Teen Dating: Ways to Handle It

| January 18, 2013 | 36 Comments

The time has come, or it will be coming sooner than you imagine is possible: Your child comes home with stars in his (or her) eyes, sure that true love has been found. Your son might say that he’s “going out” or “dating” someone, or your daughter might throw you for a loop by casually mentioning that she’s planning on “hanging out” with a certain special someone. Whether this happens when your child is 10 or 16, you might scramble a bit as you try to determine what’s appropriate at what age. While this is something that every family has to decide on its own, here are some things to think about and discuss with your child:

  • In most cases, dating should begin with group outings. “Group dates” are popular in the middle school years, and usually involve a roughly equal number of boys and girls. Kids might be paired up, or they might not be. In some cases, one or two of the kids might have an interest in one or two others, and the rest might just be friends. If your pre-teen or young teen wants to start dating, this might be an option that you’d consider reasonable. It gives kids a chance to practice their social skills with those of the opposite sex, and provides the relative safety of several other kids their age in their company. Kids might go on group dates for ice cream, to the movies, bowling, and to other casual public venues.
  • If your child wants to start dating and you are uncomfortable with the idea, consider letting them have dates at home, with you in the house to supervise. This doesn’t mean that you’ll sit between them on the sofa while they watch a movie, but it usually does mean the kids stay in a public area of the house where a parent or sibling might stroll through or peek in at any time. As a mom, your job is to find some things to do in the kitchen or in other adjacent rooms to keep yourself busy while also keeping an ear and occasional eye on things. You should also spend some time talking to both kids, maybe over lunch or dinner. This can allow your guest to get to know the whole family as he gets to know your child.
  • One-on-one dates become appropriate when you are able to trust your own child to make good decisions. In many families, these begin at some point during the high school years. If the kids aren’t old enough to drive, then that builds in some parental involvement, but once they have their drivers’ licenses and you allow car-dates, you have a lot less control. Obviously, this can only come after you have had frank discussions with your own child about behaviors that are and are not appropriate. Your child needs to know where you stand on sensitive issues pertaining to physical intimacy, and needs to know all of the facts about how to keep him- or herself safe and healthy.

Teen dating is a delicate topic and can be a difficult part of the transition into adulthood for parents to accept and deal with. Most kids will want to be dating before the high school years are over, though, so you’ll need to come to some agreement within your family what the guidelines are. Open communication can go a long way in making you feel comfortable and helping your child to make good decisions.

Comments (36)

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  1. Sarah VM says:

    My son is 14 and this is coming up soon for us. It’s so difficult to know what the right choice is.

  2. Leslie Galloway says:

    I think group dates are a great idea, and are even more comfortable for the teens involved, if I remember correctly. It’s been a while since I’ve been a teen. hehe.

  3. Jennifer Mae Hiles says:

    I don’t even want to think about teen dating! I know the troubles I had as a teen and don’t want to see my daughter’s in similar situations. I like the “dates at home” idea! I don’t see my husband handling any of it very well…

  4. RonLeyba says:

    Teen dating is indeed a delicate stuff to handle, as a parent. It all comes down to the trust and how you educate your child about it.

  5. denise smith says:

    my daughter is 13 she is beginning to notice boys so we have tried to talked to her about dating and things like this to her to thanks for the post

  6. Rama says:

    Kids are still far from there teens! but thanks for the head up 😉

  7. Wendy Mastin says:

    I work in a middle school and these kids really need to learn about this the sooner the better.

  8. Mitzi Fisher says:

    This is some good advise. Teen dating is not what it use too be 🙁

  9. Cristina says:

    My 12 year old daughter has already been asked out twice by boys at school! I was proud of the way she handled it. She told them she she couldn’t go out with them because didn’t know them very well.

  10. JJ Caraway says:

    My children are grown and now I am getting prepared to have talks with my grandchildren, LOL. I feel it is very important to set rules and stick to them, also let them know you are always there for them no matter what. My parents taught us unconditional love and I am Blessed for this is just one of the many gifts they gave me. They are gone but still in my heart.

  11. lisa says:

    Been there! Long before that age it’s important to have rules but not have your child fear you. Let them know they can confide in you.There is a line between being a good parent and trying to be a friend. Be a parent that listens. If the relationship is good they’re more likely to bring dates in to meet you instead of sneaking around like I ALWAYS did.

  12. Holly Trudeau says:

    I think my dad instilled the fear of God everytime a boy came to pick me up for a date lol, he was a big man with alot of replica guys, every guy was petrified after leaving the house, weened out the wussy ones that way 😉

  13. aww.. it relates me a lot because i`m a teenager but.. honestly, i dont have a boyfriend because i`m focusing first to my studies <3

  14. She says:

    Parents should really start discussing this with there child at a very early age then it becomes less difficult with age. Don’t wait till they are 13 and talk about it, talk while they are young, don’t understand but still answer their questions. Sooner or later they grow, they put 2 and 2 together and it’s less of a headache. But every child grows at there own pace and it depends on the child when the time is right. It’s always hard to let go of moma’s kid..we all have had to.

