My daughter is 14 years old and wants to go out on a date with a boy from her class. I say ABSOLUTELY NOT, I think she is too young to date and too young to be thinking about boys. I don’t want her to become boy crazy like so many other teen girls. My husband on the other hand thinks it is okay and normal for a girl her age. He thinks I am being overprotective. We have been going back and forth for almost two weeks. What do you think is the appropriate age for a teen to start dating?
Too Young to Date
Dear Too Young:
Usually when I am asked this question, it is the father that is the overprotective one and unrealistically forbidding his little girl to date until she is married! I find it very Cliff Huxtible-ish that your husband is open minded and willing to let his 14-year-old go out on a date. I have to be honest, as I watch reruns of The Cosby Show; I like the balance that Cliff and Claire show with their television children. From Rudy and Bud, to Vanessa and Robert, the Huxtibles allowed their children to have and develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex early in life. Of course this included group dates, and over for company at the house, but it was okay to have a “boyfriend.” Well in my house, I have not been so liberal. My oldest daughter could not date until she was 16. And even then, that just meant her “boyfriend” could date the family. Attend family outings and go out to dinner with us from time to time. I even allowed her to go on a group date or two with other teens. But, she did not have a real date alone with a boy until she was almost 17. I have two other daughters and I am a bit more relaxed because I have learned a thing or two, but the age requirement for dating is still intact. When I say that I am more relaxed, it means that I allow my daughters to develop healthy friendships with the opposite and even talk on the phone from time to time. I have learned that there should be balance and guidance when developing relationships with the opposite sex.
I think the appropriate age to date also depends on your individual teen and their maturity level and also the person that they are wanting to date. Children today have more access to one another through social media and cell phones. They are also overexposed to sexual content through social media, reality television, music, and music videos. And with the alarming teenage dating statistics, we have to be concerned about teenage dating abuse and teenage domestic violence. It is important for parents to help guide relationships with the opposite sex and allow healthy boundaries. I think that we as parents should also remember what this time in our lives was like. Being a teen and dealing with so many emotions can be confusing. We should not make our teens feel like aliens for wanting to date and develop these relationship.
I have also seen scenarios where a parent is so strict on their teen for fear of what might and can happen that it causes the teen to rebel and seek attention from the opposite sex by any means necessary. This does not mean that parents have to give in to their rules and standards, but I think the lines of communication definitely need to be open.