“Boys and girls who start dating at a young age may have more school and behavioral problems than their peers,” suggests a study to be published in the December issue of the Journal of Adolescence.
- Early Daters were defined as kids who began dating at approximately 11 ½ years of age. That would be the average age of a 6th grader.
- On Time Daters – The researchers considered the age of almost 13 to be “on time” for dating.
- Late Bloomers were classified as those starting the dating process at almost 15.
- Early Daters are ill-prepared to handle the emotional elements of a relationship. In addition they usually have no peers who are able to provide support since the “dating” group at this age was quite small. It is difficult for someone of this age to navigate a dating relationship.
- Early Daters are more likely to exhibit anti-social behavior. Those behaviors include things like lying, cheating, picking fights, truancy, disobedience, and running away.
- Why would parents allow their children to date at the age of 11½ ? Sadly some parents are simply not paying attention. Perhaps there is stress in the marital relationship that is distracting the parent. Maybe it is a single parent who is working two jobs with no energy left to monitor the kids.
- And/Or? There can actually be pressure parents feel from other parents. Giving into that pressure means kids date long before it is healthy.
- Finally… Some parents are simply reluctant to say “No” to their children. If that is the case, this reluctance probably began at an early age.
- The Take-Away – As a parent it is very important to honestly look at the problems involved in allowing your child to date at an early age. Social skills and healthy relationships can be developed in group situations. Church youth groups provide many opportunities for this.
- Editorial Comment – Let’s not put kids into adult situations before they are ready. It would seem our society is pushing our children forward too soon and holding them back too long.
What are your thoughts on early dating?