  15. Sharon says:

    Very helpful tips for all the teens out there.

  16. DENISE SHOOK says:

    Group dating is the way to go. The groups have alot of fun together and when otjer friends are there it is just a better and more wholesome time. It is important to talk with teens and let them know what the rules are for dating. Making sure everyone is getting along and all parties are being respected too.

  17. Jeanine says:

    I don’t even want to think about my grand daughter dating yet! It’s going to come too soon!! But I know I need to set the rules up in advance. Thanks for the heads up!

  18. Lynnette Watkins says:

    I have a few years yet to tackle dating with my 10 yr daughter, but I agree with group dates first.

  19. Becky Davis says:

    The group date is how both of my kids started dating. They ended up having a better time in group dates for things like going to the movies, etc.

  20. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    You have some great tips here: first on group dates sounds the best

  21. Dorothy Boucher says:

    when my daughter started dating, it was done with me on the chair and them on the couch, they watched a movie and i watched him,,loll children want to start dating so young, please add me if you can i need followers @tisonlyme143 Thanks

  22. Huguette English says:

    Seems like they start dating early as each year goes by. The hardest part of their dating is the heartbreak that usually follows. It’s so though seeing your child with a broken heart.

  23. Tammy S says:

    I think you need to talk with your kids about what you expect from them. When my son started dating, we told him we expected him to treat girls they way he would like his sister treated. That worked really well. He has always treated them with respect.

  24. Vonnie says:

    Great post. And yes it can be like the old ways if we communicate with our children about our expectations and views of dating.

  25. Nicole Becker says:

    My 16 year old son has been dating the same girl for almost 2 years now. She is a very nice girl but I dont want him to be tied down. He is still young and needs to have fun!!

  26. Jenn says:

    I am having trouble with my 18 yr old and her dating habits and unfortunately because she is an adult she feels I have nothing to say about it. She is going to have to learn the hard way i am afraid

  27. Dawn Sterner says:

    We already went through this with our oldest daughter, who is 23 now and was pretty good about following our rules. Our son who is 17 is no problem at all because he’s more worried about sports, working out & his studies. Now our youngest daughter who is 9 (going on 16 lol) is going to be a problem! All I can say is I dread her teenage years! Lord help me! Thanks for the great tips 🙂

  28. Bobbie Gilliam says:

    I remember not going out on many dates, but hanging out with friends, that is what I am trying to do with my youngest, it worked for my oldest when he was away at college he went to a college that you had to date in a group, and I like that idea, less likely to have problems this way.

  29. Debra says:

    Thanks for the post – I REALLY am struggling with this right now! My 16 year old son literally BURIES himself into his relationships!! And every time the relationship ends, he is heartbroken 🙁 It’s a tough spot to be in!! I always thought if I SHOWED them with my actions that being alone is a good thing (I was a single mom for about 10 years) – then they would NOT chase relationships, but that is not always true. Teenage dating is just tough to predict. .

  30. Lisa R says:

    my daughter is 12 and i can’t believe some of the things I hear about what kids her age are doing. She has never really been alone the way i watch her like a hawk. I couldn’t believe I was the only parent that didn’t drop their child and leave….am I being too overprotective?

    sibabe64 at ptd dot net

  31. Laura Lane says:

    Our teens are 13 and 15. They know that there will be no dating until they are old enough to consider marriage.

  32. Janet says:

    You gave great advice. I have a teenager and so far she’s only been on group dates. I know the time is coming when she’ll go on a one-on-one date. I trust her. I hope I can trust the other person.

  33. MD Kennedy says:

    I guess I am old (although I’m not!) but dating in Middle School? When I was young noone started dating until High School (this was the 80s), and we didn’t have any pregnancies in our class. Maybe I am a prude as well? Just doesn’t seem right.

  34. Carla Bonesteel says:

    OK…here’s the situation. I think that we may tend to base our opinions on our teenagers lives, on how we acted at that age…I know, if I had a teenage daughter, and she was ANYTHING like me when I was a teen, I’d probably have to lock her in her room, until she was 25 or so….

  35. LinhC says:

    I’m so scared! Both of my daughters will be in high school next year.

  36. Maddie K. says:

    I like group dating and when my daughter was younger we encouraged her heavily to do this. She is a good kid though and though she was allowed to occasionally go out alone she never did anything (that we know of) that would go against the morals and values we taught her.

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