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When Should Children be Allowed to Start Dating?

They always want to start at a young age, but when is too young?

Each week, our council of experts and smart parents take your questions, give advice and share solutions in this parenting column. This feature will also be the place to drop in for a talk about the latest parenting hot topic.

So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with a topic and question:

Even in kindergarten I remember having a "boyfriend." Of course, it didn't get more serious than playing together at recess. But at a young age we learn that part of becoming an adult is dating. Though elementary school relationships don't really count, kids really do start worrying about that sort of thing in middle school. Or at least in my middle school they did.

When should children be allowed to start dating? And what boundaries do you set for young relationships?

Please comment in the box below, and check Norton Patch every Wednesday at 1 p.m. for this segment.

Sheila Gaudet June 16, 2011 at 12:20 AM
I think it depends on the individual child, but that middle school is probably the right age for kids to start "group" dating if they are interested. By that I mean situations where a boy might meet a girl at the movies as part of a group activity or something of that nature. I have an 8th grade son and we have had girls (mostly in pairs) at the house too. Rules....if it is anything at someone's house, parent must be home, and I embarrass him by coming to the house and introducing myself :) Must call if there is any change in plans (leaving one place to go to another). I think the biggest thing is that we have an arrangement that he can call me at anytime, from anywhere and I will pick him up, no questions asked. He will not be in trouble for calling no matter why. To me, safety is most important.
Aimee June 17, 2011 at 11:56 AM
My boys are still young so I can't speak from experience...but to actually 'go out on a date' is probably best when they are a jr/sr in high school. However, I think it's nice to have friends of the opposite sex. I always hung around with my guy friends starting in jr. high. As long as parents are home when the kids are there and you have open communication with your son/daughter. Also depends on the trust and maturity levels.

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