Teen Dating: When Does Puppy Love Become More Serious?

While doing the laundry, Kelly discovers a folded up note in the pocket of her thirteen year old daughter’s jeans. She unfolds it and sees that it’s a note that a boy named Bobby was supposed to receive, but never did. Kelly folds it back up and sets it on her daughter’s dresser. Later that night, Kelly asks her daughter who Bobby was. Her daughter, blushing bright red now, explains that he’s “just a friend”.  Kelly doesn’t bring it up the rest of the night, but wonders if there is anything serious between Bobby and her daughter.

Is your teen or preteen ready to move from puppy love to a more serious relationship?

How soon is too soon when it comes to teen dating? When should my teenager have a serious relationship with the opposite sex?

There are no “rights” and “wrongs” to parenting, just “more effective and less effective” approaches. When it comes to teen dating , however, there are “more risky” and “less risky” options.

When to date is ultimately your decision based on your knowledge of the maturity levels and responsibility of both teens. Take into consideration whether or not the teenagers are just in a puppy love phase or have a more serious intimate relationship.

Here are Some Teen Dating Tips:

  • Avoid unsupervised activity with the opposite sex before 12 years old.
  • Between 12 and 15 there can be some unsupervised group outings.
  • By sixteen, teens need some freedom and opportunity to socialize with friends of the opposite sex. Avoiding this interaction may result in your teen rebelling, sneaking off and being dishonest.
  • Encourage double dating or group outings, especially before sixteen years old.
  • Meet your teen’s date before hand and invite them to your house before he/ she and your teen are alone together.
  • Avoid car dates until your teen is sixteen. This coincides with the rule of no more than two people in the car at once. Make sure you trust the driver.
  • Avoid movies on the first date. Being in the dark where others can’t see what your teen and their date are doing is not the best decision.
  • When your teens and their dates are at your house, give them their privacy, but in areas to walk past and glance over to see all is okay.
  • Suggest they do an activity that keeps their idle hands and lips busy such as video games or if you have a pool or air hockey table.
  • If bedrooms are the only place where a TV or videogame system is located, then make them keep the door open with one person on the bed at a time. You can also move the Tv and/or system into a more open room.

It’s very important to have open communication with your teen about sex, love, dating and values. The more you listen to your teens and share (not lecture) your opinions and values, the more your teens can develop their own opinions. You will also feel more trusting when your teen goes from puppy love to serious dating if you know where your teen stands on these issues.

For more tips on how to handle teen dating and more information about The Parent’s Toolshop® and its unique Universal Blueprint® problem-solving system, get the 7 Keys to Parenting Success ebook. You will be less frustrated, respond more calmly and feel more confident in any parenting situation.

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Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop and president of Parent’s Toolshop Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop trainers. She has 30 years experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. She has interviewed many parenting experts on her Parents Tool Talk radio show and is a parenting expert columnist for Chic Mom magazine. She has produced almost 100 multimedia resources, which are available at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.com.

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