You may not feel that your teen is mature enough to date.

Why Parents Don't Approve of Dating

by Erica Loop

While your teen's romantic situation most likely isn't on the level of "Romeo and Juliet," it's entirely possible that either you or her partner's parents don't approve of the couple's relationship. Although some parents find dating acceptable, others don't believe that their teens can handle this type of adult situation with an appropriate level of maturity, have strong religious or moral objections, or are simple scared about the potential consequences -- such as an unplanned pregnancy.

1. Maturity

If dating was only about innocent dinners out with friends, or if you could somehow be assured that your child and her date wouldn't do anything more than hold hands, the idea of romance and your teen probably wouldn't strike fear -- or at least worry -- in your heart and mind. Along with dating comes mature situations such as sex, deep emotions and the potential for true love. You may not feel that your teen is mature enough to handle this type of a relationship just yet. Keep in mind that while age does play a key role, some teens are more or less mature than others. Your 16-year-old son may not seem nearly as mature as your neighbor's 14-year-old daughter.

2. Family Values

Each family has its own value system that may largely influence whether or not the teen is or isn't allowed to date. For example, the family's religious views on romance, love and sex typically impact the child's own beliefs and values. According to a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development survey, teens who have strong religious beliefs, passed down from their families, are less likely to have sex than those who don't. If you have a belief system that disapproves of sex before marriage or even romance among teens, this may cause you to disapprove of your high-schooler dating.

3. Age

Although age doesn't necessarily dictate a teen's maturity level, some parents may feel that there is such a thing as "too young" to start dating. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teens shouldn't begin one-on-one dating until at least 16 years old. If you subscribe to this type of age minimum, it's likely that you won't approve of your younger teen going out to dinner and a movie, unless it's in a group situation.

4. Group vs. Individual Dating

Before deciding whether you do or don't approve of your teen dating, consider the social alternatives that are out there. The AAP notes that many modern teens often start romantic relationships on group dates. Rather than a traditional one-on-one date, a group date means that your teen, her date and a group of other kids may all go to the movies, grab a bite to eat, go bowling or whichever activities are popular in your area. If you don't approve of individual dates -- whether your think your teen isn't mature enough or you fear the intimate situations that can result during one-on-one time -- a group date is often a less-stressful alternative and perhaps a good compromise for parent and child.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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