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My first reaction was: Dating? But they seem so young! And of course, they are. But what is the appropriate age for teens to start dating? Is it different than when we were that age? Is This Okay? As parents, it can be hard to know where to set the limits. Is there an appropriate age to start dating? How do we initiate the conversation, and what are some of the topics we should be prepared to discuss? What age is appropriate for dating? No wonder parents get gray hairs and are so confused. As both a mother and a clinical psychologist, I too struggle with the correct response to this question.
There is no right answer. I personally think that 14 is a bit young to start dating, and that 16 seems more appropriate. But first, we need to educate our kids about dating. We need to teach them about loveliking, sexuality, and emotionality. We also need to teach them about sexuality and risk-taking.
Additionally, we need to be ready to set parameters and limits about when they must be home and how often they should check in with us when they are on dates. And, this applies to both our sons AND daughters. We must let them know that dating is complicated and that we are available to talk to them about the intricacies of dating. If we are uncomfortable talking to our kids about datingthen perhaps we need to deal with this before we allow them to date.
After all, we are responsible for both the hearts and souls of our developing children. In conclusion, there is no right age. Sixteen is not a magic age either unless you and your teen are ready to talk about the ins and outs of dating. Do you need more teen dating help?
Barbara Greenberg is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of teens, children, and families. She is the co-author of Teenage as What age can someone start dating Second Language. She writes and consults for several publications and frequently appears on TV. You can find her work on her website drbarbaragreenberg.
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Ask the Expert: What Age Should Teenagers Start Dating?