What Age is Appropriate For Dating In School?
Most parents are worried when their teens start dating. So many questions cross their minds. Will my child be hurt physically or emotionally? Will they engage in unsafe sex? What if she gets pregnant? What about STIs and dating violence? All these questions become sources of worry. But parents should not worry because of teen dating. It is normal for teens to be interested in dating. Romantic interests are normal and healthy in school. Did you know there are many benefits of dating in school? Well, keep reading to learn more.
Benefits of Teen Dating
- It helps form an identity
Teen dating helps kids understand who they are. For example, they learn about what attracts them and what does not. They also learn what they like most. Through partner choices, teens develop their identities.
- It helps develop interpersonal skills
Teen dating provides a platform to exercise empathy, negotiation, trust, and compromise. This helps improve their interpersonal skills.
- It helps develop healthy relationship skills.
The idea of teen dating may sound uncomfortable. But it is a good thing. It allows teens to interact with the other gender. This improves relationship skills. These skills will be useful in future relationships. During teen dating, people learn important skills that help navigate later experiences. Most people who dated in school have more mature relationships in life.
- It provides emotional support
Sometimes children question their sexual orientation. Discussing some of these issues with parents may be uncomfortable. In such a case, a teen may seek emotional support from the dating partner. But it is important to discuss these issues with mature people. This way, proper guidance, and support are provided.
We say teen dating is good. But only healthy relationships are good. So, what is a healthy relationship? A healthy relationship involves trust and respect. The opposite of healthy dating is abusive dating. An abusive relationship has the following characteristics. First, there is physical abuse such as hair pulling and kicking. The second is emotional abuse such as controlling behavior and betrayal. The third is sexual abuse which involves being forced into any sexual experience.
Signs of An Abusive Dating Partner
If your dating partner has the following characteristics, then they are abusive.
- Harms you physically including pushing or shaking you
- Dictates how you dress
- Lowers your self-esteem
- Blames you for everything that goes wrong.
- Prevents you from spending time with friends.
- Makes sexual advances that you are uncomfortable with.
Immediately you realize your dating partner is abusive, end that relationship. Talk to your parents, guardian, teacher, or trusted adult. Let them help you end that relationship. This is important for your safety. Research shows that teen dating violence has increased significantly.
You should be careful with your dating partner. Do not tolerate any form of violence. Do not worry about losing a partner or what your friends will say. You are a beautiful being and your right partner is out there. Just give yourself time to heal.
You would rather be alone and safe. You cannot afford any distractions. Remember you still have your studies. Again, you have all the time ahead to date.
So, do not worry. If you feel confused or stressed, get counseling help.
The Magic Number
So, dating in school is good. But what is the right age to start dating in school? Honestly, there is no definite age to start dating in school. But most researchers agree that 16 and above is a good age to start dating in school. Still, the child must be mature enough. Maturity in this case refers to;
- First, the ability to respect others.
- Second, the ability to manage emotions.
- Third, getting good grades in school.
Some kids start dating at 12. Studies show that this age is too young for dating. Such kids may experience behavioral and academic problems. This is compared to kids who start dating after 16 years.
But it does not mean that parents must allow their kids to a date after 16. We all have different opinions on the right age for school dating. What age are you comfortable with? The answer will depend on many factors. It will depend on parents’ personalities, the kid’s personality, and the kid’s maturity levels.
Setting Guidelines For Teen Dating
When parents allow their kids to date in school, it is important to set guidelines. Parents should be clear about their expectations. This includes explaining what is considered appropriate and acceptable behavior. Parents should provide guidance that will help teens succeed in future relationships.
Some kids will be uncomfortable talking about dating stuff. Still, parents should try talking about dating and sex. Parents should tell their teens everything they think they should know. This helps correct any picked misinformation about dating. Setting some safety rules is also recommended.
Some safety rules may include;
- Meeting the teen the kid wants to date before they start dating.
- Prohibiting the use of online dating apps.
- Knowing where your kid will be going and with whom
- Setting acceptable dating age limits.
- These rules will change as the child grows
To conclude, dating in school is beneficial for teens. The right age maybe 16 and above. But the right age will vary from one child to another. Some kids mature at 16 others later. The child must be mature before starting to date in school.