Setting Teen Dating Boundaries

Setting teen dating boundaries is an important part of keeping teen children safe. While teens complain about boundaries, they're also glad to have them when they wind up in an uncomfortable situation. Teenagers dating without boundaries may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, and they may feel that they're on their own when it comes to fighting back peer pressure. Set rules and let your kids complain. Your kids will realize that you're doing this because you care about them.

Rules Parents Should Enforce

  • Set an age-dependant curfew. The younger the teen, the earlier the curfew. Teens start dating as early as 13 years old. An appropriate curfew for a teen that is this young is no later than 7 PM As your teen gets older and your trust grows, you can extend the curfew. Older teens shouldn't be out past 9 PM on school nights. On weekends, make sure teens are home by 11 PM. There's no place for them to go that late at night, and nighttime driving is particularly dangerous for young people.
  • Insist on meeting your teen's date. For younger teens, the first date should take place at your home. A late-afternoon barbecue or an early evening movie will give you a chance to get to know your child's date. Don't hover; some kids will act very differently around parents than they act when they're alone.
  • Insist on speaking to the date's parent(s). If the date's parents are on the same page as you regarding teen dating, a lot of trouble could possibly be averted, such as missing curfew, or teens telling you they will be at one place when they're going somewhere else.
  • Find out where your teen will be going. If the date will be happening at more than one place, ask when they will be leaving the first place to go to the second place. If neither of the teens are driving, find out how they will get there.
  • Make sure your teen stays in touch. Even if you hate the idea of cell phones, get a prepaid phone and program your number into it. In an emergency, a cell phone is an excellent way to stay in touch. Have your teen call if there is a change in plans or if the date will be ending late. Cell phones should be kept in a pocket at all times so that they won't get lost, dropped or left behind.
  • Discuss your wishes regarding sexual activities with your teen. Be sure the teens (both male and female) understand the consequences of having sex, including pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Empower your teen with the confidence to say "no" in uncomfortable situations, and always ask about what happened after a date. Encourage teens to go out in groups and to stay in public places.
  • Talk about birth control. Your teen deserves to know about protected and unprotected sex and the consequences, and about all of the sexually transmitted diseases. You have a better chance of your teen remaining a virgin if he or she understands all there is to know about casual sex. If you suspect your teen may be having sex and you did not have "the talk" with them, you should start asking questions and start educating your teen about protection and birth control. 
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Dating is an important subject for teens, and parents need to be involved in setting teen dating rules and expectations. Frequent communication, clear expectations and caring, loving support will help your teen make good choices.

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