One of the three most common questions I’m asked by moms is: “What is the appropriate age for my daughter to begin dating?”
My response? There is no “right” age.
But I do believe there are three better indicators to help you decide when it’s time to give your daughter her dating independence:
- Maturity Level – The reality is, the younger your daughter is when she begins dating, the longer she’ll have to manage her romantic feelings and hormones. Let’s be real, it takes a certain maturity level to be able to balance those adolescent hormones and feelings in a healthy way. So, if you have any doubts about your daughter being mature enough to handle that, regardless of how old she is, it’s best to hold off on serious dating until you believe she is. No matter her age. And be sure to sit down with her to discuss ways she can demonstrate that she’s reached the maturity level to earn her dating independence.
- Responsibility Level – A friend told me that his daughter’s ability to date wasn’t based on her age, but rather on her ability to demonstrate that she was responsible. And I totally agree. Is your daughter responsible in completing her chores consistently without you always having to remind her? What about smartphone usage? Does she handle herself responsibly via texting and posting online? If your daughter is good about demonstrating responsibility in these areas to your satisfaction, chances are she’s ready to begin dating.
- Level of Self-worth – I cannot stress this enough. It’s so important to make sure that whenever your daughter begins dating, she doesn’t look for someone else to validate, affirm or complete her. Her life should already be “complete” before she begins dating. Whether that comes from you and the rest of the family loving and supporting her, from pursuing her gifts/talents via extracurricular activities, or from having and maintaining healthy friendships with other girls as child psychologist, Dr. Alduan Tartt recommended here. Based on this gauge, a 16-year-old may be in a better place to begin dating than even an 18-year-old.
I understand why so many moms ask me what the “right” age is to allow their daughters to date.
Unlike getting a driver’s license, there is no age eligibility for teen dating.
There’s also no dating exam your daughter can take to help you determine if she’s ready.
But you can carefully consider your daughter’s maturity level, responsibility level, and level of self-worth to determine whether she’s ready for dating independence.
And come to think of it, those are probably good indicators of teen driver readiness too!
What other determining factor(s) will or did you consider when it comes to your daughter being allowed to date?
Please share your feedback in the comments below!