They march off en masse to the mall or to the movies, or join a gang tossing a Frisbee on the beach.
If anything, youngsters in the group spend as much time interacting with their same-sex friends as they do with members of the opposite sex. Ron Eagar, a pediatrician at Denver Health Medical Center, views group dating as a healthy way for adolescents to ease into the dating pool rather than dive in.Dating customs have changed since you were a teenager.The most striking difference is the young age at which children now begin dating: on average, twelve and a half for girls, and thirteen and a half for boys.However, you might not recognize it as dating per se.The recent trend among early adolescents is for boys and girls to socialize as part of a group.“The number-one benefit is safety,” says the father of two grown children.
Going out in mixed groups also gives boys and girls an opportunity to just enjoy one another’s company, without the awkwardness and sexual tension that can intrude upon a one-to-one date. Many of us feel that way when we imagine our son or daughter disappearing into the night arm in arm with a young lady or a young man. Eagar advises not allowing single dating before age sixteen.
At what age are children old enough to date “solo”? “There’s an enormous difference between a fourteen- or fifteen-year- old and a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old in terms of life experience,” he says. While parent-teen conversations must encompass the hormones, hydraulics and other biological aspects of love and attraction, equal time should be devoted to thoughtful discussions about love as the most powerful and heartfelt of all human emotions.
You might add or subtract a year depending on how mature and responsible your youngster is. Love is a subject of unending fascination for adolescents.
Topping their list of questions is, “How do you know when you’re in love with somebody?
” They are also genuinely curious about their parents’ courtship and marriage (“Mom, did you fall in love with Dad at first sight?
”) and, if applicable, divorce (“Dad, how can two people love each other for years and years, then stop being in love? Having an imperfect romantic résumé yourself does not disqualify you from initiating this conversation.