Did the headline of this article strike fear in your heart? That means that you are probably in the right place. Dating is a huge rite of passage for teens and even bigger milestone for parents. Parents have to worry about all of the things that their teens won’t! Curfew? Who are they going out with? Where are they going? How do I make sure they are safe? The questions and worries are endless.
Here are some things to ponder before saying yes or even no to that first request to go on a date:
1. Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t be afraid to say yes- I think that age and maturity should be a definite consideration before giving the yay or nay. I think it is tricky to have just one blanket age for a child to start dating because each child matures at a different rate. However, I do understand the need for one age when having multiple children in order to promote fairness. If this is the scenario in which you find yourself I suggest setting age a little on the higher side of your comfort level in order to ensure if you have a child with a lower maturity level you are comfortable with when they are allowed to start dating.
2. Do encourage group outings – Encourage your teen to possibly double date or even go out with a group of friends as opposed to having just one to one time with their date. This helps reduce any possible pressure to engage in any physical activities. It will also help ease your mind.
3. Do meet their date – It’s okay to appear like the big, scary parent and request to meet your teen’s date. This isn’t a rule that should be in place for females. If you have a son it is totally okay request to meet their date. It shows your teen that you do care about their welfare and do care about who they attach themselves to.
4. Don’t be afraid to chaperon – If you feel your child is a little young to begin dating independently it is okay to be the chaperon and drive your teen and their date to their destination, sit a few rows behind in the movie and throw popcorn at their heads (the last part may be a smidge overkill).
5. Treat dating as a privilege – Dating is not a right. Dating should be treated like the privilege that it is. That means that if your teen misbehaves, acts inappropriately while on a date or even has a bad report card you are well within your right as a parent to revoke that privilege.
6. Consider a contract – I talk about contracts frequently when discussing the establishment of ground rules for something. I think sitting down and having a document that lays out the framework and ground rules for how something is going to be handled as well as how it will be treated if that contract is broken is a great way to set firm boundaries with your teen regarding your expectations and your teen can know exactly what to expect.
In the end the choice to allow your child to date is up to you. This is just a few points to ponder before taking that giant leap when raising your teen.
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