In today’s world, it’s almost a given that your tweens will date, let alone teenagers. And almost everyone who even questions the appropriateness of kids dating focuses on just daughters, but what about sons? How does dating affect sons? And when should you let your son date?
The unexpected answer to ‘when should I let my son date’ is that you shouldn’t. Though it’s against the norm, kids are not mentally, emotionally, or financially ready for the consequences of dating, nor is it beneficial. This is why it’s best for both sons and daughters to wait until adulthood.
As a mom of two adult kids and two others on the way (three sons and a daughter), I’ve dealt with the dating issue several times. And every time, we’ve had our kids wait. I know this bucks current trends and seems impossible, but it’s not.
Read on and I’ll share with you our experience with kids dating, with some tips and suggestions for your own family, while focusing specifically on sons since that topic is rarely addressed.
- What to Know About Your Son Dating
- Do you have a say about your young adult son dating?
- Is Group Dating Okay for Sons?
- The Takeaway for Letting Your Son Date
What to Know About Your Son Dating
So should your son date? What does it mean for sons to date? Usually the focus is on daughters, but what about sons?
The best scenario is that your son does not date until adulthood, when he’s more able to deal with the mature situations dating brings. And despite current trends, information from numerous research and specialists actually backs this up. Dating is not beneficial if done too soon.
A book I highly recommend that goes into dating and relationships in depth is Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights from John Paul II’s Love and Responsibility by Edward Sri, a noted theologian and writer. It’s an approachable meditation on the classic work of Fr. Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), which was published as Love and Responsibility in 1960.
I’ll tackle this issue more in depth (below) relating it to sons of different age groups dating and the associated problems that accompany it.
You’ll also probably enjoy these other articles about kids dating after this one:
- 16-Year-Old Dating 13-Year-Old? Is It Appropriate?
- What Age Should I Let My Daughter Date? (It’s Surprising)
- Why Dads Ask ‘What Are Your Intentions With My Daughter?’
Should tween sons be allowed to date?
The issue of dating doesn’t usually present itself until middle school age. This is generally 11-13 years old, often called ‘the tween years.’ Even though many parents today think it’s harmless, and even ‘cute’, is it okay for your tween son to date?
Tween sons, those under 13 years old, should not date. It is not harmless, nor is it cute. Research says that children this age are not developmentally ready for romantic relationships and entanglements, but also the consequences from dating too soon can be life-altering, and not in a good way.
Even pretending or play acting ‘boyfriend and girlfriends’ should be avoided because it grooms sons to thinking it’s okay behavior.
So to be absolutely clear, your tween sons should not date nor should they pretend to have a relationship. And barring outliers, it’s generally the furthest thing from their minds anyway.
In fact, if your tween son is interested in dating, it should send off alert bells to you that something is amiss. Don’t ignore the issue, though! You need to talk with him about why he wants to date. It may surprise you his intention or it may lead to something you needed to know about, like someone’s undue, harmful influence!
TIP: If your tween or teen son is having problems accepting your ‘no dating’ policy or is experiencing a lot of negative pressure from school, I highly suggest you look into home schooling him. As a retired teacher, I can vouch for the homeschool method. Not only is it effective for academics, it really helps mitigate the peer pressure effect.
Should I let my 13-year-old son date?
By the time our sons and daughters are 13 or 14, they’ve been conditioned to think dating is the norm. This is especially true for boys because even though research says differently, people think boys are ready for dating young.
Parents should not let their 13-year-old sons date. Research shows that the earlier teens date, the more likely they are to deal with teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and dating violence. If your 13-year-old isn’t ready to deal with these issues, then he shouldn’t be dating.
Some statistics to remind you why your 13-year-old shouldn’t date:
- Teens are much more likely to experience violence and abuse if dating.
- Early dating leads to teen sex.
- Boys who have more female friends are more likely to lose their virginity earlier than boys who don’t.
- Preteen boys with older friends are more likely to have sex younger.
- Earlier ‘steady dating’ increases the chance of teenage sex.
Should I let my 15-year-old son date?
So if it’s clear that 13-year-old boys shouldn’t date, what about 15-year-olds? Are 15-year-olds mature enough to date?
Parents of 15-year-old sons should not let them date. Just like with all teens, 15-year-old boys are not mentally or emotionally ready for dating. Dating at an early age presents issues that kids aren’t able to handle properly. And considering they can’t even drive, it’s best that dating waits, too.
