Is Your Teen Ready to Date? is not a sponsored post.
Home Grown Families is a strong component of waiting until your child is in their late teen years to date. We believe, and research has proven, that kid’s brains are not physically able to make decisions with the proper understanding of consequences until they are in their 20′s. However, whatever age you decide is right for your child, it is SO IMPORTANT that you don’t just send them into the dating world unprepared.
Mike Domitrz is a speaker, author and the Executive Director at The Date Safe Project, Inc. He was in college when he found out his sister was raped and went into debt trying to educate the world about sexual abuse. Now, Domitrz travels the world, speaking about consent and the rights of men and women. His “Can I Kiss You” program has reached millions of people worldwide. but it’s not about the amount of speeches – it’s about the lives he can touch and the promise he made to his sister.
Whether or not you agree with everything Mike says, take a minute to read this article and visit his site. What you read may save your child’s life.
Is Your Teen Ready To Date?
Moms and Dads often struggle with deciding what age is best for your teenager to date. Research shows that the earlier a child begins dating, the higher risk that child is at for pregnancy, STIs, STDs, and an unhealthy understanding of relationships and intimacy.
For parents who think, “My child dating at 13 is harmless and innocent,” keep in mind that students in middle school around the country continuously share with us that dating is NOT innocent. 12 – 15 year olds are having feelings of wanting to be intimate which is why they want to DATE. If the feelings were innocent and not related to sexual attraction, the two would enjoy a wonderful friendship and have not urge to date each other.
What is LEGAL?
Every state has a legal age of consent. When you ask a preteen or teenager, “What is the difference between a good friend and someone you want to date?”, the child will tell you, “You don’t want to KISS your good friend. You DO want to kiss your date.” Those same students often admit intimacy beyond a kiss is AT LEAST intriguing if not wanted. Thus, young children dating are thinking of engaging in sexual intimacy.
Why would a parent let a child date who wants to be sexually intimate at an age that is illegal? Why would a parent enable a child to be in situation that is likely to involve nonconsensual sexual contact? Find out your state’s age of consent and start with that age as being your MINIMUM age for beginning to date.
They Are GOING TO DO IT
A few parents believe, “If I forbid, they are going to do it anyways and so I’d rather they be upfront about it.” That is much less likely to be true if you are having these conversations with your children throughout their growing up and not only when they are approaching their teen years.
Build an understanding throughout your children’s years of growing up about what dating is, can mean, and why waiting is worth it.
After all, you don’t want to parent from a place of fear and worst case assumptions such as “They are going to do it anyways.”
1 – 10, What Are You?
Ask your teen what he/she rates his/her self on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is the lowest person one can be and 10 is the best person one can be). Next, have your child ask why he/she gave the score shared with you. If they say anything below a “10,” ask why your child didn’t score him/her self a “10.” Typical scores are 5 to 8 on average. If your child did score his/her self a “10,” ask why.
Now, ask what number of a person your child wants to date. Almost every child says a “9” or a “10.” What is the danger of a child wanting to date someone they view as being “better” or “more special”? The dating partner who they think is more special than them will have control over the relationship. A “7” is likely to do whatever he/she thinks needs to be done to stay with a “10” (including sexual acts sometimes).
Help your child discover why every person is a “10” – a valuable, special, amazing person. A “10” is not perfect. A “10” is someone who is a gift to the world is trying to be the best person possible. As parent, you know your child is a “10” and deserves to date a “10.”
WHO Will They Tell?
After a date, WHO will your teen be comfortable telling about what happened on the date? If your child doesn’t want to tell you what happened, why? Many teens tell us they don’t like telling their parents because they know they are making choices they are not proud of.
Encourage your child to wait to date until he/she is very comfortable with being a strong and confident person who honors boundaries and personal standards. Doing so will lead to a child being proud of his/her choices and comfortable sharing with you.
Give It a Chance
As I speak in schools around the country, a few moms and dads have shared, “I’m never letting my child to date until he/she is at least 18.” This is not a good approach. Why? Would you rather have a positive voice in your child learning healthy relationships during high school or would you rather your child’s college roommate have the greatest impact on her/his understanding of intimacy and partnerships?
By a child dating in high school (IF he/she wants to and feels comfortable doing so once he/she is the legal age of consent), you have an awesome opportunity to be present in your child’s understanding of healthy relationships and sexual decision-making (from abstinence to comprehensive sex ed).