The other night I got a text from my daughter, “Mom, ——– asked me out.”
Are there any more dreaded words to hear from your child? You know that it will be an issue eventually, but it feels like it sneaks up on you. You are immediately transported back to a simpler time when your biggest concern was “When is this child gonna use the potty?”
My husband and I have tried to be as prepared as we can for our kids to reach dating age. We’ve sought advice from those who have gone before. We’ve tried to think back to our own lives and remember the pressure. Really once you reflect back on school, that pretty much makes the decision for you, right? I think everyone has that one person that they remember and say “Man, I would have done things differently there“.
I’ve been looking at different psychologist opinions on teen dating. Psychologist Susan Moore (Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Swinburne University of Technology) says,”Young people can become too exclusive when they pair up, cutting themselves off from friendship and support networks in ways that do not advance optimal development.”
I know this was absolutely the case for me in high school.
It’s hard for me to argue against her on that point. Other research shows that the ‘executive functioning’ area of the brain – the pre-frontal cortex – fully matures usually sometime in their twenties. It’s hard for me to trust my kids to make non-impulsive decisions if their brain isn’t even fully mature.
So, we’ve adopted some specific rules when it comes to dating in order to remove the guesswork. We are allowing our kids to go on group dates starting at the age of 16, but no one-on-one dating until the age of 18.
If the point of dating is to prepare you for marriage, why does my kid need to date 15 people when they aren’t even old enough to legally get married?
I know not everyone agrees with this and it’s not my aim to convince you otherwise. My aim is to simply give you another perspective.
I’m also not so naive to think that my kids are going to be super excited about following these rules when they’re in the throws of their teenage years.
That’s why we’ve tried to implement this far enough in advance so that we aren’t scrambling when the time comes. We set the dating expectation about 6 months ago and had a conversation with our two oldest kids, who are 12 and 10, at that time. The hope is that they accept that this is the rule and it will just be fact when they’re teenagers.
I know that peer pressure is crazy in high school though. So in addition to the dating restriction, we’ve also set an expectation that each of our kids must be involved in some type of group sport or activity throughout their time in school. My hope is that the extra curricular activities coupled with a strong support system at home and church will keep their love tank full until they’re allowed to date.