Tags: In This Issue, Tweens & Teens
Many of us can relate to Deanna, mom of three girls (one a teen), when she said, "Dating? Not my babies!"
Many parents take the issue of teen dating on a case-by-case basis because every kid is different. Some are more mature at age 15, while some may not be ready for a first date until age 19.
"We don't have a set age yet for dating, and our oldest is 14. I think a numerical age is way too hard to pinpoint because of different maturity levels. I do see being a responsible driver as somewhat related to being able to handle dating," said Wendy Budetti, mom of five.
Some parents see dating as a means to finding a spouse, so why start so early? Instead, group dating might be encouraged. Mall dates are a great place to start when kids are in junior high. Kids can meet up to walk around, shop, hit the food court and maybe see a movie. Some parents will stay and sit at the back of the theatre with an eagle eye while some do the drop-off thing.
House dates are a next step for teens (or parents!) who may not be quite ready for one-on-one dating yet. Tonya of Clarksville, Ind. said, "My daughter is 17 and for the last year or so I have allowed her to have a boy come over and watch a movie or play a board game as long as I am home, and her room is off limits!"
Sean Covey's book, "The Six Most Important Decisions You Will Ever Make: A Guide for Teens" talks about teens being ready to date and knowing the difference between "intelligent" and "brainless" dating. Intelligent dating is not making decisions based on hormones, popularity, money and what the crowd is doing. Brainless dating is the opposite.
When you feel your teen is ready for one-on-one dating, keep these pointers in mind:
1. Try to model healthy romantic relationships at home. Talk to your child about dating and how it's not always like the media portray it, how some of the very best dates are free and to be realistic about how a date might play out.
2. Talk to your teen about what a good relationship is, like how the other person should never push, hit or degrade your teen, shouldn't pressure your teen into doing things he or she knows they shouldn't be doing. In essence, make sure they know how they want to be treated.
4. Teen dating is about meeting many different kinds of people to find out what they eventually might like in a life partner, so don't flip out if your teen brings a guy home who you don't love. Chances are this will not be your future son-in-law.
4. Talk to your teen about being himself and not turning into a chameleon to please a potential date.
5. Let your teen know he or she can always come to you with questions. Don't be afraid to tell about your own best and worst dates and mistakes you've made while dating. Everybody has bad judgment sometimes, so let your teen know you understand that and you are willing to come pick him or her up at any time of the night if a bad situation arises.
Kim of Indianapolis put it well when she said, "I think the best thing you can do is set the rules and guidelines for your daughter or son and do not let society set them. It's called: you have to parent them, not be their friend, and not be their matchmaker."
Kerrie McLoughlin (TheKerrieShow.com) is "that" mom of five who will greet potential dates with a running chainsaw.