“At what age should I let my teenager date?”

Hi, everybody, welcome to Tips on Teens. I'm your host, Kent Toussaint, licensed marriage
and family therapist and founder and clinical director of Teen Therapy Center and also the
executive director of Child and Teen Counseling, both in Woodland Hills, California, where
I come to you live every Wednesday at noon to join you for lunch to answer your parenting questions,
and we've got a big one today. Today's question is, at what age should I let my teenager date?
All right, all of you parents out there. Are you screaming right now? Are you going Calgon? Take
me away not dating No, it will happen. Teenagers are attracted to each other and it happens.
We were teenagers once, too It's really important that we as parents get comfortable with the
fact that our kids will have Crushes they'll have sexual thoughts sexual feelings. And so when
it comes to what age we we allow our teens to date or not date, I think there's a different way to
look at it. I think it's not about an age because if you

try to legislate, you have to be this age or you can't do it. If your kid really wants to date someone,
they're going to do it behind your back. And then they're not going to have you as a source of support
and guidance. So instead, I think is we want to prepare our teenagers to be ready to date once
they have those thoughts and feelings and they have a partner who wants to date them too. Now
I know you're probably getting scared right now because you're thinking, wait a minute Kent,
my kid's not going to be emotionally ready for this. They're not emotionally ready to have such
strong feelings, to engage in any kind of sexual activity. They're going to lose focus on homework
and all that stuff and those concerns are all completely valid. I totally get that. So So, the
approach is not about setting limits, it's about educating your kids. And that starts before
they're teenagers, before they're having these crushes, before they're having sexual thoughts
and feelings, when they're 4, 5, 7,

10. You know, that's when you want to start talking about these things because that's when it's
not really heavy for kids. You can talk about educating your kid with them about sex, and it's
like talking about tying shoes. It doesn't have any weight or awkwardness to it. If you wait
to the 13, it gets really awkward now We as parents we may be awkward and it's important for us
to lead the way we have to get past that awkwardness so we have to work on ourselves to get past
that because if we're awkward that our kids are gonna be awkward and they'll never Come to us
for support and advice and that's what we want we want to be that source of support for our kids
when they do get in over their heads because Teenagers do because that's part of growing up part
of life So, how do we do that? We educate your kids about sex, sex education, sexual health, early
and often, because studies show that when kids are educated, they make smarter choices with
sex. They wait longer. They put more limits on

themselves. It's not this taboo, weird, mysterious subject that they just have to jump into
or they don't know what to do or what not to do, so they just kind of jump in and do it without thinking.
You want your kids making thoughtful choices. Secondly, it's not just about the the birds and
the bees. It's also about relationships and respect and how much are we as parents modeling
a respectful relationship at home. How much are we teaching kids that not only should they respect
the partner they're with, but also they should expect respect coming back. It's reciprocal
relationship and I think it's really important that we teach our kids that because that's the
biggest thing. That's more important than the sex education, because if there's respect,
then there's patience, and there's acceptance, and there's all that stuff, and they're probably
not being forced into situations they don't want to be into. And just like with homework, because
I know you're thinking, but Kent, homework! I get

it. We'll get to that right now. So, homework. You would set limits on homework and dating just
like you would homework and friends. If they want to go out on a Saturday night with their friends,
and they haven't finished their homework, maybe they can't go out because they didn't do their
homework. But, if they did their homework, then they get to go out, or they have their friends
come over. Now, you may also have a new rule of, hey, when your boyfriend or girlfriend's over,
you gotta keep the door open. That's a pretty standard rule, and that's kind of acceptable.
Will they try to find other places to make out? Probably. But you have to realize that they will
do that. But again, if they've been taught to respect themselves, respect their partner, they've
been taught sexual education, they're going to make wiser choices, because you can't control
them all the time. And I have parents say, well, why? Why would they go make out? Why would they
go kiss? Because it's fun! And it feels really

good, especially when you're 16, or 14, or 17, or whatever that age is. And it's new, and it's
exciting. It feels really good! And that's why kids do it. Same reason why adults do it. So, it's
important that we, again, set the boundaries, but also keep an open door, so kids can always
come back to you. Because when they are in over the head, they need you for support. For example,
with sexting. Sexting is a big deal. It's when kids are sending sexually explicit pictures
to one another of themselves. And it's really important that we talk to our kids, once they get
access to a phone, why that's inappropriate and the dangers of that. Because once they send
that picture out, that picture is gone. And that picture is in the ether. And anyone has access
to that picture if that other person chooses to share it. And they may think, but my girlfriend,
my boyfriend would never share it. It almost always gets shared to somebody. So, it's really
important that we be very clear on that. So, that is

dating. Again, there's no one age. We want our kids to have these experiences because they can
be overwhelming. Because we don't want them having their first dating overwhelming experience
when they're 22. I mean, not that it's horrible, but they're kind of behind the curve. If they
start dating when they're 22 or 25 and they've never dated, never gone through a breakup, they're
kind of behind the curve because the other person they're dating may had several relationships
by that time, and they may be more emotionally savvy. And so, you want to make sure that your kid
is having experiences with that net that you were offering, that emotional net, because you're
there to save them and support them and take care of them. So, that's our question for today.
Again, we can talk about this for hours and hours. It's a really big topic. I love this question.
Keep sending your questions in. If you have more questions about this or any other topic, please
email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter

.com or message us right here on Facebook. We'll answer it every Wednesday at noon here on Facebook
Live. Thanks again for tuning in and I'll see you next week. Bye -bye.

Most parents have very specific rules when it comes to letting their children date. What are your rules? When do you think it’s appropriate for your child or teen to start dating? This week’s #TipsOnTeens question is short and sweet and gets right to the point! Here’s the question:

“At what age should I let my teenager date?”

Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live.  He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com.  Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.