While teenagers may embrace dating as one more step in the continual process of growing up, parents may have a very different perspective and opinion about it. Parents may decide they don’t approve of teen dating for a variety of reasons, but all usually come down to either the physical or emotional safety of their child.
Kids younger than age 14 don’t possess the emotional maturity and social skills necessary for dating, states the Iowa State University Extension. At this tender age, a child doesn’t have a firm personal identity in place -- meaning she just doesn’t have a firm enough grasp on who she is, what she likes and what she doesn’t like. Lacking this foundation, a youngster might not have the ability to stay strong and healthy in a dating relationship.
Sexual activity is one of the obvious parental fears of parents. With today’s technological advances, teenagers are becoming more creative in the ways they engage in sexual activity, warns the WebMD website. Sexting with a cell phone -- sending pornographic images or engaging in suggestive conversations -- is a real possibility. Teenagers also have different views about what constitutes sexual activity, with many youngsters choosing to engage in oral sex, believing that it doesn’t “count” as intimacy. The impacts of sexual activity can be major, including pregnancy and illness.
The prevalence of dating abuse is frightening, with over 50 percent of U.S. teenagers having some sort of exposure to dating abuse, states author and psychologist Anita Gurian, with the New York University Child Study Center. The abuse may include physical harm or even just the threat of physical harm. Dating abuse also includes psychological harm or the threat of it, including overt control tactics and humiliation.
Spending time in a dating relationship as an adolescent can lead to significant emotional upheaval, warns the Education.com website. Parents may begin to notice grades dropping, a change in a teenager’s academic goals and school delinquency. Teenagers may experience depression and anxiety in connection with a dating relationship -- especially if a breakup occurs. Teens pursuing a dating relationship usually search for companionship, intimacy, affection and a social confidante.