What is Age-Appropriate Dating for your Teen?

By Bobbi Bloom

Wouldn’t you love an intimate dinner with your spouse? Imagine eating an entire meal at your favorite restaurant with uninterrupted conversation. What about being able to watch an adult movie in a theater with no phone calls? Sounds like a heavenly Saturday night to me! You might be surprised to learn that your teenager may feel the very same way. Children nowadays are all too eager to begin dating and have some kind of a relationship. But what is age-appropriate dating for our kids and are they (or we) really ready for it?

As a parent, you need to decide what you feel comfortable with when it comes to your son or daughter dating. Here are a few things to consider about your teen:

  • What is thier maturity level?
  • Do they have good communication skills?
  • Do they use appropriate manners around others?
  • Are they honest and trustworthy?

Remember that what works for one of your children may not necessarily work with another. For that reason, many parents feel that dating rules and guidelines should be created on a case-by-case basis. Communication is the key!

Consider asking your teen questions about being in a difficult or awkward situation and asking them to explain how they would react to it. That answer is a great indicator for what they may or may not be ready for in terms of dating.

For teenagers ages 13-15, parents typically feel that group dates are the most appropriate. Kids can go to the movies, go bowling, skating or even hang out at the local mall.

Dr. Ron Eagar views group dating as a healthy way for adolescents to ease into the dating pool rather than dive in.

“There’s an enormous difference between a 14- or 15-year-old and a 16- or 17-year- old in terms of life experience. You might add or subtract a year depending on how mature and responsible your youngster is,” he says.

For the older teens, ages 16-18, dating takes on new responsibilities and rules. Now we add in the component of driving and curfews. Typically, unsupervised dating starts around these ages.

Some, or rather most, parents may not be ready for their child to enter the dating world. Your apprehension is understandable. Since dating is an inevitable part of growing up, wouldn’t it be better for your child to have as much knowledge and support from you as possible? It’s up to you to help guide your teen into this next phase of his adolescence.


  • Movies
  • Bowling
  • Miniature golf
  • Walk around the mall
  • Ice cream
  • Rollerblading or ice skating
  • School sporting events
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • School dance
  • Paint-your-own-pottery place
  • Group dinner at a restaurant
  • Chaperoned parties at friends’ houses