Study Finds Trouble for Kids Who Date Early
A study published in the Journal of Adolescence, found that kids who start dating (one-on-one) at a young age are more likely to experience school and behavioral problems (such as lying, cheating, picking fights, truancy, disobedience, and running away) than their peers that start dating later in adolescence.
Perhaps most alarming was the age at which "dating early" was defined by the researchers, as well as "on-time" daters and "late bloomers." The study, from the University of Toronto, used data collected on almost 700 students. Early daters began dating on average at the age of 11.6 years, on-timers began at age 12.9, and late bloomers began at the average age of 14.9.
- Parents should be proactive in discussing the topic of dating with their kids before they begin asking for permission to date.
- Encourage inclusive dating first (also known as "group dating.") This allows kids to develop social skills with opposite sex relationships while providing an environment that is less romantically tempting. Downplay romance and play up the concept of friends going out together.
- Emphasize that peer-pressure isn't a good reason to begin dating, and teens that delay one-on-one dating are completely normal.
- Understand that there is no right age to begin dating. Parents know their kids best and should determine when an adolescent is ready to start dating. Set reasonable expectations for when it's okay to start one-on-one dating, and acceptable dating activities and behaviors.
- Teach kids the biblical standard of respect (see Philippians 2:3-5).