Your job as a parent is to protect your child from the outside world and often from themselves. When children reach their teenage years, their hormones are in full swing, while their minds are still in a childlike state. This means that they can make mistakes that will follow them the rest of their lives if you don’t take action. Should a 16-year-old date a 13-year-old?
A 16-year-old should not date a 13- year-old. From maturity levels to driving to legal issues, there is a lot of difference in this 3 year age gap that should prevent dating. In fact, all teens would benefit from postponing dating until adulthood when they are better able to handle the consequences.
Raising children comes with an open invitation to be the bad guy. Embrace the role of being your child’s parent and not their friend! This could set off years of conflict that seems to have a negative impact on your relationship. Don’t let that get in between you and your child’s safety! Read on and learn why you should not let a 13-year-old date a 16-year-old.
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Reasons Why You Should Not Let 13-year-olds Date 16-year-olds
Being a parent is one of the most challenging and most rewarding things you can pursue in life. Forming a bond with your children and making memories when they are young can create a bond of trust and faith, unlike any other human connection on Earth. As they grow up, their hormones could lead them into some difficult situations, and they need your input and love.
In a study done by researchers at the University of Georgia, it was discovered that preteens and teens that dated were much more likely to suffer from social problems and depression in adulthood. The emotional scarring, dramatic situations, and pressures for physical intimacy prove too extreme for underdeveloped brains and forming self identities.
There is a real reason funny slogans and sayings like this one end up on baby clothes. Take a look for yourself at this baby outfit here on Amazon.
Dating is difficult for people of any age, much less a pair of goofy teenagers. Their bodies could make them believe that sexual relationships are the only way to show love or affection. There could also be an intimidation element that borders on emotional and possibly physical abuse that isn’t healthy for either child. The reasons you should not let a 13-year-old date a 16-year-old are:
Legal Implications for 16-Year-Olds
In some states, 13 is too young to date. There could be a “close in age” exemption but only qualifies for children two years apart. Check your state laws and keep in mind that the older child, or male child, is usually the one who suffers to the law’s extent.
Sexual Problems for All Teens
No child 16 and under should be having sex. Abstinence is the only way to make sure that there are no laws broken and no pregnancies occur. FamilyDoctor.Org details a multitude of health problems and risks associated with teen sex.
You must speak with your child about these problematic sexual situations. The conversation might be challenging, but the cost of not being the responsible parent and taking the challenging road could be catastrophic.
Abuse Issues for Your 13-year-old
Three years doesn’t sound like much, but the experience and education that the older child has could be used in an abusive manner. Emotional and physical abuse is widespread at this age, and keeping your child out of those situations can only help them thrive in the teenage wasteland of youth.
On a developmental level, a 13-year-old is miles away from a 16-year-old. Studies have proven that there is significance difference in the development of a 13 year old’s brain and that of a 16-year-old. A 13-year-old who hangs out with a 16-year-old and their friends may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors like drinking and using drugs.
These are just a few of the issues that can come up in this kind of dating situation. While it’s fashionable to be lenient with teenagers when it comes to dating, allowing teenagers to date can lead to decisions that could have negative, even life-altering, consequences. Only half of teenage mothers even receive a high school diploma by the age of 22, for example. (Source: CDC)
Driving a Car-the Disparity between 13-year-olds and 16-year-olds
Their ability to drive could place your child in a scary and dangerous situation that they might not know how to navigate. If they were to be left alone, they could end up in serious trouble. The older child could also use this as leverage to get things from the younger child
Offender Implications for Your 16-year-old
Whether there is sex involved in the relationship or not, the implications for the older child could label them a sex offender for life. Check the laws of your state, but chances are 13 is below the age of consent and I would argue that 16 is also below the age of consent. If the parents of the younger child press charges, lives could be ruined.
Being friends with kids around the same age is encouraged, and they should be able to find out who they are during this time. Dating only makes this process ten times harder and much less rewarding. Explain to your child that down the road, they will be able to date and will get to experience all the things that come along with it. Remember the teen years are for growing, not dating.
Some Tips for Talking About Abstinence for 13-year-olds and 16-year-olds (All Children)
Talking about sex with your child could be an uncomfortable experience that can be easy to avoid. You must take the time to speak with them about sex, or they could make a decision that could follow them the rest of their lives. Keep in mind that this isn’t a one-time thing and talking to your child about sex must be done when necessary.
Important: They will find out about sex one way or the other. If you are not the one explaining morality and boundaries, someone else will. Many times it will be morally compromised entertainers, athletes, or musicians.
Be Patient and Determined in Your Talks
This isn’t just uncomfortable for you; it is uncomfortable for the child as well. Take your time when talking to them and let them know that you are willing to take all the time they need to get this right. Showing resolve and determination will reinforce your message and open your child up to talking more
Be Honest with Your Child About Abstinence
Being honest is the most crucial part of the process. Tell the child that there are dangers to having sex and that they must not engage until they are married. Let them know that you have been in the same position and that being true to yourself is worth more than anything they could imagine.
