What is it the appropriate age to date?

I grew up in a strict Laotian household. My parents did not allow us girls to date for several reasons. One of their best argument against dating is: people will gossip about you and think you are a slut if you have a boyfriend. When we would roll our eyes at my mom, she would asked, ” Do you want people to gossip about you?” We knew she was not expecting or wanting an answer, but we fired back anyway with, ” Who cares? They don’t have anything to do with our lives!They don’t pay our bills or pay for our food or clothes!” Of course our mom, the all powerful and knowing deity as we fondly nicknamed her, would be ready for us. Usually this means threats of more restrictions as if there was not enough already! I kid you not, my mom’s household rules is like the Code of Hammurabi! For example, if you talk back, one slap for you. Sometimes I wonder if she is related to him!

Now that I am a parent, I can understand why she was so strict when it came to boys and dating. Back then I considered her as an extremist because she did not allow us to have any kind of relationship with boys. However, now as a mother of two kids, one a girl who is fixing to turn 15 on February 27th, I have to determine my own rules for my kids. Actually, I had to think about what I was going to say to my daughter about boys and dating sooner than I was ready because of things she was telling me her friends and school buddies were doing at the middle school. Many of her friends and classmates were already dating and getting physical with boys. While I was happy that she was willing to share and talk about this issue, I was nervous about what my response to her question, “When will I be able to date?” What I didn’t know at that time was she was testing me and see what I would say. I told her, ” When you are sixteen you will be able to date which means go to the movies, events, or dinner but nothing serious. I would prefer that you not have a boyfriend until you get to know yourself better and figure out what kind of person you want in your life.There’s nothing wrong with talking to boys or thinking they are cute but I don’t want you to get so wrapped up in a boy to the exclusion of everyone or everything else.” Before I could continue, she interrupted me and said, ” Don’t worry mommy, I consider dating at my age stupid because we are not even old enough to drive or even hang out at night because of the curfew. Besides, I was just testing you to see what you would say.”

My daughter is a freshmen in high school. Since she goes to the same school where I teach, I can keep an eye on her but I don’t. I leave her alone and let her do her own thing. At first she was worried that I would follow her around and even asked if I was going to stalk her in which I responded, ” Hell, no! I’m too busy teaching and besides I’m to lazy to be hunting you down!”

So the questions is, when is the appropriate age to date? In my opinion, you as a parent knows the answer to that. You know your child better than anyone else. Are they ready to be in a relationship? Are they confident and self-assured enough to not give in to peer pressure?

I keep my daughter busy with Band, FIRST robotics, and Student Council so she is too tired to do anything else. At this moment, she is not interested in having a boyfriend yet even though two guys had asked her out. She politely tells them she is not interested in dating.

As a parent it is okay that we tell our kids to wait until they get older to date, until they get to know themselves and has a chance to do whatever they want before sharing their lives with another person.

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