I am a feminist. Right off the bat I feel this sinking pit in my stomach because I feel I need to preface this post with that. As I was growing up and as I became a mother, I have heard time and time again jokes about how dad’s wouldn’t allow their daughters to date until they’re 30. My own father used to do this. At least with my family I knew it was a joke but at the same time what does that joke say about girls, their power, and their ability to decide for themselves.
What does this say about boys? Are they unable to get respect and trust? Are girls weak and unable to take care of themselves? That’s what these jokes tend to portray.
If we want to teach equality, we need to give credit to both boys and girls. This means, despite feeling a need to protect your daughter, despite being unsure about the boy she brings home, despite the concern you have about her being hurt, let her date.
When I was a teenager my parents did not let me date until I was 16. Now this was, going out on a date alone with a boy until I was 16. Technically I had “boyfriends” before this point, but they were the junior high crush, held hands in school, never really saw each other outside of school kind of “dating.”
How does dating teach our teenagers and help them grow?
I believe this 16-year-old age limit to be perfect for allowing teens to date. There’s a huge difference in terms of maturity, life lessons learned, and life experiences between 14-15 & 16 years.
Dating as a teenager is important for their emotional growth. As we date, we learn what we want, what we do not want, what is appropriate relationship behavior and what isn’t. Our children may go through bad relationships and then great relationships, they’ll go through heartbreak, but this is important for their emotional growth.
Before your teen starts dating
Really, probably before dating is really even on their mind, have the sex talk. Be clear and concise with your pre-teen and teen. Tell them honestly what it means to have sex. Tell them what happens and what can happen. Teach them about consent and being able to say no. Do all of this while using the true names for parts. Do not use words like “vajayjay” or “member” but actually say “penis” and “vagina.” Teach them about protection and give them what they need (this means birth control and condoms). It’s better to be safe and open with them then to be sorry later.
Safety Rules for Your Teen
There are important factors you should keep an eye on while your teen is dating. There are definitely limits you should set and you as a parent should stay involved.
- Get to know who your teen is dating.
- Teach them dating without a chaperone is a privilege.
- Keep clear guidelines and rules for online relationships.
- Set a curfew and make sure they stick to it.
- Set age limits.
- Discuss technology and internet dangers.
Speak up if you suspect your teen is in an abusive relationship.
Understand that the feelings your teen is feeling should not be minimalized. What you may call or believe is just “puppy love” is still true. It still means feeling butterflies, it means heartache when it ends.
How should you help your teen through a break up?
Be empathetic and compassionate. Be an ear for them to talk to when they feel like talking. Help them wallow but then help them get back up, move forward, and move on. Break ups are a part of life and they’re important to go through and understand. They are also important to our emotional growth and strength.
Did you date when you were a teenager? Tell me about your experience. How and what did you learn from the experience?