Tips for Setting Dating Standards With Your Teens

By Julie Baumgardner
November 9, 2017

It is vital for teens to set and stick to dating standards as they build relationships. The role of a parent is that of teacher and encourager, not dictator.

Before your child gets to the level of maturity where he or she is ready to date, you should decide upon your dating standards. Determine how old your teenager must be to date. Set a curfew and describe in advance what the consequences will be for breaking this curfew and STICK TO THEM.

Additional expectations should be that your teen must always tell you:

  • Where he/she will be;
  • A phone number or numbers where he/she can be reached;
  • Who he/she is going out with;
  • What they will be doing; and
  • When he/she will return.
  • If they don’t know the answers to these questions, they don’t go out on the date.
  • If he/she is going to be late, a courtesy phone call is expected to let you know about the situation; this does not excuse coming in after curfew and the consequences set.
  • If your teenager is a female, let her know in advance that you expect her dates to come to the door to get her and to meet her parents.
  • Your teen should always carry enough money to get a cab/bus ride home if necessary.

Items for discussion before your teen dates:

  • Why does he/she want to date?
  • What does he/she hope to have happen?
  • Has your teen considered group dating? What are the benefits of group dating?
  • If you have a daughter preparing to date, does she have an emergency plan in case her date becomes forceful or violent? The “It won’t happen to me” plan is not good enough.
  • Encourage a first-date activity to be something that provides opportunity for lots of conversation.
  • Talk with your teenager about treating their date with respect. What does that look like?
  • Discuss the potential for hormonally-charged situations and how to avoid them.
  • What kind of messages might your teenager send by the kind of clothes they are or are not wearing? If you are the father of a teenage daughter, think about this subject very carefully, and make sure your daughter knows that men can be easily aroused by…you fill in the blanks for her. Instruct your sons to be respectful.
  • Who will be paying for the date? The parents or the teenager? What is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a date? Instruct your teenager that just because someone buys them dinner doesn’t mean they owe them anything.
  • Make sure your teenager knows that you are there for them and willing to listen if they need to talk.
  • If your teenager is female, talk about the dangers of dating guys much older than them.
  • Discuss the idea that dating is about developing a growing friendship—NOT about having sexual involvement.

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