When should I let my teen start dating?

Real Mom Problem

“My daughter is 13 and I found out she has a boyfriend. I think she is too young. HELP!”

by fleffer fleffer

Quick Tips

  • 1. Moms have varying opinions about when it's OK for kids to start dating, from 13 to after high school
  • 2. "Dating" can have many definitions, from just talking at school to one-on-one dates
  • 3. Be clear with your teen about rules and boundaries
  • 4. Make decisions based on what feels right for you and your family

Real Mom Solutions

It seems like kids go from diapers to dating in no time! Check out this mom-to-mom advice about when it's ok for your child to start dating.

It Depends on Their Age

  • Num1PYT

    Everyone's different, but personally I decided my daughter can't have a boyfriend till she finishes high school. Call me old-fashioned but I want her to finish and excel, no distractions and no pregnancy. I know there's no 100% way to keep it from happening, but she will not have my approval until then.

  • hayleyanderson

    We allow boyfriends at 13, but no group dates until 14 and no one-on-one dates until 16.

  • MomsRule723

    I probably would let my son date now at 14 if he wanted to, but my daughter (she's 6) will wait until she's 15. I don't care if she does group things, but to go one-on-one with a boy, I think she will be 15.

  • Maryah02

    I think 15 or so is a good age to date with a chaperone.

  • brookemhowell

    Sixteen. From experience, the longer you wait to start dating the longer you wait to hold hands, kiss, and more.

It Depends on the Kid

  • xrs78

    It all depends, I think, on your child. My daughter talked to me about having a boyfriend in 7th grade. I freaked out! But we talked about it. Now she is in 9th grade and is 14. I'm still a bit freaked out but her boyfriend in the beginning of the year came up to me for permission to call her his girlfriend. He comes to dinner. We ALL go to movies together. She goes to his parents' and family's houses. I have spoken with his parents and the kids and there are strict rules. I'd rather know than be lied to.

  • momto3infl

    As long as grades and activities are still good, I wouldn't have an issue with my 13-year-old having a boyfriend.

  • bizzeemom2717

    If she is keeping up her grades and only seeing him at school, I don't think it's a big deal. My 8th grader had a "boyfriend" she only saw at school and at youth group for a few months. She's trustworthy and responsible though, so I guess it depends on the kid. I hate labeling any sort of "age." I know 18 year olds that are probably too immature to date!

It Depends on How You Define Dating

  • atlmom2

    For serious boyfriends or girlfriends, high school age at least -- and ONLY under strict supervision. I had a boyfriend for three years, when I was 13, 14, and 15. I would have died if my girls tried to do that. Luckily they were seniors before they had long-term boyfriends. The others didn't last more than a couple weeks.

  • Pooobaihr

    I think 13 is a good start at having a boyfriend. Not going out on dates (alone) and all that kind of stuff. But the cute puppy love kind of thing, like you taking them to the skating rink or bowling alley and staying there WITH them and their OTHER friends around, I think that is fine.

  • gingersnap30

    You need to determine what a date is. Is a date a bunch of kids going to a movie together, when some of the kids are of the opposite sex? Or is it a one-on-one thing where the two go off alone to "bond," creating a romantic relationship? Determine what dating means to your kid, then set the age based upon that. No one else can tell you what the right age is. That is a personal decision based upon your experiences, your daughter's maturity and goals, and your morals and ethics. No matter what age you choose, stick to it, but be open to listening to your daughter in the process, and don't be afraid to explain to her why you came to this decision.

  • angelh618

    My daughter is 14 and she got her first boyfriend when she was 13. I wasn't really thrilled about it and I made a real big deal about it and constantly monitored her. I realized that I made it more serious than it really was and was pushing them together more by making a big deal about it. As long as it is an innocent thing I don't think it is a big deal but definitely supervised if they want to go to the movies or something. My big thing is I would rather her feel like she could tell me things than sneak behind my back and do it anyway!

  • EpoxyLips

    I think that first the term "dating" must be defined. Kids at my child's school refer to "going out" and "dating" as crushes, relationships that never transcend seeing each other at school during regular hours and possibly light texting. However, that is NOT how most of us mothers would define "dating" -- seeing each other outside of school, movies, etc. If your child is "dating" in the first definition, I really see it as a natural thing. There WILL be crushes, there will be natural tendencies to couple up, and they WILL be short lived. Personally I would not issue an edict forbidding having a boyfriend. I believe forbidding it promotes an atmosphere that nixes honesty and communication. I also believe that having these early "relationships" can serve as learning experiences that can help prepare the child for the older, more classically defined "boyfriend." She's just learning to be friends with a boy. In the end, it is your and your husband's decision as to when your daughter can "date," in either sense. Trust your own experience and keep an open line and your family will be just fine!

  • nobcitymom

    Girls can have boyfriends without dating, can't they? Our oldest had a boyfriend when she was 15, but she was not allowed to go out with him or be alone with him. She could bring him over to our house, or go to his house if his parents were there, but she was always supervised. We cleared that with the boyfriend's parents, so they knew how we felt and agreed to it, too. I wasn't thrilled about her having a boyfriend, but honestly, how are you really going to stop it??

  • chunkyhoney78

    My boys had girlfriends at 13, but they never went out with them so it was just on the phone and at school, and they had to make honor roll.