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Sixteen and Not Allowed to Date

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

Q: I'm 16 and my parents won't let me have a boyfriend! My mom just says that I'm too young to date and that she doesn't want to see me get hurt by a guy. They say that I can start dating when I go to college, but I don't think that's fair. All of my friends have boyfriends. Can you please give me some advice?

A: I think it's unfair of your parents to forbid you to date. Part of your healthy social development may certainly involve dating. I do hope that your desire to have a boyfriend now is not just because your friends are dating. If you have a boyfriend, it should never be because you want to keep up with your friends in the "boyfriend department."

Your mom may be trying to protect you from some of the hurt and disappointment that she suffered when she was a teenager. She's well-intentioned, but she and your dad will cause you far more hurt by forbidding you to date until college. Please try to appeal to an adult who is a trusted family member or friend to talk to your parents. A school counselor or a member of the clergy could also advocate for you.

It would be great if you and your parents could see a counselor together so that all of you could voice your opinions, beliefs, and feeling about your dating. A skilled counselor will respect everyone's feelings and try to bring about a fair solution to this family dilemma. I don't expect you to simply obey your parents' wishes in this area without being frustrated and disappointed. Please try all my suggestions so that your parents will be able to make better judgments about your social development. Thanks for writing.

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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.

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