In their haste to grow up, tweens and teens often embrace the idea of dating and experimenting with romantic entanglements. If your daughter wants to date, you’ll have your hands full keeping careful track of her activities. The rules for dating depend on your individual convictions and what you want enforce. One of your most important goals should be keeping the lines of communication open to facilitate listening and talking.
Talk about intimacy with your daughter. The University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line advises that girls need to understand their physical development and what is involved in physical intimacy. Not knowing this information puts your daughter at a disadvantage because she may not recognize or understand a potentially sexual situation if it occurs. Invite questions and provide clear answers.
Provide guidelines for physical contact. Common forms of physical contact include handholding, tickling, kissing, petting and intercourse. Cover each type of contact and provide recommendations based on your personal principles.
Set a dating age that matches your personal convictions and your family’s style. The Iowa State University Extension and Dr. Phil both advise parents that kids younger than ages 14 do not have the maturity or the emotional skills necessary to date. A group dating situation or a setting with a parent chaperone might be a safe way to embark on the dating scene, according to the University of Minnesota.
Set dating rules. Your rules might include knowing who your daughter's date is, meeting him, knowing the plans and the location of the date, as well as setting a firm curfew as to when your daughter is to return home. If your daughter carries a cellphone, you can insist that she answer it if you call.
Establish clear consequences for breaking any dating rules so your daughter knows what to expect. For example, if she comes home late or doesn’t answer her cellphone when you call, you might decide to ground her from dating for two weekends. Follow through with all consequences as necessary so your daughter knows you intend to enforce your rules.
Encourage your daughter to invite dates to your home where you can supervise and monitor the activities. Your presence is not mandatory every minute, but you could suggest that they stay in the family room, listening to music, playing board games or watching a movie. You could make a house rule that your daughter and her dates must stay in common areas of the home, never alone behind closed doors.
Talk with your daughter's date. It’s reasonable to communicate all the guidelines you’ve given your daughter with the young man so he also understands your expectations.
Tell your daughter that you are always available to chat about her dating experiences. Communicate an interest in her activities so she feels comfortable confiding in you.