The dreaded day is here, and much sooner than you had planned for… your daughter is telling you she wants to date. As children become teens, many parents wonder if they should let their 13-year-old daughter date.
If she’s pitching this idea, she may already have a boy in mind, and could possibly already have a “boyfriend,” and is just hoping to get your approval. When your daughter turned 13, you knew that things would change.
Whether or not you allow your thirteen-year-old to date is a decision that is between you and your child’s other guardian if they have one. It’s a conversation that should be taken seriously and with reasoning.
When it comes to dating, there are many different angles to look at. Ultimately, there isn’t a “correct” answer when it comes to when to let your daughter date. It just depends on your families’ values and rules.
Harm Reduction Is Key!
Let’s be honest- you may tell your teenage daughter that she can’t have a boyfriend, but if she decides to proceed anyway, there is nothing you can physically do about it.
You can’t prevent your teen from developing feelings for a boy her age, and you can’t supervise her every move at school or after-school clubs. If your teen really wants a boyfriend, she will have one in secrecy and you may never find out about it.
It is important whether or not you have a “no dating” rule to have important conversations about dating with your teen once they begin to show an interest.
It is never too early to educate them on important topics like dating violence and sexual assault. By having these important conversations, you are giving your child the ability to recognize safe and healthy relationships.
You are also building up trust with your child. They will remember the conversation and be more likely to confide in you if something does go wrong. Although you may not be thrilled about the idea of your thirteen-year-old daughter beginning to date, talking to her about it will be setting her up for success.
Trying to decide if you should let your 13-year-old daughter date comes down to how you approach this situation.
It’s My House, I Make The Rules!
If you really don’t want your teen dating. What can you do?
You could threaten them with consequences and sift through their phone for proof of your suspicions, sure. Is that the most productive method, though?
Results will show that oftentimes this almost “drill sergeant” approach is not effective, but it can actually send your child running in the opposite direction.
Your child may start to develop a sense of secrecy to avoid lectures and punishments. They may think that your rules are unjustified and they feel suffocated by the weight of the constant surveillance and accusations.
This is why it is important to approach this without being a dictator.
You need to understand that as your children grow up, keeping that line of open communication is key. You don’t want to back your child into a corner to the point that they shut down and shut you out as a defense mechanism.
So I’m Supposed To Let Her Walk All Over Me?
I know what you’re thinking. ‘So, because she’s going through her rebellious teenager phase, I’m just supposed to stay out of it and let her do her thing? I don’t think so!’
Setting rules and boundaries are important. You are their parent, not their friend. However, you also don’t want to step into the “dictator zone.”
You want your child to look to you for guidance, not obey your every command out of fear of repercussion. Every parent has their own way, but sometimes we can be counterproductive in our parenting.
The intention may be quite the opposite of making them become more secretive and sneaky- but we may accidentally push them in that direction.
Having a discussion about boundaries can help to keep yours intact as well as teach them how to instill boundaries themselves, which is an extremely valuable skill to give your children.
I Dated As A Young Teen, What’s The Risk?
This generation of teenagers has a bit of a unique experience that we did not have. Teens today are raised with technology and the internet.
Putting a device in the hands of our children and letting them trek the waters of the internet can lead to disaster.
Let’s put it this way- as a kid, you may have seen x rated films at the movie rental store. Sure, they were available to you, but not in the sense that porn is available to children nowadays. All in the palm of their hands, they can find extreme pornography, the media’s ideals of what it means to be in a relationship, and other content that can be mind-warping for children who have access to it.
This can give kids some very confusing ideas on love and sex. This is a nightmare to think about with a young daughter that is eager to begin dating.
It is important to have talks with your daughter about these topics, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. You want to avoid them being led down the wrong path by boys their age- which you can try to prevent by having these discussions early on.
Setting Boundaries With Your Teen
You may decide that your teenage daughter “dating” a boy her age may not be an issue, as long as the relationship stays age-appropriate.
You can ensure that happens by setting boundaries with your child about what “having a boyfriend” means for them at their age.
You will want to have a discussion and set ground rules- for example, no unsupervised hangouts at home. This is a fair rule that gives your child the opportunity to make their own choices but also keeps them safe from the temptations that may arise in teens.
With an open-door policy, they can hang out without the risk of anything you wouldn’t appreciate happening under your roof going on.
What Classifies “Dating?”
Is it study dates after school? Meeting with friends at the local movie theatre?
Some “dates” that your child may go on, sometimes in groups with their peers, can be great opportunities for them to have a healthy social life- but do you trust the company your child keeps?
It often helps relieve the anxiety when you know the kids your daughter is hanging out with. Make it a point to meet the boy your daughter is interested in. Set rules and expect that they follow them if they want to continue to see their boyfriend.
Good rules to set with your teenage daughter that is dating are…
- An appropriate curfew
- Locations of the date
Giving your daughter the chance to follow the rules without being a helicopter parent can build trust between the two of you. If rules are broken, dial back on the “boyfriend privileges.”
When your teenage daughter is smitten with a boy her age, she may do anything to maintain the relationship, even listen to her parents.
There can be many issues when it comes to dating at such a young age. Since your daughter and her “potential” boyfriends are at an age where they have not yet matured, they won’t understand what true love is.
This will bring on conflict which can lead to psychological damage. There are many cases to teen dating abuse that harms the brains of the young and it makes them want to avoid future relationships.
Making sure that your daughter understands that is important because steeping into a relationship is a commitment that involves your attention and energy.
Final Thoughts – Should I let my 13 year-old daughter date
Overall, it is important to teach your child how to stay safe and leave communication open. You can set rules, repeat them, write them on the walls. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have an easy time getting your teenage daughter to abide by them.
What you can do that is the most beneficial and can have a lasting effect into their adulthood, is to provide them with an accepting environment where they feel comfortable coming to you with issues they may have because they trust that they will be heard.
They will listen when you tell them what to look out for, and they might just take you seriously. Either way, they’ll make their own decisions, but this way they won’t feel inclined to hide them from you.
All in all, trying to figure out if you should let your 13-year-old daughter date depends on how comfortable you feel and all the factors listed above.