21st Century parenting: When should your kids date?

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Most parents would say 30 years old is a good time for their children to start dating, but in reality, it usually happens well before that. And times have changed.

For teenagers, “dating” doesn’t necessarily mean the boyfriend picks up the girlfriend and takes her out for a burger and a milkshake.

Kate Schaefer lives in Williamsville, and has five children, ranging in age from 23 years old, to 13-year-old twins, so she has some experience with this topic.

She said, “They seem to be going in groups, they’re just all friends with boys and girls which is a great thing I think because it makes them become more relaxed with the opposite sex which is good because then when they do date they know how to act”.

Kate thinks 16 is a good age for teens to go to a movie. As far as getting picked up and going out for a nice dinner, she thinks that’s what prom and homecoming dates are for. She also has noticed that what it means to “date” is very different than it was even 10 years ago.

“The girls have classmates who already have boyfriends and they’ve been “going out” for six months and I’m like, well what does that really mean? They’re going out? Well they text all the time, there are 200 texts from the boyfriends”, Kate explained.

She says it’s scary to think about her “babies” going out with boys, but she knows it will happen someday and she wants them to enjoy the journey, because there will be the inevitable heartache along the way.

As for her 20-year-old son, Kate has always asked that he be respectful of girls, because that’s what she expects her daughters’ boyfriends to be as well.

Lynn Shine is a mental health counselor, who cautions that whatever age your children start to date, you should make sure you know what they’re up to.

“Now people are more likely to be telling more about themselves, showing more of themselves, it’s very frightening because teenagers have lowered their inhibitions. So in terms of our roles as a parent, my thinking is that the more you can be on top of it, the more you should”, said Shine. She says you shouldn’t be worried about invading your child’s privacy, because they have to earn the right their privacy and it’s your job to have good communication so they don’t pull away.

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