By Kristy MacKaben
She couldn’t help herself. Ellen Makar of Columbia just had to sneak into the movie theatre where her 13-year-old daughter was on her first teenage date. Sliding surreptitiously into a seat in the back of the theatre, Makar spied her daughter, Erica, and Erica’s first boyfriend sitting a few rows ahead.
“Sure enough they were making out,” said Makar. “I was trying to contain my rage. They were only in 7th grade!”
Six years later Makar can find some humor in the situation. But parenting Erica (now 19) through the teenage dating years wasn’t easy.
It all seems to sneak up unexpectedly on parents. One day a child is consumed with sports or music or art or friends. Then, all of the sudden, the opposite sex becomes the focus. Many parents of teenagers aren’t prepared to deal with dating or “going out” as most teens call it these days.
At what age should teenagers be allowed to date? How do you know whether your child is ready? Should there be dating rules? Parents often wrestle with these issues, and as many experts say, the answers to these questions are dependent on each child and situation.