Seriously, though, when is your child ready to date? "At this age, kids use dating labels but aren’t ready to have much direct one-on-one interaction beyond maybe sitting together at lunch or recess," says Dale Atkins, Ph D, a family therapist in New York.
"Most of the activity happens in a pack, and communication takes place between friend groups." By 8th grade, dating probably means talking on the phone and hanging out, usually in groups.
If your child is under seventeen years of age, we'd recommend that you sit down with together and map out some specific guidelines for relationships with the opposite sex.
Encourage them to mingle with both boys and girls in a mixed group setting, such as a church youth group.
Talk about pursuing a commitment to sexual purity and make it clear that, for the time being, there can be no question of unsupervised dates.
Michelle Anthony, Ph D, a developmental psychologist and learning therapist in Denver, suggests an opening line like: “It sounds like a lot of kids are talking about dating now. ” If you can't tell what dating means to your kid, try discussing dating as shown on TV shows or in movies that are age-appropriate.
For instance, Atkins suggests asking your child why they think someone acted the way they did, and whether they made a good or healthy choice. It's your job, as their parent, to figure out if your child is ready to handle the level of dating they have in mind.