The same statistics that make dating for 13-year-olds inappropriate can be applied also to 15-year-olds. Boys at this age aren’t mature enough to deal with teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, or even the emotional turmoil that comes with dating.
Why let your son go through that? Even the best ‘dating situation’ isn’t worth it for your teen!
Should I let my 17-year-old son date?
For many, it seems ‘a given’ that your older teen will date. Many parents think they have no choice but to let their 17-year-old son date, but this is not the case. Parents can and actually should say no to teen dating because even at 17, sons are not able to handle the issues and consequences of dating.
It’s recommended parents say no to their 17-year-old son dating. From 17 to 19, older teens are still unequipped to handle the emotional issues and consequences that come with dating. In fact, research has shown that crucial parts of the brain are not developed until after age 24.
Many think that since 17-year-olds can drive, they should be allowed to date. But are dating and driving equitable? It’s comparing apples and oranges.
Even the most mature couples must deal with control issues, jealousy, financial disagreements, and so on. It’s quite a toll coming together on these issues and that’s why many relationships fail. Of course, teens aren’t ready, and who could expect them to be? Their hormonal changes, underdeveloped brains, and life experiences are just some reasons they aren’t.
Some people think that dating prepares teens for future relationships. That’s not true.
In actuality, teen dating doesn’t prepare them at all. It just gives them a way ‘to learn’ by trial and error (because let’s face it, teen relationships are fraught with error!), which leads to scars! And then they spend years trying to heal those wounds from dating too soon!
Let your teen learn about relationships from observing healthy adults around him, like his parents, grandparents, and others you trust.
Do you have a say about your young adult son dating?
Yet, there’s a big change once your son is a young adult. Now’s the time to loosen the reigns and for him to explore dating. How is dating different for your 20, 21-25 year-old son, then?
Dating for young adult sons is acceptable and encouraged. Since the brain is fully developed at age 24, young adult sons are mentally and emotionally able to handle dating issues. It’s best to be financially ready for relationships too, since dating can lead to marriage and children potentially.
This is generally the most accepted time, however, for parents to take a backseat to their sons’ decisions, thinking they have no say. While it’s true that young adult sons are of full decision-making age and responsible for themselves, parents should still feel confident to offer advice and suggestions.
In reality, young adulthood is the time when your children need you the most, even if they don’t agree.
Your kids this age don’t need you like they did as toddlers, tweens, or teens. But they still need you.
It’s likely your son has graduated college and is even living outside your home. But adult sons need you as parents. They need to continue a relationship with you and you need to continue to foster their growth through guidance, suggestions, discussions, and by example.
Young adulthood is the time for making major life decisions…decisions that can have a long-lasting impact on them (and you, by extension). Now is the time when your son might join the military, go to or drop out of grad school, or decide to get married. Young adults need the wisdom of their parents before, during, and after making these big life decisions!
So while you can’t and shouldn’t be involved in the direct dating choices of your young adult son, you can be indirectly. As well, the parenting practices up until now have and will continue to have great influence over his dating life, even if he doesn’t know it.
Is Group Dating Okay for Sons?
As far as group dating, it shouldn’t change anything as it relates to teen dating. Some have argued that permitting group dating should make teen dating ‘okay’. No, no, and no!
Group dating doesn’t make tween or teen dating okay. Despite myths that group dating is safer, it still holds the same risks and negative consequences as non-group dating. Putting ill-equipped tweens and teens in group dating situations only compounds the problems, not eliminate them.
Teen sons in group dating scenarios are just as likely to deal with abuse, succumb to peer pressure, and/or end up in having to deal with harmful consequences as those in 1:1 teen dating situations. For that matter, putting a bunch of teens together without adult supervision likely increases the chance!
Please keep this in mind because your tween or teen will probably suggest group dating as a compromise, but don’t fall for it!
The Takeaway for Letting Your Son Date
It’s hopefully clear now that the unexpected answer to letting your son date is that you should never let your underage son date! Or maybe the big ‘surprise’ to know is that the only time to let your son date is after reaching young adulthood.
Keep in mind that even science supports this, as the brain isn’t fully developed until age 24!
And while some have argued that dating as teens prepares your son for adult relationships, the best preparation is by observing the healthy adults around him, such as his parents, grandparents, and other trusted friends and family.
Kids aren’t emotionally, mentally, or financially ready to deal with dating consequences (such as sex and pregnancy), so they shouldn’t date until they are.
More articles you should check out about your kids dating: