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Is 13 Too Young to Date?

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My daughter is almost 13 and is interested in dating. It seems like a lot of kids her age do date, but when I was younger in my country, people started dating when they were 17 or 18 years old. Am I being overprotective by not letting her date now?

A: In spite of what your daughter or what her friends may say, very few parents let their 13-year-olds date. You know your daughter best. Most 13-year-olds don't know how to handle themselves on a date. They can't drive, so shouldn't be in cars with kids old enough to drive. It's perfectly all right for you to explain to your daughter why she can't date and that it's basically a safety issue -- emotional and physical safety. You can also set up the conditions and times when you will consider her ready. Emphasize that you trust her to do the right thing and that sneaking around to date breaks that trust.

For the present time, you might also work with her in having get-togethers with both boy and girl friends so that she can learn how to interact with all kinds of people. It could be a picnic, volleyball, school project -- get creative. It should be at your house in the daytime and something that she gets to help plan.

Again, trust your own parental judgment.

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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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