Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Group dating for young people
Many of these young “couples” still don’t spend a great deal of time together and many of these relationships are emotionally unsophisticated and short-lived. As a parent of three girls, I can say “Thank goodness for that!”
Parents shouldn’t be paranoid about allowing some of these gatherings to happen. However, good supervision should always be in place. Know where your child will be and who else will be there. Get to know the parents of the children in these groups if you don’t already. Get to know the child your child is interested in – even if he or she tells you that’s not a cool thing to do.
For the younger pre-teens, always be sure there is a chaperone or responsible adult at or near the group activity, such as shopping at the same mall, sitting at a different but accessible location at the same movie, etc. Have predictable rules and guidelines for “going out,” such as curfews, policies for where they are allowed to go and what they are allowed to do.
Many group dating activities can be useful in helping your child to develop important social and relationship skills before there is the pressure and desire to spend a lot of time alone together. Facilitate these opportunities by making suggestions for acceptable places to go or offering to drive - even if your child gets embarrassed when you talk to his friends in the car – as though you don’t have a single brain cell in your head!
Pre-teens should not be encouraged to participate in one-on-one dating. They are generally too young to fully understand the potential consequences of giving in to the pull of their curiosity and/or their biology.