Last week I saw a group of half a dozen kids about the same age as my 12-year-old twins in the park. They were paired off in couples, arms around each other, kissing frequently and making out openly in the afternoon sun. These middle school kids were behaving more like college freshmen, and it made me sad because I wondered what they’d be doing in another year or two to stir up the same sort of excitement they were already experiencing at such a young age.
When did you let your kids start dating? How did you make that decision? Was it based on the age that you started dating when you were younger, or maybe on the ages of your friends’ kids when they first started going out on dates? Did you just play it by ear and wait to see when your kids’ peers would start dating and then go along?
For now, my twins are not allowed to date, although I know a lot of kids their age, like those I saw in the park, already are. Here are some of my reasons for postponing dating, at least for now.
Anticipation is the best part
If you rush into everything as quickly as possible, what is there left to look forward to when you’re older? I know kids who started dating in middle school, and by high school, they were already bored.
The last thing I want for my kids is for them to be bored, and willing to up the ante in search of excitement when it comes to dating. There is plenty of time to date later in their teens. They can have fun in larger social groups for now and keep anticipating the excitement they’ll have dating in a few years.
Dating invites bullying
Kids who were never bullied before may suddenly find themselves victims when they enter the dating world. There are so many emotions that accompany dating, and not all of them are sweet. Jealousy, heartbreak, anger and depression can all be brought on by a variety of dating scenarios. These negative emotions can cause kids to do some pretty awful things to one another.
Broken hearts stink
Once you do start dating, it’s only a matter of time until you get your heart broken or break someone else’s, and those are not great feelings to experience. Postponing dating beyond the middle school years allows kids to grow and mature emotionally so that they are better able to handle the effects that dating and breaking up will have.
Temptations can wait
Finally, and most importantly, I hope to instill the values of purity and self-respect in my kids before they ever enter the dating world. If they start dating as soon as they enter puberty, they’ll have a hard time really internalizing those lessons before they are thrown into real world situations they might not be ready to handle.
By taking our time, and letting them get a little older before they start dating, they’ll have more time to decide, hopefully, that the values we’ve tried to raise them with are more important than the short term gratification they might get from compromising those values. By postponing dating until they are older, the temptations they will inevitably face can wait, too, until they are more mature and able to make responsible decisions.
More by Tavia:
Why Your Daughter May Be Depressed
Would your daughter hurt herself to keep a boyfriend?
Is Your Teen Being Pressured to Have a Baby?