|Dating is a parental values issue and one that should be decided upon as early as possible before your teen hits adolescence. How you view dating and marriage will determine the expectations your teenager has when he goes to middle and high school. If a parent decides that his child won’t date until 16, then the child is being raised with the expectation that 16 is the magic number that will allow him to date. If, on the other hand, you as a parent don’t believe in dating and want your teen to pursue a friendship that could lead to courtship and marriage, your approach and messages will be very different. The key is to be consistent with your messages and expectations.If you decide you will allow your teenager to date, guidelines are very important. He should be encouraged to group date rather than go out alone. Group dating allows your teen to become friends first with his date. There are many resources and ideas for safe group dating. It also is important that your teen already be trained in situations that could occur in group dating or singular dating. Discuss possible situations before they occur and give your child specific statements about how to say “No!” Having a game plan is always better than letting things go to chance.
Excerpted from “Let’s Talk About Sex,” published by Focus on the Family. Copyright © 1998 Focus on the Family.