At what age do you let your children date?

I always thought that when I was 16 I would be able to date. It seemed like the magic number. After all, 16 is when I get my license to drive, 16 is when I have that huge sweet 16 birthday, and 16 is when most people are allowed to date, go to prom and the whole spiel. I witnessed enough of my friends having boyfriends at the tender age of 13, to know that once I turned 16 it was MY turn. Too bad my overbearing parents weren’t operating from the same book as I. When I turned 16 little had changed in my household. The sweet 16 party came and went. The license came, the car didn’t. But what was more disappointing is the day I gave the first boy EVER my phone number so he could call. I told my mom with much excitement and her response?

“Why in the world did you give him your phone number? He can’t call you.”

I remember sitting there, thinking to myself: WHATTTTTTTT????

She then went on to chastise me for even thinking that it was acceptable for me to give a guy my number, let alone consider actually dating. Of course I was caught by surprise. Never had I imagined that at 16, and a junior in high school, with a driver’s license, that I STILL wouldn’t be able to date.

And of course teenage rebellion set in.

I gave him my cell phone number and talked to him anyway.

And when my dad found out, he flipped. He took my phone, screamed at me, threatened to ground me for like 4 months, and then told me I was a bad daughter.

Years later when I thought about this awful experience, it dawned on me that my parents reaction to me wanting to talk to a boy on the phone at SIXTEEN was over the top and it wasn’t normal. But on the other hand, at 16 I wasn’t normal. What teenager is? I was emotional, a compulsive liar, and pretty naive to the minds of young boys.

So with this in mind, I’m wondering what age is the right age for dating? Apparently at 16 I wasn’t ready. At 18 I wasn’t ready(according to my parents). Meanwhile I had friends at the age of 13, 14, and 15 in serious long-term relationships, so obviously their parents didn’t feel the same as my parents about teenage dating.

Every parent is different. And every child is different. But being that MOST teenagers are crazy–how do you as a parent determine what age they should be allowed to date? And for those of you with younger children, when do you THINK that you would be “okay” with your children dating?

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