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Thirteen-Year-Old Is Ready to Date

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: I'm 13 and my mother won't let me date until I'm 15. I think that that I should be able to date now -- I wouldn't do anything inappropriate. I haven't tried talking to her yet about how I feel. What should I say?

A: I'm really glad you are willing to talk to your mom about how you are feeling. My guess is that your mom doesn't believe you will do anything inappropriate, but like most of us moms, knows that other kids don't always do so. For that reason, to protect their daughters and to give them time to learn skills in relating to others, parents set dating age requirements. A date usually implies going somewhere alone with another person. How do you get there? At 13, neither you nor your date can drive. What do you do if your date uses alcohol or drugs and/or pressures you for sex? Have you really had enough experience that you can handle those kinds of situations? Be honest!

My guess is that your mom is not going to change her mind, but I would encourage you to talk with her about your inviting small groups of boys and girls over for some activity like a picnic, swimming, going to an arcade, hiking, biking -- whatever you and others might enjoy. Two things will happen. You will learn about some of the boys and you will learn how to interact with them. At the same time your mom will have a chance to build up her trust in you and give you advice if anything happens that you are not sure of.

Enjoy your middle-school years. Learn about others. Learn about yourself. When you are ready, your mom will let you date.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

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