Dating is one personal milestone that can be awkward to discuss with your parents because it includes emotional and sometimes physical intimacy. Keep in mind your parents were teens once and probably have learned a lot about dating, then strike up some honest conversations.
Know Your Dating Ideals
Before you bring up the subject with your folks, make sure you know what dating looks and feels like to you. Answer a few simple questions in your own mind so you'll be better prepared for the conversation.
- What do you consider as a date?
- Aside from actual outings, what other activities does dating involve?
- What days of the week or times are reasonable to go out on dates?
- Are there specific age limits for people you date?
- Where do you think you'll meet potential partners?
- Do you have boundaries or time frames regarding physical relationships?
Bring It Up In Advance
Don't wait until you've been asked on a date to talk to your parents about it. Knowing ahead of time what is okay and not okay gives you the freedom to accept a date when offered. Conversations about dating can happen more than once and will likely change as you get older. Start talking to your parents as soon as you become interested in guys or girls as more than friends.
Catch Them Calm
Any important conversation goes better when everyone is in a calm, relaxed state. Look for opportunities to chat with your parents when they are in a good mood. Setting up a time in advance could be helpful as it will give them a chance to discuss their shared views on dating. Parents feel much more prepared when they can present a united front. Let them know you'd like to get their thoughts on dating and schedule a private talk on their day off work.
Ask, Don't Tell
Since you're still expected to follow your parents' rules, you'll probably need their permission to start dating. Try to make most of the conversation questions from you rather than statements. This will make your parents feel more respected and show your maturity. Ask questions such as:
- What age do you think is good to start dating?
- When did you start dating?
- What counts as a date?
- What rules would I need to follow to start dating?
- What is your best dating advice?
Back up Your Stance
If your parents disagree with you about when and how you can start dating, come prepared with some facts to back up your side. Listen to their preferences, then share that you've done some research they might find interesting.
- The average girl starts dating at age 12 and a half while boys start at 13 and a half.
- Dating means different things to different people. Kids today go on group dates, simply spend time chatting on the phone or online, or interact at school only.
- Pediatricians recommend kids don't start going on individual dates until age 16.
Negotiate the Terms
Walk into the conversation with the expectation that your hopes and your parents' rules probably won't match up perfectly. Be prepared to negotiate some of the dating terms, including letting some of your wishes go without a fight. If you can keep a level head and your emotions in check to show your parents you're willing to give a little if they are, they're more likely to work with you. For example, maybe they say no dates on weeknights, but agree to a later curfew when you do go out.
Whatever you agree to with your parents, make sure you follow through. Stick to the guidelines now and they're more likely to change them in the future. Your parents really just want to protect you from any negativity, so cut them a break. Let them know if you had a good time or not after a date and give them a minor detail or two so they feel included and informed.
Be Mature Enough for the Subject
If you're feeling super uncomfortable or awkward talking to your parents about dating, you might not be quite ready to date. This talk with your folks is a great way to start getting used to discussing difficult topics.