Mama Mantra: No Dating Until High School

Posted October 5, 2018 by Prairie Wife -

talk to your children

I know this will be a touchy post for some, but I wanted to chat about dating.

The Cowboy and I spent a lot of time talking about what we pictured for our family before we had kids.

Many things have completely changed when reality hit (our kids won’t play with our phones is one that comes to mind), but this rule is one that we still feel strongly about.

No dating until High School.

I’m not saying our middle schoolers can’t attend dances or group events with friends.

Not at all.

Those fun things like football games with buddies are the stuff of fond memories for both The Cowboy and I.

I’m talking about boyfriend/girlfriend stuff.

One-on-one dates, time spent at someone’s house watching a movie together, and exclusive dating.

In our family, this is not going to happen until High School.

If you disagree, that’s fine, do what works for your family.

If you scoff and roll your eyes and say, “They’re going to do it anyway.” I’m going to kindly reply, “I don’t think so.”

middle schoolers

I think allowing group situations and dances, and the kind of monitoring we do of their phones, not to mention the small town we live in will result in them following our rules.

We feel strongly that it’s important to give our children bits of independence at a time, building and building on as they gain in age and experience. The fact that we reserve the right to take those privileges away based on behavior is clearly explained.

We’ve taught our children that the purpose of dating is to have fun but that the endgame when you’re an adult is marriage. So it’s important that they understand that making the commitment to be one person’s boyfriend/girlfriend isn’t to be taken lightly.

As they get older (our oldest is only 12), we plan to discuss in more detail the physical aspects of exclusive dating and what we feel is appropriate for them.

When the Cowkids enter 5th grade, we begin to talk to them about this rule. We explain our reasons, ask them to chat a bit about what they’ve noticed about their peers who are already dating (that it usually lasts a day or two and more often than not is surrounded by drama and results in hurt feelings), and teach them how to respectfully yet firmly turn down requests to be someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend…and yes this has already been a situation.

family eating

So far we’ve had the majority of these conversation is a mostly casual way at the dinner table.

It helps the littler Cowkids to listen to these conversations. I want them to know that crushes and dating are normal and healthy but that there must be boundaries and different levels of dating based on age/maturity.

We also discuss how they should turn to each other for advice and support but have a responsibility to inform us (or another trusted adult) if they have concerns about their siblings’ behavior. With kids who are two years apart, we’ve also explained what it means to respect each other’s privacy and not share details from home with friends.

When they find someone they’d like to date exclusively, they need to let us know. We will then have them and their family over to dinner (or out to a restaurant) to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Not only will this ensure that the parents know we are involved and care (and are aware their children are dating), but I hope something like this will ensure that they really put a lot of thought into who they date.

I admit we are just tip-toeing into this situation.

I reserve the right to adjust and change based on our children’s needs, but I think this is an excellent place to start.

I think the key is to talk about it, talk about it some more…and talk, talk, talk again.

NOTE: Now that we are more than 4 years into having Cowkids, who are old enough to date, I can confirm that this has been the right choice for our family. I can also confidently say that having their boyfriend/girlfriend and their family over for dinner when they’ve decided they’re ready to date exclusively has been an important part of ensuring we ALL have the same rules and expectations! Even if the relationships haven’t lasted, it created a culture of open communication and clear rules between us, our children, and the parents of the person they’re dating that has been really good not only while they dated…but afterward too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, are we being too strict, or not strict enough?

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