Q • When should I start allowing my daughter to date? She’s 15 and I’d like to keep her in the friend group activities where there are boys and girls hanging out together. Lately she’s been asking us when she could go on a date with a guy she knows in a grade above her. Is 16 a good age?
From a reader • Ten years ago, I started dating when I was 15, and it was disastrous. I snuck out or spent the night at a friend’s house and saw the person. I ended up getting pregnant and was sent away to have the baby because my parents are well-known in the community. It’s my own fault but that doesn’t do anything for the shame I had in my life for years. Do not let your daughter start dating at this age and do not allow her to date an older guy. — C. G. in Dallas
From Jodie Lynn • What you have to keep in mind is that there’s a difference between actually going on a car date as opposed to hanging out with a group of friends at the mall, park, etc., as this is also a form of dating.
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Most teens are not really ready to go out on an actual car date until at least age 16, and even then only if you’ve talked to them about specific topics that they need to know about to be safe. It also depends on their maturity level.
It’s not only scary for parents but also scary for them. They may want to date but they’re not sure what to expect. Many of them, especially girls, have a romantic scenario in mind from movies, books, TV shows and the like that could very well not line up with reality.
Talking to them about realistic expectations, keeping safe, morals, relationships and sex is a must. You will most definitely need to have a very serious talk with them. Although it may be difficult and embarrassing for both of you to do, it has to be done.
At the age of 15, it’s probably better for her to stick to her group of friends and continue to get to know people through her social media groups. That’s one of the nice things about it in today’s society: teens can socialize with other teens and sharpen their experiences before actually going on a car date.
Although it’s perfectly normal to want to eventually go on a car date, there are many options available to strengthen her relationship skills before actually doing it.
However, remember that face to face interaction is the very best way to build self-esteem and life skills and get ready for a one-on-one relationship.
For now, I’d skip the car dates and stick to her friend group, which is very important at this stage of her life.
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My preschooler has been biting other children in his class. He’s done this twice, and one more time and he will no longer be able to attend. We’ve tried different things but nothing seems to work. Please help.
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Jodie Lynn is an award-winning parenting columnist, author of five books and mother to three children. She and her family live in Wildwood.