceptable to date? All it does is reduce the institution of marriage to a set of legal papers (papers that can be easily torn up), and it psychologically and emotionally hurts our children. Especially our girls. They take it to heart while many of our young men approach it from a very shallow angle. Taking away true and wholesome responsibility from a relationship is seen by females as the easy way to satisfy their desire for attention and by males as the easy way to satisfy their sexual desire. And all it's doing is permanently damaging our kids. Educate your children on why dating will hurt them more than help them. Tell them not to worry about relationships until they're ready to get married- until someone is really willing to commit their lives to them.
—Guest A teen

11 YO dating

My 11 yo daughter was asked out by a boy in a grade above her. She looks more like a 15 yo as I did at her age. Her step dad and I have told her no boyfriends until much later and we will discuss group dating after she is 15/16. We are being pretty adamant about this and will go with spending more time with her and encouraging her to invite her friends over who are not so into boys yet. We are very religious and want her to care about her own personal needs (academics and friends). We have told her to concentrate on herself and enjoy her activities. Hopefully we can continue to help her grow into an independent and strong young woman which maintaining healthy parental relationships. We are not terribly restrictive but this is one area where we are not willing to compromise.
—thewalterfamily2002

Let them date!

Be supportive of your kids. They're going to have feelings about a special someone during those awkward teenage years. Have boundaries for them like: they need to come home at curfew, you need to meet their date before they leave, no one-on-one dates until they're -- years old, keep your GPA above -.--. Yes, be a parent, but also realize these kids are going to be adults soon. Dating is like learning how to ride a bike. Teenage dating is like riding with training wheels and you ARE the training wheels. It's your job as a parent to answer questions, ask questions, trust them, and support them. Keep an open line of communication, and be willing to make reasonable negotiations with them. These teens are figuring themselves out, let them!
—Guest 22 year old woman

Depends What Your Talking About.

I think that there's really two different things of dating for kids. A lot of kids will "date"when there 11 or 12, it is not really dating its just talking in school, eating lunch together and maybe going to family events with the person and maybe hangout with supervision from parents. At that age that's fine, no harm done. I don't think kids should actually date were they go out on dates and go to things together until they are 14.
—Guest logan

Young Teens

I told my son he could date at 15 as long as he is with a group I know or at home. He can't wait! lol
—Guest yung

Whenever

Growing up there were no rules for when we could date. My brothers and sister started dating when they were in middle school, but I never dated mainly because no one ever approached me and I was just too shy to ask someone else out. Now my brothers and sister all have kids and I have still yet to date. I don't think you should put an age limit on dating. If two people like each other and have the courage to ask each other out than I think that they are surly old enough to date.
—Guest Solomon

It gets intense, fast.

I have read all of these posts and am happy to see others like me out there. My daughter is a sophmore (15 and a half) - she "dated" one other guy last year - consisted of a family outing and a movie night at our house - and he broke her heart. She has wanted a "relationship" for a long time and now has a steady boyfriend. He is 15 also. he comes from a different background - lives with his mother - left alone a lot - kind of a lonely life but seems to be a nice kid. They seem to really like each other but I get the sense from texts and convos with my daughter that he is very physically attracted to her and will take as much as she is willing to give. This worries me because although I know my daughter is a good girl - mature, high honors student great athlete - she REALLY likes him and when u like someone u want to please them and make it so that they wont go away.
—Guest scared mom of 15 year old "in love"

What is dating for?

Dating is the alternative to arranged marriages. So if you are not in the market to get married anytime soon there is no good reason to be dating. One thing leads to another, it always has and probably, as we are human, always will. It is a responsibility just like driving a car. Just because you reach a certain age does not mean you are ready for it. My only child, a daughter, is now 12 and has been dating behind my back for 2 months and her grades have suffered. Phone taken away, teachers aware and extra chores. Lying was the first offense. Letting a boy distract you from your education was the 2nd offense. Tough job being a parent.
—Guest Elora's Mom

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