I’ve talked with a lot of parents and opinions on dating or courting vary widely across the spectrum. Some families take a more conservative approach and other families are more laid back in regards to the subject.
My oldest child is almost 16 and I will tell you that she arrived at that age seemingly overnight. It doesn’t seem like that long ago I was arguing with my parents about dating. Now my daughters are arguing with me! I say this because I think it’s important to start thinking about teenage topics and issues before your children become teens.
At what age will you allow your child to date? At what age will you allow your child to go on car dates? At what age will he or she be allowed to date with or without a chaperone? Do you even believe that a chaperone should be present during an outing? These are important questions to consider.
Not only should you answer the questions, but you should be able to explain why. When I was a teen the answer was-because I am your parent that is why. I want something a little more concrete though for my own children. Because of that, I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking in preparation for the inevitable. The inevitable has now happened-my one child has asked if she can start to date.
There are an incredible amount of information out there written on dating! Before buying a book or surfing the net to look for information, you should consider your personal value system. For example, I’m pretty conservative in my parenting style and therefore, I looked for books or resources created by parents with a similar parenting style to my own. My husband and I talked about our beliefs and values and created what we felt was a sensible dating plan for our daughter.
Realize too that what is appropriate for one child may not be appropriate for another child at the same age even if they are siblings. I know of one mom who let her one son go on a date at 14. However, she didn’t feel that her older son, who was 15, was mature enough to go out on a date. She sat down with both boys and explained her logic and reasons. The 15 year old was not happy, but he understood that she had thought through her decision at great length. She wasn’t playing favorites or “being mean”. She was trying to do what was right for both of them.
During the past few years, my children and I have had quite a few conversations about dating, mostly because I began dating about 5 years ago after my divorce. I re-married 3 years ago. Dating as an adult when you have children is another post topic all together, but suffice it to say that my dating experiences opened the way for some honest conversation between the kids and I. Of course, I gave them kid friendly answers which were age appropriate!
When I was young, we weren’t allowed to date until we were 18. Basically, this meant that I had my first date when I was in college and it also meant that my family wasn’t around me to advise or help me through the whole process. I ended up marrying my ex, who was very abusive and controlling. I want better for my children. I want them to have some experience dating with some boundaries in a safe environment. Because of that, I’ve decided that my daughters will need chaperones at this time.
The father of my daughter’s love interest is like minded. And so, on her first date with “T”, his father, my husband, and I will be present. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?