"Most people don't want their kids to marry their first boyfriend or girlfriend in life," said Dr. D, former dean of students at Marin Academy in San Rafael, host of the syndicated radio show "Family Talk with Dr.
Mike" and author of several books on teen-agers including Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers (Celestial Arts, ).
And whether it occurs any earlier in our society, especially as children today are bombarded by media images of dating and sexuality.
Perhaps the first thing parents need to know is that the term dating is hopelessly out of date.
From precocious puppy love in fourth grade to serious intimacy in high school, there are few topics that raise more anxiety questions for parents than dating.
child psychiatrist and author of the book, The Sex Lives of Teenagers: Revealing the Secret World of Adolescent Boys and Girls (Plume, ). It builds social skills, it helps lessen isolation and it helps them relate to people such as how to be intimate and how to be friends before having sex."Not only is dating a natural progression for adolescents, it's a critical factor in preparing them for the adult world.
By middle school, it's something to do to bug your parents.
The question most parents want to know is when they should allow their child to date.Experts on teen behavior weigh in with advice on how to listen, how to back off and how to set boundaries.In elementary school, dating is rarely more than a gussied up play-date. Your pig-tailed tomboy lost her baby fat and bears a dangerous resemblance to Britney Spears.
Or your Little Leaguer smells suspiciously like dads cologne and actually cares about his clothes. But how do you give them their freedom without losing some semblance of control?
"Teens are put off by the term," said Ponton, and prefer to say "hooking up." But they don't mean it in the sexual way that the term has become commonly associated with.