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06 Nov 2014 Articles Comments (1)

The Authority of the Pope: Part II

In another Catholic Answers tract, The Authority of the Pope: Part I, we looked at the views of the popes and the other Church Fathers up to the year A.D. 341 a…

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02 Nov 2014 Articles Comments (1)

The Church Militant or the Church Belligerent?

How Fighting for the Faith Can Destroy Charity Every nation needs to defend itself. Yet many nations (including our own at its founding) have been wary of stan…

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06 Aug 2016 Q&A No comments

Why do some communicants approach the priest with a rosary in their hands?

Full Question I have seen older communicants approach the priest for reception of the Eucharist with a rosary wrapped around the right hand. Do you know wh…

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14 Mar 2016 Europe News No comments

Pope's schedule for the 31st World Youth Day in Auschwitz, Poland

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03 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (5)

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Full Question I am a Muslim woman considering becoming a Christian. Can you tell me what is the Catholic view about women? In Islam "they" say that women a…

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25 May 2015 Uncategorized No comments

California's soon-to-be saint hailed as a man ahead of his time

Experts in California history, archeology and the life of Bl. Junipero Serra have praised him as a passionate missionary with a vision that extended far beyond …

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17 Jul 2015 Articles Q&A Comments (26)

Do we know what happens in Purgatory? Is there really a fire?

The Catechism clearly affirms the Church’s belief in Purgatory and the purification of the soul after death: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but sti…

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13 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Cardinal Dolan reportedly among concerned bishops who wrote Pope about synod

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31 Aug 2016 Europe News USA Vatican Comments (4)

Nuns oppressed at French beach

Rudy Salles, the Deputy Mayor of Nice, released a statement on Sunday regarding the use of religious clothing at public beaches. While many stand by France's…

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When Should Youths Begin Dating?

Q. My 13-year-old daughter is begging me to be allowed to date. She claims all the other kids in her eighth grade class are allowed to go out with their boyfriends and girlfriends, and she is the only one who isn’t permitted to socialize this way. Eighth grade seems far too young to permit kids to pair off, much less promote this outcome by providing transportation and resources. If teens start dating in eighth grade, what can they look forward to in high school? Our rule is that our daughter can socialize in groups for now and may begin dating when she is 16. Should we reconsider this policy in light of the fact that her friends are all dating? —FEELING PRESSURED

A. As if peer pressure weren’t difficult enough for kids to resist, these days peer pressure is even worse for parents! Many of us find ourselves questioning our judgment or reconsidering our rules because it feels as though we’re the only ones setting limits or requiring our kids to wait for certain privileges.

 

If it seems times have changed, they have. Hardly anyone dated at 13 when we were growing up. Back then, dating began when teens became licensed drivers and a guy could pick a girl up and take her out for the evening. No one wanted to date if it meant being driven around town by their parents! So how did dating in middle school become the new norm?

 

Certainly, media has played a huge role in shaping kids’ expectations about dating and coupling. TV shows, movies, and music focus almost exclusively on pairing off, hooking up, and finding love. Even media content for very young kids contains hypersexual messages that play up themes of romantic coupling.

 

We can also blame the marketing phenomenon known as “age compression,” or KGOY (Kids Getting Older Younger). Marketers created this concept as a way to expand the audience of available consumers. By promoting what formerly were teen behaviors among preteens and targeting them with advertising, they broadened the base of movie-going, dinner-buying consumers.

 

Despite these cultural trends, and notwithstanding adolescent hormones that rage by the eighth grade, 13 still is too early for dating. Dating promotes the expectation of coupling, and in our hypersexual culture, this is dangerous territory.

 

Your rules for socializing are perfectly reasonable. Young teens need the freedom to hang out with friends—girls and guys—without the pressure of pairing off. School dances or church functions allow for the occasional “date,” and this is a healthy way to practice socializing in a more formal setting. Otherwise, the limits you have set for your daughter are not burdensome. In fact, she may secretly appreciate that you have set boundaries on her availability for becoming more involved with a boy.

 

However, the key to making your policy work is open, supportive communication. You must acknowledge that your rules are different from other families’ rules and thank her for complying with them. Talk to her about what’s happening socially among her friends without sounding judgmental so she’ll confide in you. When you hear about couples who break up and are brokenhearted, you might say, “That’s exactly why we don’t want you pairing off at this age. It can be really hard to have your feelings hurt that way, and we don’t see how it would benefit you to go through that at 13.”

 

When your daughter understands that you’re not trying to spoil her fun but instead protecting her from things that she’s too young to experience, she’s likely to appreciate your limits, even if they seem difficult. Don’t make your policy seem like a punishment, but rather, reassure your daughter that you know what’s best for her.

 

Parental rules are made in love and reflect your care and concern. Teens who must abide by rules are lucky and well-loved!









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2 comments

  1. Drazena Reply

    Thank you, we need this.

  2. Susan Reply

    I had the same policy for my daughters. But at the same time I told my youngest thst she should consider herself as an adult at 13 in this sense: only she could protect herself. More than likely I wouid not be there in the moments when wisdom was needed. It was really her job.

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