What Age Should Someone Start Dating – We asked therapists and parents: at what age does a child have a boy or a girl?
A few weeks into the school year, my 5-year-old son started talking about his four (!) kindergarten friends. I thought it was really cute and to be honest I was relieved that my shy and sometimes raw baby was making friends so easily. Still, I was curious to see what my 7-year-old daughter was up to in second grade, as she too shyly admitted to having a crush or two and, most importantly, was starting to release some serious tween.
- 1 What Age Should Someone Start Dating
- 2 How Soon Is Too Soon To Propose? 18 Signs You’re Ready
- 3 When To Talk To Your Child About Sexual Health
- 4 Signs The Person You’re Dating Wants To Get Married
What Age Should Someone Start Dating
So how early is too early for kids to start dating a boy/girl? And when can they move on to actual dating? I reached out to a clinical psychologist (PhD) and two licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) for expert advice, as well as co-parents around the country, and the answer is that it depends. Experts and caregivers generally agree that there is no age at which dating becomes acceptable, rather it depends on the child’s level of maturity and understanding. Read on for more details on this topic.
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KH: When it comes to whether a child is ready to have a boy or a girl, parents should consider the child’s maturity rather than a certain age. In general, it is best for children under 13 to stay out of romantic relationships as they are still developing emotionally and cognitively. For teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15, healthy friendships encourage them, but romantic relationships can be too much for them. Parents should discuss dating guidelines with their teens and closely monitor their behavior and provide support and guidance when needed.
JT: It’s important to remember that the definition of “girl” or “boy” may mean something different to us adults than it does to your child. How toddlers or older children, teenagers, and young adults define these terms changes over time as they develop. This is where open communication with the child becomes very important.
JS: First of all, I would like to emphasize that this topic is very separate from sexual behavior, which should be avoided until the child is able to understand the implications and consequences of this type of relationship and how to stay safe and maintain self-esteem. . respect. That said, the answer to when to allow your child to date depends. Kids aren’t the same for everyone, and they show different maturity and dating skills at different ages.
: What if, for example, your 7-year-old comes home from school and says she has a new boyfriend and they kiss on the lips?
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KH: It is important to note that there was probably nothing malicious or sexual about the kiss in the eyes of the child. The terms “boy” or “girl” mean something much more innocent and less serious to a child than to teenagers or adults. However, it is important to recognize that a more serious conversation about respect, boundaries and consent is needed. Use this opportunity to teach your child physical independence and how to say no to any physical development. You also need to teach them to respect the physical boundaries of others.
JT: It’s really about the 7-year-old’s sense of what “boy” means. If you are really curious and inquisitive, you can learn more about it. What do you think it means to have a boyfriend and how does it work? (Very often at this stage the “boy” or “girl” can be something that lasts a few hours or at most days). As for kissing the lips, be sure to ask about it. (Why did they do it? Whose idea was it? Are they following behavior that adults have seen? Did their peers dare them to do it?) It’s worth doing some research before setting a limit for your child. (This could be something like “you’ll have time to kiss someone on the lips later, you don’t have to do it now.”)
JS: A 7-year-old going on a “date” with a classmate might think it’s a date only to declare that they’re going out. A seven-year-old child who kisses another child on the lips is likely imitating behavior modeled on television, parents, older siblings, or other adults, rather than an intrinsic instinct for intimacy. This child can be told about society’s social and “time and place” rules regarding dating and love. Children can be allowed to “date” without being developmentally impaired, and the correction of children who intentionally or unintentionally go “too far” should be shameless and humiliating, and framed in terms of preparedness, not conformity.
: What should parents consider when deciding if their child is old enough to date?
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KH: Parents should consider their child’s maturity and readiness. Ask yourself: Does your child understand what it means to be in a relationship? Do they know how to respect other people’s boundaries? Can they handle the emotional pressure of being in a relationship with another person? Can they maintain healthy boundaries to protect themselves from potential harm or exploitation? Ultimately, each situation must be evaluated individually, as each family and each child is different.
JT: It’s good to understand what “dating” means. Is it a large or small group or individual activity? Who else will be there? What are your expectations and the parents of your child, peers and peers? It’s always helpful to have everyone on the same page and comfortable with boundaries/restrictions.
JS: What dating means to a child is very important contextual information for determining the appropriate age for dating. Cultural aspects are also important for parents and teenagers. In some families, the dating target is only allowed to date based on strict codes, and even that is not harmful in itself.
When it comes to children and dating, therapists advise parents to ask neutral questions, consider the context (ie, their own child’s maturity and intentions), and then initiate an appropriate and age-appropriate conversation about boundaries. In other words, understanding and communication are key.
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Still feeling insecure about setting boundaries and dating between your kids? We don’t blame you. When in doubt, call a friend. We actually put the question to some parents across the country for you. Here is their opinion on the subject:
“I would say 16. Children at this age are not mature enough to make firm judgments about partners, dating and sexuality… and generally suffer from underdeveloped self-esteem.”
“I mean, my kids are under 5 right now, so it’s hard to say… but I don’t think I had a boyfriend until I was 12, so I feel it. Then again, kids seem to grow up a lot faster, so who knows.”
“Hmm…I don’t think before 16, but ideally at 18, just because of emotional maturity and priorities around school, activities, friends, etc. Dating can be intense and nerve wracking if you’re not prepared!”
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“I think it’s perfectly fine for 8-year-olds to say they have a girlfriend or boyfriend, because I would assume that title is more of an expression of friendship without the understanding or intent of romance. As for real romantic dates…maybe 14 or 15 sounds good if accepted
Slowly and I know what it is. But boy, I don’t know. My kids are still young (5 and 7), so I’m not there yet!”
“I don’t think there’s an age where it’s appropriate. In my house, we ask our kids what a date means to them and then decide if they’re ready for it. For example, last year my 12-year-old daughter asked if she could date a boy. I asked what that meant and he said “going out to lunch” so we let him. Also, there are so many nuances of gender flexibility these days that I find hard and fast rules pointless. My daughter asked to sleep with a guy who is her boyfriend, and we evaluated it based on the two kids and decided we could do it.”
Emma Singer is a freelance editor and writer with over 7 years of professional proofreading, editing and writing experience. Covered…
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