I had my first “boyfriend” in sixth grade, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Shocker: We broke up by early March. Like many teens, I moved from one guy to the next, hoping one would heal my broken heart. These relationships had far-reaching consequences and caused incredible damage to my self-image and self-esteem. Looking back, the disadvantages of teenage dating are enough that I don’t plan to allow my kids to date in high school.
I might sound a bit old-fashioned, but I’d like to think that my reasons for not wanting my children to date in high school make sense. Teen culture might change, but teen hearts won’t. Here are 3 reasons why my children (probably) won’t date in high school.
1. They are still learning who they are.
Trying to figure out who you are and what you want in life is hard enough, even before you add in the challenges of budding romances between hormonal teenagers. Today’s teenagers already have so much on their plates, and romances often serve as a distraction from the things that really matter. Plus, many teens struggle with body image and self-confidence. Immature romances only add fuel to an already burning fire.
2. They already have enough stress.
Breakups, school drama, social media optics—it’s a lot for one teenager to handle. Add that to the amount of pressure on teens today to be good at everything and accepted by everyone and it’s just too much. High school can be a great time to focus on developing healthy, lasting friendships with both sexes, but romance adds unnecessary stress.
3. They lack maturity.
Relationships are a marathon and teens’ hormones are built for a sprint. Without the maturity that allows adults to persevere when feelings have faded, or a strong, foundational friendship to fall back on, most teenage romances just won’t last.
This has several negative consequences for teens. They might develop an unhealthy self-image and lose self-esteem if they blame themselves for the breakup. To protect their own feelings from being hurt in the future, they might adopt a more flippant approach to dating in general. They might become depressed if their self-worth had been derived from the relationship. While most adults possess the maturity to weather a broken heart, most teenagers simply don’t.
But what if…
I’ve been a mother long enough to know that I should never say “never.” Maybe my kids will be the height of maturity at 16. They could meet a responsible, marriage-minded person who will convince me that the disadvantages of teenage dating shouldn’t apply to my kids. But probably not.
What’s your take on kids dating in high school?