Parents' perspective on dating and teens
By Jody Dworkin and Jamal Abdulahi
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When we were in Somalia, dating took
different forms. In the rural areas, boys were in charge of raising
camels and girls raised the goats and sheep. Young people met when
the animals were grazing on the same land. In the cities, young men
would visit neighbors to see the daughters. It was usually assumed
that this was a serious relationship that would lead to marriage. In
other cases, the parents arranged marriages, so dating did not take
Here in the United States, dating also
takes several forms. When a child reaches age 12, they may talk for
long hours on the phone. A child may correspond with males and
female friends through the computer. They may spend more time with
friends. Thus, it is important to talk to your teens and to monitor
their activities, because parents want their teens to be safe.
Here are tips for monitoring your
- Be clear about your family values
on dating. At what age can your teen date? Research finds that
girls who date men who are much older are more likely to use drugs
and alcohol and to engage in early sexual behavior. However, this
doesn't indicate that dating means young people will have sex.
- Know whom your teen is dating.
- Know where your teen is going on
a date and what he or she plans to do. Will it be a group date or
as a couple?
- Set guidelines for where, when
and how often your teen can go on dates.
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Clarify how you would feel if the relationship is serious or if
you dislike the person your teen is seeing. Try not to jump to
conclusions about what dating means. You have an important
influence, and it is good to talk with your teen about important
[Jody Dworkin and Jamal
[University of Minnesota College of
Human Ecology, University of Minnesota Extension Service, University
of Wisconsin-Madison -- "Positive Parenting of Teens" publication]