Parenting tweens and teens has changed over the past few decades. Parenting tweens and teens means having to face the tough issues – issues such as drugs, alcohol and sex. Sex is becoming more and more frequent among society’s youth. The difficulties arise when deciding if and when to let your child date and establishing boundaries. The thought of becoming a grandparent before their child even reaches high school is a frightening thought, but it happens quite often. Today is a day of being prepared for the worst while still expecting the best.
When is it too soon for your child to start dating? After all, many tweens consider “going out” to be simply the boyfriend/girlfriend status. They hold hands behind the teacher’s back and sneak little kisses in the hallway. Is this too much for a child of twelve? Too much for a child of thirteen or fourteen? From a personal standpoint, as the parent of a sixteen year old boy who has had a girlfriend for almost three years, I do not think he is too young. The girl’s parents, on the other hand, feel differently. Who is wrong in this situation? Our children do not go anywhere together, do not see each other outside of school. Are they too young to be “dating”? Will it only lead to sex?
That leads to the next question: How young is too young for sex? Again, as a mother of a sixteen year old boy, I think he is still too young for sex. My biggest fear is that he will have unprotected sex resulting in a pregnancy before he graduates high school. Should I, then, forbid him to have a girlfriend? I do not think so – I am of the mindset that the more I say no, the more he will do it. I try to keep an open relationship with my son, encouraging him to speak to me about sex, girls, friends, and any other issues. I would much rather he get his information from me than someone else. That said, I know boys that were active at twelve and thirteen years old! How young is too young? If a youth is armed with knowledge and uses that knowledge wisely, is it okay for them to have sex and/or experiment with sexual activity?
Deciding when your child can date, to me, depends on the child’s maturity. It also depends on what the “dating” consists of, as far as actually going out and being unsupervised. I, for one, would allow my son to be with his girlfriend in unsupervised situations – as long as the situations were within reason. I’m not one of those parents that allows overnight visits of the opposite sex past the age of puberty. As far as sexual activity, I can only hope that I am educating him enough that he will use his best judgment. He knows the risks of unprotected sex. I hope that is enough to keep his hormones in check or, at the very least, ensure that he uses the utmost caution.
When is a tween or teen too young to date? At what age should they be allowed to date? How young is too young for sex? Those are the questions that plague me as a parent. With each passing day, I hope that I am raising my son “the right way” and that he makes good decisions.