Dating-How Young Is Too Young?

It used to be that dating was something you were only allowed to do once you hit a certain age. For me and most of my friends, it was about sixteen. It wasn't really a problem for me since sixteen was the middle of my 'awkward stage' and no guy would look at me twice, but other people's parents had to set some rules. No boys in the house when no one's home. Only go out in a group and in public. No one who's more than two years older. Be home by ten. The parents were trying to make sure their kids wouldn't get into a situation they couldn't handle.

I'll bet you're reading this because you want to do the same thing-protect your child from getting in over their head. You could say that ages are arbitrary and it's more about maturity level, but how do you know if your child has reached that level? How young is too young to date? When I say 'dating', I'm not really talking about 'I like you, do you like me, check yes or no' on the playground so much as 'I'll pick you up in my car and we'll go to a movie'. There is a big difference. Each child (and each child's potential date) is different, but here are some things to consider.

  • Have you talked to him about 'big' things such as drugs, drinking and sex? If not, you need to. If so, does he understand the implications his actions have? Part of growing up and maturing is understanding that there are consequences to our actions and making decisions for ourselves.
  • Does your child show good judgement? Is she confident enough to say 'no' to negative peer pressure, or does she 'go along to get along'? Someone who is easily pressured into doing the wrong things by her friends may be that much more vulnerable when it comes to the opposite sex. This is especially true when it comes to things like sex. She needs to be able to say 'no'.
  • Is he mature in other ways, such as doing chores without being asked or keeping up on homework? It's hard to trust someone with 'heavy' things such as dating if they can't handle the 'light' stuff.
  • Can you trust your child? Does your child lie to you, or does she do what she says she'll do? This is a big key. I won't pretend I never lied to my parents, but my parents trusted me more than they did my sister because I proved to them that they could trust me by my actions.
The bottom line is that there is no 'magic age' when someone is automatically ready to date. You have to know your child and use your own judgement. Impress upon her the importance of sticking to the morals and values you have taught her, and make your expectations clear. Give trust as trust is earned. Above all, keep the lines of communication open. Dating is a big deal, so your child will need to know he can come to you if he needs to. Good luck and don't worry, you're going to be alright.


  1. Thanks! I've been wondering if my son should be allowed to go on dates...this helped a lot. He's a smart kid and doesn't get into trouble, so I'm not as worried about him.

  2. I agree the biggest thing is you have to gauge it based on who your child is and their track record so far.

  3. 15 is too young. At 16 I'll access whether my daughter is ready.

  4. I was thinking 16 but like I said in that other comment, my daughter seems too preoccupied with school right now so I don't even know if she will want to. I'm kinda of glad. Guys in high school aren't really worth worrying about at all.

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