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To Date or Not to Date

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.

Questions and Answers
Our 16-year-old daughter has started dating. How do we help her keep perspective and avoid trouble?Answer
My 16-year-old daughter wasn’t asked to the prom and she’s crushed. As a dad, what can I do to help build her up?Answer
Should we discourage our son from getting involved in a “summer romance”?Answer
My daughter and her boyfriend just laugh it off, but I am alarmed by the put-downs and insults they toss back and forth. Am I being too sensitive?Answer
Proms sure have changed since I was in school. I’m a little nervous about allowing my teenage daughter to go. What should I do?Answer
I really want my daughter to enjoy the Valentine season, but how can I help her see past the worldly exploitation of romance?Answer
Review answers to frequently asked questions or ask your own.
Giving Your Teens a Vision for SexThere’s more to abstinence than saying “no.”
If you’ve been through a difficult experience pertaining to this topic and found help and healing that might encourage others, we invite you to share your story.Share your story
Other Things to Consider
Do What I DoChildren learn by watching us live our lives. All the more reason to live honorably.