5 Questions To Ask to Know Whether Your Teen is Ready to DateBy Child Safety Specialist Sep 15, 2010 | 10:30:00 amPosted in: Child Safety
I always ask parents whether they consider the newborn years or the teen years more difficult. It’s definitely a toss-up. I have many friends who are in the midst of the “teen drama” right now or have successfully made it through to “the other side” and all have some pretty interesting stories. But, most of them conclude that their kids have grown into terrific young adults.
It seems, however, that the issues we faced as teens when we were growing up are now things that ‘tweens’ and even younger children are dealing with. I was pretty shocked the other day to learn from my friend that her 6th grade son has had a girlfriend for the past two years! I’m sure this is, in no small part, due to society and media. Many of the TV shows now such as Zoey 101, Hannah Montanna and Witches of Waverly Place, which cater to this audience, have themes about dating and relationships. And we’re constantly bombarded with news out of Hollywood of who just broke up or hooked up.
So is there a magic age when your kids are ready to date? As most child psychologists will tell you, each child is different in their level of maturity and responsibility so it’s an individual choice. But here are a few things to consider:
• Have you had “the talk”? – This isn’t just about sex but also about understanding of relationships and dating in general. Ask her to describe what having a boyfriend and dating means to her. Does she understand that relationships involve mutual respect?
• And yes, it’s also about sex! – Don’t assume she’s too young to know the basic facts about sex. If you’re not telling her she’s learning from someone else and there’s a good chance she misinformed.
• Do you have an open relationship? – Is she honest with you about where she goes and who she is with? Do you know her friends and, more importantly, do you like them? Chances are the person she wants to date is associated with them.
• Does she respect your rules? – Will she stick to curfews, call if she’s going somewhere other than planned and tell you whom she’s with?
• Does your child have self-confidence and strong self-esteem? – This is probably the single most important factor. If your child is insecure and influenced by peer pressure she is more likely to get involved in a situation that she is not emotionally ready for.
As my mother used to say, at some point you need to let them spread their wings and trust that you’ve taught them to fly right!
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