Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
Home > Teens > Puberty and Sex > Teens and Dating > When Is Unsupervised Dating Okay?
|

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

When Is Unsupervised Dating Okay?

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: How old should children be before they may date unsupervised?

A: In my opinion, there is no specific chronological age at which kids suddenly are old enough to date unsupervised. I do believe parental approval of dating unsupervised is more a matter of officially sanctioning it since you and I both know that kids can always find ways to get together alone without our knowing. When we allow and/or approve it we are telling our kids that we believe they are mature enough to be trusted with this behavior.

If parents are honest with themselves, they will acknowledge that their children's sexual activity is at the core of most unsupervised dating worries. Are we sending a message through our approval of our son's/daughter's being out alone with a date that we think they are old enough to explore their sexual urges with another?

It's very different for you to drive your 11 year-old daughter and her "date" to a movie, leave them there and then pick them up after the movie and bring them home than it is for you to let that same 11 year-old stay at her "date's" house for the evening when the boy's parent's are out of town.

This question is best decided by first examining what your worries are, if any, about your child dating unsupervised. If you give your permission, but make your child feel like he/she is up to no good or grill him/her about every aspect of the date, then you are sending a mixed message and undermining the positive social development aspects that can come with the initiation of unsupervised dating. Fathers' are famous for telling their daughters to have fun on their dates, thinking back to what they hoped would happen on their adolescent dates and then making their daughters' dating lives miserable.

This is another one of those letting go stages, wherein your natural worries about "what could happen" are balanced by your close, loving, trusting relationship with your child. Trust yourself on this one, Bob; I'm sure you will make the appropriate decision.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Printable Fall Fun To-Do List
Celebrate the cooler weather with this printable checklist of fun fall activities for your whole family.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Care Package Items for College Students
Show your college student that you love and miss her by mailing a care package full of dorm room essentials and comforting treats. Whether it's her birthday, exam time, or just because, get care package ideas to brighten her day.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!