When you were a teenager, you probably couldn’t wait to get into a relationship. You wanted to have fun and hang out with members of the opposite sex; it was a very exciting time, when everything was fresh and new. You were having a great time. Your parents, on the other hand, were probably less than thrilled, even though they themselves had been in your shoes many years before.
Now you’re a parent of a teenage daughter, and suddenly the tables are turned. You know that dating and going out with friends of both genders is a normal and necessary part of teenage life, but it doesn’t make it any easier for you when your daughter begins to want to date. And because kids are growing up so quickly these days, you’re concerned that she’s still too young. How do you know if your teenage daughter is old enough to date?
Age is More than a Number… But Not Much More
There is no hard and fast rule about when teenage girls are old enough to date. Some parents say fourteen; some parents say sixteen; most parents say not until they’re thirty. It’s easy to say that your daughter has to hit a certain age before she’s allowed to date, and this might work just fine for your family. The truth is, even though teenage girls have varying maturity levels, they don’t vary that much. There is a big difference between a thirteen-year-old and a sixteen-year-old, especially when it comes to friendships, relationships, and the opposite sex. Even if your young teenager is responsible and intelligent, it doesn’t mean she’s ready to tackle the dating world.
What Does “Dating” Mean, Anyway?
If your teenage daughter wants to begin dating, it’s also important to consider what, exactly, she means. If she wants to go out with a boy, is she going to a candlelit dinner or on a drive up to Lover’s Peak? This kind of dating is probably exactly what you don’t approve of. But for young teenagers, a “date” could mean something as simple as going bowling with an entire group of friends (and the boy she likes). Teenagers often want to act older than they really are, but lots of the things they do are still childish, teenage things. If your daughter’s idea of a date means an innocent, chaperoned trip to the mall with all her friends, what is the harm in letting her “date?”
Instilling Good Judgment
Even if you’re tempted to ground your daughter for even mentioning the word “dating”, don’t close your mind so fast. You might not allow her to go on a date, especially if it’s with an older boy or in an uncontrolled environment like his house, but be careful not to let the opportunity to parent go to waste. Talk to your daughter about dating. Not in an embarrassing, lecturing way, but in a way that lets her know you understand her desire to date, and that you’re willing to work on it with her as she gets older to find a solution that makes everyone happy.
Photo Credit: Walter G. Arce