Teen Dating Guidelines

{}If you're a protective parent, it may be tempting to put rigid dating rules in place for your teenager, but most counselors say a more balanced approach will give you the opportunity to guide your teen through dating decisions while they're still living in your home.With two weddings in just the past few months, love in the Duggar family is entering a "safe zone." At 21 and 23, daughters Jessa and Jill are married and they're free to act like it. {}But Chenal Family Therapy director Ken Clark said acting like you're married when you're still a teenager dating, can be a recipe for disaster. But, on the flip-side, Clark also has some words of caution for families with overly firm dating philosophies."I think parents who ban relationships for their children create children who are probably liars, because they're still going to pursue relationships and they'll create children who don't know how to critically think for themselves. That doesn't mean that we don't have boundaries, but we have to give them some training wheels before we push them down the hill," said Clark.Clark said dating for teens should happen in stages and parents should be there to set guidelines for each age and phase. In middle school, Clark said kissing should not be allowed, parents shouldn't allow one-on-one dates (even if they're supervised), and phone conversations and texting is okay, but only if parents have access to it and both kids know it.Once high school hits, things get trickier. Clark said teens should not be allowed to date someone more than a year older or a year younger, car dates are only okay once both parties are 16 or 17 and the teens are behaviorally sound, but, most importantly, long-term relationships should be discouraged."I also think parents should work hard to disincentivize the long-term, high school relationship. A lot of us...myself included, had a 2-3 year relationship in high school. That's where hearts get broken in a very different way," said Clark.Little Rock Christian Academy Junior Samantha Boyd, 16, said her parents have always encouraged her to keep her dating relationships light and casual."I never really go to the movies or go to their house, I usually prefer to do things in the daylight where you're not going to be put in a bad situation, and I go out to eat a lot...where you're in public and it's not easy to be put in an awkward position where you're allowing yourself to be in a bad situation," said Samantha.Sheryl, Samantha's mother said she and her husband always have Samantha check in with them while she's on a date and they make sure they know her date and his values before they go out."They come to the door, they come in and they meet us and talk to us for a little bit and tell us what their plans are, where they're going, what they're going to do and when they'll be back," said Sheryl.Once your child goes to college, Clark said parents still need to talk to their children often about dating and they should still put rules in place regarding overnight dates and checking in with parents and friends to make sure everyone stays safe. {}
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