Fathers of teens might feel a little nauseous at the thought of our child going out on a date. But it’s normal and natural – if not always comfortable. We’re here to go through those feelings with you.
We rounded up the Dads of Teens (and beyond) Brigade to lend their support and kid-tested advice. Here’s what they had to say:
- 16. By in large, dads said that 16 was the minimum age they would allow their children to go out on a date. Some dads said not until they were adults, but this is the 21st century, so…
- Talk. Talk. Talk. This is a point we come back to a lot because, well, it’s important. Having open discussions, particularly around really uncomfortable stuff (we’re looking at you birds and bees), is valuable and essential. It keeps communication open so if something does come up, your kids feel comfortable coming to you – instead of trying to hide what happened.
- Start with groups. Several dads mentioned that they only allowed group outings in the beginning until they felt comfortable their child would follow the rules and be responsible. They also encouraged other dads to really get to know the other child’s parents as if they were your friends.
- Get buy in. At the onset of dating, sit kids down and have them set their own boundaries. One dad reported that he did this and was surprised at how conservative the “rules” his daughter set were—what time she should be home, where she could go, and consequences if she broke the boundaries. This tack ensured his daughter felt like her opinion was valued.
- Supervise. Yes, sometimes supervising your children around people they like is going to feel…weird. We’ve mentioned this in other Lead Dad Library entries, but monitoring your kids’ tech is okay (and encouraged) and having them keep their door open when “friends” are over is also okay. It’s your job to give them space and trust them, but it’s also your job to keep them safe and help when they need it.
- Be a safe space. Kids are going to make mistakes (you remember being a teenager). The best thing we can do for them is to constantly remind them that we want to be the first call when something bad happens. It doesn’t matter what it is – the consequences can be sorted out later – but we as parents want to be their safe space in those times of trouble.
We know this time as a parent can be stressful and overwhelming, but we hope these insights are helpful in your teenage parenting journey. If you enjoy articles like this, and more dad-focused content, please sign up for our newsletter, ‘The Dad’!
Thank you to our dad contributors for this article: JimmiRustle, JeffTheComposer, pennypacker-HE, Goodolbeej, triton2toro, justnilt, nebwar, masteroflight, intrepidstranger2659, Oldandaching1, Casper480, Spiritual-cow-1627