Another tricky subject we are currently navigating through – dating. My son turns 13 this May and I can’t believe he will be a teenager. The dating world has changed even in the last 10 years.

Recently, he has been talking with a girl he met at youth group. Mostly via text and of course on Wednesdays at church. More and more of his friends have “girlfriends”.

So, is there a right or wrong age for a child to start dating? Is it the age that the rest of their friends seem to be dating?

When Should My Child Be Allowed to Date?

We decided that group dates may start as early as 13. Taking this approach gives Cohen the opportunity to explore the dating world while remaining safe with his friends. And of course there are strict rules about dating. I need to know the person he is dating, where they will be, and have a solid curfew in place. We also discussed all the issues that accompany relationships.

When I was growing up, the rule was that I could start dating at age 15 and could go on car dates (that is, dates in which one of the kids is driving rather than parents dropping us off) at age 16. I couldn’t even “hang out” with guys in a group date setting. And I rebelled!

Setting Rules & Boundaries

Then comes the ground rules! I need to know the person Cohen is currently smitten with. I need to get as much information as possible before group dates. It can be as little as knowing the person’s name, the name of their parent(s), where they live and how they met. I ask as many questions as he will allow, including what their grades are like, who are their friends and what are their extracurricular activities.

It is necessary to know the exact location of the date. If he is planning to go to multiple places, I need those details as well.

Keeping Communication Open

Cohen has a tracking app on his phone that I can access, but I prefer direct contact.

He texts me when he arrives at a location (i.e., the movie theater), texts again if he is leaving to go to a second location (restaurant), and texts when he is leaving to come home or back to his friends. I am in constant contact with him or the parents who are driving. I never have to wonder where he is, and if something should happen, I can easily reach him.

Should he not get in touch, I could go one step further and use the tracking app. I’m hoping I never have to use it, but it’s nice to have the option as a backup.

He has a flexible curfew based on activities. If the activity is school related, like a dance or game, he can have a later curfew.

The primary rule is that he needs to stay in touch if the activity goes later than planned. The curfew is much stricter on non-school activities.

In a couple years when he starts driving, I will need him home by his curfew with no exceptions and no excuses. He will also need to text us before he leaves so we can be certain there is no speeding happening to get home safely.

So, let the group dates begin! But we insist he makes smart choices and knows the rules and will always keep me in the know.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

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