What is the proper age to allow a child to begin dating? As a parent of a teenage daughter, I have had the unpleasant debate more times than I could stand. I have also asked different parents and youth in the Fairfield/Suisun community this question and have yet to receive a clear answer.
I presume that it falls on the comfort level of the parent, if the parent is even involved in that decision.
Many parents are unaware that their child has a girlfriend or boyfriend or is involved with relationships at all. We are sometimes the last to know. Unfortunately, parents have to turn into a CSI or act as a private investigator to find out what’s going on with our youngsters. I do a walk-through or a shakedown in the kids’ rooms every now and then to get a clue.
You will be surprised how much you will learn about your child.
So assume you have a decent relationship with your child who is a teen, which means the 24-hour bad attitude disease has taken effect. Is the conversation about dating or male-female relationship even necessary? Absolutely!
I was once involved with an organization that taught life skills and sex education to middle school students. I immediately learned that sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were well-informed and most were involved in a relationship with the opposite sex to some degree. I also learned that most if not all of them kept these relationships hidden from their parents.
Why? They really believe parents are clueless when it comes to knowing what’s really going on in their social environment – and in most cases they are correct.
We are so preoccupied with the adult business of working, paying bills and managing the household that we have very little or no time to monitor the social lives of our children. We do find time to check the homework and make sure their grades are respectable, but there is not enough time in the day to find out who your child is spending time with during school, after school, on the cellphone or online.
Unfortunately, modern technology has given us even more to be concerned about with social media and the Internet.
We have no idea who our children could be communicating with if these things are not properly monitored. I know a parent who was shocked when she found out that her 13-year-old daughter had a boyfriend. What was even more disturbing, however, is that she discovered this through a social network, where she found pictures of her daughter and her boyfriend along with inappropriate language.
The social life of a child, according to most child development specialists, is most critical during the ages of 12 to 15, which is when they are the most impressionable. This is when our parenting skills need to be at their best.
Basically, this is the period where you will begin to learn what type of person your child is growing into. It is very critical that you inject a high dose of talks about the birds and the bees, morality and ethics.
Believe me, they are receiving a heavy dose of poor relationship information with the modern music industry and reality shows. So unless you trust the Kardashians with giving relationship advice to your child, I highly suggest you provide them with the flip side of what is appropriate and acceptable in a relationship at their age, and what is not.
You should constantly communicate with them, their dating partner and their dating partner’s parents about what your guidelines are with the relationship as far as your child is concerned. Be prepared for an emotional battle of resistance.
Deon D. Price is a youth life skills coach and freelance writer who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached at Deondprice@yahoo.com or follow www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.