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Readers Respond: At what age should teens start dating?

Responses: 132

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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

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

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