At what age should your kids be allowed to date?  It’s a question many parents wonder about.  Here are some of my reflections.

  1. The forbidding of “dating” until a certain age might actually miss the most important issue.  In a world of “hooking up,” “friends with benefits,” and sexting kids might be sexually active without dating.   They might be technically complying with your “no dating” rule, but in reality might be living a reckless lifestyle that jeopardizes their future and misses God’s best for their lives.
  2. Setting a rule about a specific dating age doesn’t mean it will be followed.  I know of several kids who secretly dated behind their parents’ backs — some for years.  These parents had a false sense of security, thinking that they were immune from dating concerns.
  3. Ask yourself: are your rules set for your own peace of mind or your kids’ best interest?
  4. What is it about reaching a particular age that makes kids automatically behave responsibly?  Are they unable to behave responsibly at 15 years 11 months, but instantly become wise and self-controlled on their sixteenth birthday?  Not likely.
  5. Does it communicate: “I won’t trust you at all when you’re 15, but I’ll trust you completely when you’re 16”?  Should that be so?
  6. Do all kids mature at the same rate?   If you’re going to make dating-age rules, shouldn’t they be customized according to the maturity, weaknesses, capabilities, and vulnerabilities of your kids?
  7. Laying down a rule is easy — it allows us to detach ourselves from the more difficult task of engaging our kids’ hearts.
  8. Rather than focus on rules about dating, might it not be better to have conversations with your kids about their feelings about their own sexuality, feelings toward the opposite sex, and their possible desire to date?
  9. One such conversation with them might be to talk about whether teenage dating is even a good idea.  Those of you who know me, know that I’ve blogged extensively about my concerns with teenage dating.  Whether they agree or not, my thoughts on “Friendationship”  might make a good conversation starter.
  10. Might such heart-to-heart conversations between parent and child do more to influence the child’s values and sexual choices than a seemingly arbitrary rule that he or she might find unreasonable?
  11. If you’re going to have a “rule” about dating, how about this one:  I’ll be happy to give you my blessing to date as soon as our conversations convince me why I don’t need to worry about your ability to resist temptation and make wise sexual choices.