Parents may joke that it’s an experience they want their child to have -- just not until somewhere around the age of 30. A 6th grade girl may say, "Jacob is my boyfriend," but what does that mean?
Seriously, though, when is your child ready to date? "At this age, kids use dating labels but aren’t ready to have much direct one-on-one interaction beyond maybe sitting together at lunch or recess," says Dale Atkins, Ph D, a family therapist in New York.
"Most of the activity happens in a pack, and communication takes place between friend groups." By 8th grade, dating probably means talking on the phone and hanging out, usually in groups.
By high school, kids are more likely to develop serious romantic attachments.
RELATED: Living with a mood swingin' tween To get any personal info on your teen's dating, it's usually helpful to have some "grapevine" info to start with, like, "I heard that you and Sarah were going out … I'd rather hear the real scoop from you than have to rely on gossip." But don't expect a big download. Just because another mom has a Chatty Cathy, that doesn't mean your Clam-up Kid is "less close" to you. Younger teens usually pursue their romantic interests via texts and third parties who scout out whether the other party is interested.
All we can do is try to strike up conversations that may give us some clues over time. Younger teens may "go out" (meaning: explore the idea of being a "couple") and break up and never even have a face-to-face conversation.
Next, I will share our approach to teens and dating. (and a sub-topic of course would be birth control if he is planning to be sexually active.) 7.
Michelle Anthony, Ph D, a developmental psychologist and learning therapist in Denver, suggests an opening line like: “It sounds like a lot of kids are talking about dating now. ” If you can't tell what dating means to your kid, try discussing dating as shown on TV shows or in movies that are age-appropriate.
Before you hit the panic button, heed the advice of clinical psychologist Dr.
Laura Kastner, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, and author of Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens. What are the best strategies for opening up a dialogue about dating? Start on the outside of the topic of socializing, and hunt and peck.
This is where the parent network can really come in handy.
Parents should tune into the grapevine: Your teen may not be talking, but usually one of them is.