As a parent, nothing is more precious than watching your child play, learn, and grow. However, the task of parenting doesn’t come without its own perils, and it becomes even more daunting when your precocious children reach adolescence.
As children grow up, they become curious, they want to explore, and most importantly, they want to date other people. With the media constantly glorifying teenage romances and love, it is only natural that this desire crops up at an even earlier age, much to many a parent’s displeasures. So if you are a parent wondering how to navigate this experience, here are a few tips to help you ease into the world of teenage dating.
The Right Age
There is no fixed age for when a child should be allowed to date. It depends mostly on the child’s maturity, their peers and how much you trust them. While one ambitious parent claimed she had told her 9-year-old that 20 was the dating age, no one really believes that is a feasible option.
Traditionally 14-15 year olds are mature enough to understand social cues and the norms that go along with it. In fact, research suggests 16-17 year olds are just as aware as 18-19 year olds, so it doesn’t really make sense to limit your child. If you expect your kid to vote and choose a career path at 18, surely, they can choose whom to go out with before that. Click here to find out more about dating.
Be Open With Them
Openness and honesty is the key to dealing with a young near-adult. Be frank with them about dating, sex, and everything in-between. Only if they understand something, can they successfully recognize when they are being manipulated?
Try not restrict their freedom in an effort to control actions. That never works. Odds are they are going to do it anyway, only behind your back. Give them the room to make mistakes. As long as they know they can come to you when they are in trouble it will be okay.
Ease Them Into It
Some parents have found the idea of group dates are good ways to ease into the life of one-on-one dating. Dates as pre-teens are often nothing more than group activities and bonding, a peer-chaperoned way to get to know the other person.
As they grow older, they will already have an idea about what single dates can entail. Also, if something is not forbidden, the allure of rushing into it diminishes somewhat making it a safer experience.
Set Boundaries, But Don’t Be Unreasonable To Them
Going back to the example of one mother claiming she won’t allow her daughter to date before 20 – that is ridiculous and it serves as a perfect example of what you should not do. If you feel a boundary is fair but your child thinks it isn’t, talk to them and agree on a compromise.
Don’t just assume the role of a dictator because you are the parent. Sure, it is your job to look out for your kid, but you must also trust that your child has a mind of their own and can handle themselves.
Recognize That Your Child Is An Autonomous Person
Your child is their own being, not an extension of you. Remember that. While you may always have your child’s safety in mind, recognize that living in a bubble is not something anybody wants. Offer support, honesty, and security, but also allow your child to grow into themselves outside of you. Your child is a person, with their own wants, ideas, and desires. As long as you respect that, you should have few problems.