Should you let your teenager date? (Photo: iStock)

Parenting has changed a lot over the years. Today, parents are learning new ways to raise their children to keep up with the changing times.

In these modern times with things like the internet, children are developing faster. They tend to be more self-aware at an early age and are exposed to issues like relationships and sex before they become teenagers.

At some point in their teenage years, your child may start to develop an interest in the opposite sex and a desire to date. This can be very tricky territory, and you may not know whether or not to allow your teenager to date.

When it happens, and it will, you need to approach it with wisdom and this article should give you some things to think about:

Early heartbreaks and emotional problems

The effects of heartbreak are very serious. If you’ve ever experienced one, you probably remember how horrible it felt.

This is an experience that can change your whole personality and lead to emotional issues, depression and suicide. Now you can imagine how risky it is for your teen to go through this at an early age, especially because most of these teenage relationships are unstable.

Risky experimentation
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Another challenge of allowing your teen to date is sexual experimentation. Often during those teen years of curiosity, your child might end up doing things they shouldn’t be doing.

This is even a bigger problem if they allow access to privacy because slowly they will convince each other that it’s okay to cross certain boundaries. This can come with serious consequences and even teen pregnancies.

Vulnerability to harm and abuse

Without proper guidance and boundaries on dating, teenagers become more exposed to danger. They are more vulnerable to people who want to take advantage of them and some of them unfortunately end up going through teen dating violence and abuse.

The fact that teenagers don’t yet understand some of the red flags to look for is part of the reason why it is not always a good idea.

Distractions

Letting your teen date too early can also distract them from their priorities. The most important thing during this stage in life is working hard in school and laying the foundation for their future, and dating might derail them from that.

It’s possible for your child to get so caught up in their relationship that they fail exams or miss certain opportunities.

Allow it if…

On the other side, we have situations where it’s safe to let your teen date starting with allowing it at the right age. 18 can be a good starting point because, at this age, your child will have a better understanding of real-life issues.

Other things to consider are encouraging open communication on topics like sex and enforcing firm boundaries as a parent. Have strict boundaries on issues like online dating, and curfews and always insist on meeting the person they’re interested in first.

That way, you will have done your part and given them a better and healthier start in the dating world.