We have always had the rule that our children couldn’t date until they were 16, but shortly before my daughters 16th birthday she was asked to prom. She was going to be 16 before prom so technically I had no reason to say no. I immediately panicked… I wasn’t ready for this! She gave me no indication she even liked anyone so I wasn’t prepared when she wanted to go to prom.
So I called my more experienced mom friends and asked what their rules were. I quickly realized the ones with the best kids had clear written rules that everyone understood. But, to my surprise most of them didn’t really have any rules at all, they just made them up as they went along.
So we sat all of our kids down and we made up rules together. Here’s what we came up with:
1. No dating until you are 16 years old. No single dating until 18.
2. Curfew is 10:00PM at 16, 11:00PM at 17
3. Do not date someone with different standards than you.
4. Attend only wholesome activities.
5. No immodest dress.
6. Discuss dating rules with each other.
7. Do not participate in kissing/hugging sessions or any other sexual activity.
8. Do not park.
9. Never go into a home or apartment alone.
10. Never go into a bedroom, bathroom or any other area that is segregated from family or a group.
11. No backrubs.
12. Do not lay down by each other or on top of each other.
13. Each partner is responsible for their own actions.
14. Treat each other with respect.
The first rule is clearly ours ~ we are the parents. Our kids were never allowed to say they had a boyfriend or girlfriend even in elementary and preschool. We just think it changes expectations and behaviors.
Both my husband and I had no dating rules when we were growing up. We pretty much did what we wanted when we wanted with whoever we wanted. Based on experience we know that isn’t how we want to raise our children. There are a lot of things in my past that I wish didn’t happen and wouldn’t have happened if I had some guidance and rules. We knew we wanted a clear set of rules so there was never a misunderstanding of what we expect not only of our children but also from whoever they’re dating.
We wanted all of our children involved so it was not just us making the rules and telling them to follow “our” rules. We want them to follow rules they set and be responsible for their lives. They’re more likely to follow them since they helped create them.
When our children date we make sure their date understands our rules also. We make it clear to them that we value our child and we expect them to value him/her also. They also knows that dating our child is a package deal. They comes with a family and most of the dating will happen with a chaperone from our family.
Most parents don’t know how to help their children navigate dating so they do nothing and handle things as they happen. Unfortunately, if you don’t have rules from the beginning, it’s hard to set rules later. Talk with your kids at a young age and let them know the rules and expectations. Our kids have thanked us more than once for not letting them date or claim to have a boyfriend/girlfriend. It takes so much pressure off them if they don’t have to navigate those relationships at a young age. Yes we realize they will have crushes and like different people. We aren’t telling them they aren’t allowed to have feelings, they just aren’t allowed to act on those feelings before they turn 16.
I hope you’ve found these rules helpful and it inspires you to come up with your own family rules. If you do, I’d love for you to share them with me. You can share them in the comments or contact me privately. Click here to download a copy of our family dating rules.