When Should Kids Be Allowed To Go Dating?

This topic is one that will elicit different answers depending on the background, educational levels and age of the parents.   Most opinions regarding whether or not, or when to date is largely influenced by the cultural backgrounds of the parents.  In the western world parents are usually more likely to be open to the idea of dating than the parents from the eastern world. My views are primarily influenced by my strict upbringing and my spiritual convictions.

I view dating as a precursor to marriage, this is how one gets to interact on a closer level with a potential mate.  If this is the intent, I think dating is a necessary part of socialization, a young man gets a chance to practice the things that they have learned about how to treat girls, and on the other hand girls have an opportunity to figure out what types of guys they would want to marry based on how they are treated their dates.   It seems however that dating and its definition have been changed today, and is not used for the purpose for which it was intended.  I spoke to my 13 year old son about who he would date and why, throughout the conversation he emphasized that young people these days don’t date with the intent to marry, they just date for fun, and not necessarily with marriage in sight.  I was disappointed to hear that; why would one date someone you would not think of marrying, that does not make sense to me.  I hope he was just telling that to me to see my reaction.

What age should you as a parent allow dating, and how far do you allow your kids to go, plus what qualifies as “dating”?  This is one of the toughest question for parents today, especially since kids are wanting to have experiences earlier and earlier.  I have seen kids in my neighborhood going to movies together as a couple at 13 years old.  Is this too young?  I think it is.  I think interaction between the sexes at this age should be done in a group, there is less opportunity for inappropriate behavior to occur in such setting.   The parents who allow their kids to go out together at this early age risk the possibility of their kids engaging in activities for which they are not emotionally and physically ready.  Maybe they have forgotten how as teenagers their harmones were raging.  In my opinion, 16 years old is the age that dating can be allowed, but still with lots of guidance and restrictions.   Even though they are allowed to date, late nights out and being alone for extended periods is dangerous and should be discouraged.  I am afraid of these years, I am definitely not looking forward to it, I have 3 years to prepare, and I hope I will be prepared enough to deal with all the issues that may arise.

Whatever the age you think is ok, make sure you communicate this, plus your values and expectations to your kids.  Don’t wait to address situations as they occur, then it is too late.  Keep the line of communications open always.








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