Sooner or later, all teens want to start dating.
Parents often question when to allow it.
Beginning in seventh grade, Suzanne Taylor of Lee’s Summit permitted her son to attend chaperoned boy/girl parties, but she doesn’t consider that dating. “If he and the girl made plans to go together, then I consider that a date.”
Dating is one of those situations where older is always better, says Michelle Cronk of Kansas City, North, who has a 17- and 13-year-old. As a freshman, her son was allowed to go out in a group, but one-on-one dating didn’t begin until he could drive.
“Dating is something that should be taken seriously,” she says, “and if you start at too young of an age, you just aren’t ready.”
Jeff Langford of Liberty believes readiness hinges more on maturity than age. His sons gradually waded into dating by going out in groups.
“This is pretty common in the middle grades and gives kids a low-key way to get to know each other,” says the father of three.
Fifteen is generally the age when Shari Fox and her husband have permitted their children to group date. But even then, many boys are not mature enough to carry on a conversation with a girl, she says.
“If I thought I could get away with it, I would probably set a ban on dating until they graduate from high school.”
The Kansas City mom of four, ages 22 to 7, says curfews remain the same whether on group dates or hanging out with the guys.
“We have relied on the age-old mantra that nothing good happens after midnight, so as a senior in high school, our son would have a 1 a.m. curfew for group situations, but definitely a midnight curfew for single dates.”
Allison Clemens of Kansas City, North, who has a 14-year-old son, hasn’t crossed the dating bridge yet, but agrees that 15 may be a good age to start going in groups. “They have experienced a bit of high school at this time, still not able to drive and be alone on dates, so there would still need to be some parent supervision at this point.”
The media, social pressures and even casual use of the term boyfriend/girlfriend by adults have nudged kids to start dating younger and younger, believes Ginnette Baker of Lee’s Summit. Both of her teens, 18 and 13, went through the girlfriend/boyfriend stage.
“I didn’t make a big deal of it and they both grew out of it.”
When she sees parents drop off their child with a date at the movies, Baker thinks, “If you’re going and need someone to take you, I get to go, too.” She laughs, “But I have never gotten a chance to use that line, yet.”
Keith Hageman of Lee’s Summit has. The father of two accompanied his daughter, when she was 13, on her first date to the movies. Unchaperoned dating won’t be allowed until 16 with the stipulation that dates cannot be more than one grade older or younger.
He has additional expectations too. Dates will need to be picked up at the door. They will need to share their plans, adhere to a curfew, and keep their cellphone on.
“The expectations that I am placing on any boy that would like to date my daughter … will also be the expectations I have for my son when he is dating.”
Patty Dimarco of Raymore, mother of a 14-year-old and 12-year-old twins, thinks even group dating shouldn’t begin until the freshman year.
“I feel they are not ready for a serious relationship … and they have more of a chance of making bad choices that would affect their future.”