Begin Talking about it as Soon as Possible
Talk about abstinence with your children at an early age and keep going. Reinforcing this idea means that you keep it at the front of their minds when it comes to dating situations later in life. Having them know how to deal with those types of cases is a valuable life tool.
Be a Listener for Your Child and Their Problems
This conversation should not be one-sided. Listen to the child and try to answer any questions or concerns that they might have. Peer pressure is killer on kids today, and the US culture doesn’t help one bit. Listen to what the child has to say and show them you care about them and their situation.
Speak About Family Values with the Child
Nothing shows a child how to handle a situation better than their upbringing. Speak about your family values and your values as a parent. Make them understand that there are fences that must be put up for their protection so that they can grow into thriving adults that have the world at their fingertips.
Start Hard Conversations with Your Child about Abstinence
You must be the adult in this situation who steps up and talks about the things that nobody wants to talk about. Starting these conversations is often the most challenging part. Once the initial shock is over, the room is open for communication beneficial to the child and you.
Keep the Conversation Going for the Child’s Benefit
Now that the ball is rolling, you should keep talking with your child about the benefits of abstinence. Take every reasonable opportunity to speak with them about why it is the only way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and avoid sexually transmitted diseases.
When Your 13 Year Old Or 16 Year Old Teen Doesn’t Listen
As many parents can attest to, sometimes the act of banning an activity can make it even more exciting and tempting to try for teenagers. This can lead to the couple dating in secret.
Secret dating breaks down all lines of communication between the parents and the teenagers. It also erodes their trust in each other and the relationship in general.
Because the secretly dating couple is already breaking the rules by seeing each other, they are more likely to break other rules, such as rules against sex or other activities.
So what does this mean? And what should you do? Give in?
Be Vigilant in Your Parenting
Despite forbidding teen dating, be aware that it doesn’t necessarily mean your child will obey. So be vigilant in monitoring your teen’s behavior and whereabouts, just like you did when your child was younger.
This doesn’t mean you’re a ‘helicopter parent‘…this means you care enough about your child to keep them safe. Know your child’s friends; speak with their friends’ parents; be the chaperone for parties and get togethers. And of course, keep communication lines open.
Even if you’ve set ground rules against your teen dating, your teen is bound to test the boundaries. Because of school and extracurricular activities, it’s very difficult to monitor them, but you must figure out a way!
As a parent of 4 children-two now adults and two in their teens-I can attest that all children will test you and your boundaries. Yes, even your honor student, angel child! Make sure your teen knows that you are an involved parent!
For example, our teen daughter began sneaking around, despite our forbiddance of dating. Since we had a monitor on her phone, we found out quite quickly and put a stop to it.
Our steps might seem drastic to some (homeschooling) but we did what was necessary to protect our child, and her future (now a full-ride scholar at LSU). Did preventing teen dating harm her? No, she’s now a 21-year-old mature enough for the consequences of dating and old enough to deal with them herself.
So the answer to the earlier question is: No, don’t relent or give in to your teen! Just like you wouldn’t let your teen move in with a friend, stay out all night, or drink alcohol, it is okay to just say no to teen dating!
Using Cell Phones to Your Benefit
If you have provided a cell phone to your child, and most people have in today’s world, it is prudent to monitor it closely. Don’t let ‘privacy issues’ deter you because ultimately, you are responsible for your teen! Some options are FindMyIphone and Bark.
As well, there are specific phones designed just for kids such as this one by VTech on Amazon. But the best bet is to first check with your cellphone provider for options that may already be included in your cell phone plan.
As mentioned before, we used a monitoring app on our daughter’s cell phone and yes, we discovered that even the most well-behaved teen will test boundaries, so keep that in mind!
Enlist Others’ Help
Sometimes your 13-year-old, 16-year-old, or child of any age, is ready to listen to someone else, even if they won’t listen to you. As a teen (or pre-teen) your child thinks he or she is THE ONLY deprived, no matter what the circumstance. Whether it’s not having the latest smart phone, car, or jacket, the pre-teen and teen years feel isolating for even the most popular kid.
So when you start talking about abstinence, you will need some outside support. And you’ll need to look no further than YouTube to find ‘cool’ examples of abstinence proponents!
From pro football player Tim Tebow to actress Tamera Mowry, you can find many celebrities who are outspoken about their celibacy. If that doesn’t impress your child, well- keep trying! Parents aren’t allowed to give up!
The Wrap Up
Raising children is going to require that you place yourself in some uncomfortable and unpopular positions. The sex-driven media that children see each day tells them a lie about what they must do and who they are. It is your job as a parent to let them know their worth, and that abstinence is the only way to protect themselves.
A 16-year-old has no place dating a child that is three years younger than them. It creates a host of problems for both children that could ruin their lives or open them to dangerous situations. Speak with your child about dating and how seemingly innocent situations could turn into trouble much quicker than they were expecting.
Even though today’s society may say that a relationship between a 13-year-old and a 16-year old could be appropriate in some circumstances, I hope I’ve made the opposite clear
Our job as parents is to support our children-teens included- in order to help them become successful, healthy adults, and teen dating, age gap or not, is best avoided in order to do this!