Time to Let Your Son Start Dating: Considerations & Rules

At some point, your son will inevitably become interested in dating. It is essential to determine the age at which you feel comfortable with him entering the dating world and to set clear rules and expectations.

What age should I let my son date? What age you let your son date will depend on a variety of factors, but most parents aren’t comfortable with any type of dating until their son is at least 13. Even then, you need to take a lot of information into consideration to set appropriate limits.

Every child is different, so knowing your child’s needs and limits is essential. The maturity of your child and the types of dates you will allow should all be considered.

Allowing Your Son To Date – Considerations

There is not a set age when dating suddenly becomes okay for every boy. It depends on so many things, including the relationship you have with your son and his ability to follow your rules.

1. Maturity Level

Age does not determine maturity level. Some boys are ready to start group dates at 13, and others aren’t until they are 15 or 16. You need to think about everything dating can entail and decide if your son is mature enough to face it.

2. Ability To Be Responsible

If your son has problems with basic responsibilities at home, dating may not be something he’s ready for just yet. Dating requires a child to be responsible for their own behavior and to consider the feelings of the person they are dating. 

3. Age & Character of Other Person

Your son’s age is not the only thing that matters. The age of the person he is dating is also important.

Ideally, both kids will be close in age, and there shouldn’t be more than a three-year age difference between them, especially since some states have laws in place that prohibit this.

Know the laws in your state because if your son becomes engaged in sexual activity with someone, it can be illegal depending on the age of both kids, even if they are both under 18.

It’s also important to teach your son how to choose a date with good character. Whom your son dates can influence him, so make sure he dates people you would want him to have as friends.

4. Knowledge of Personal Safety

Your son needs to be aware of what a safe situation looks like versus an unsafe situation.

Not only does he need to make sure he knows what to do if he feels unsafe, but he also needs to know how to check in with his date to make sure they feel safe.

This is where conversations about consent and what to do in an emergency come in handy.

5. Your Relationship With Your Son

When it comes to dating, your relationship with your child is one of the most important things to consider.

You want to make sure your son feels safe to communicate with you and that he is comfortable having hard conversations when necessary. 

An open, honest relationship with your son will make the transition to dating so much better for everyone. Work on the relationship you have with him before he tries to develop intimate relationships with someone else.

6. Type of Dating in Question

What type of date your son wants to go on will help you determine what age is right.

If your son simply wants to date someone in name only, calling them a partner without really going on dates, there is little risk in that. Some kids start this as early as middle school.

When you actually allow him to go places with a date, make sure to start with group dates or supervised dates.

Having other people around will help your son not feel pressured to be a part of anything he doesn’t want to be. It’s also a great way to introduce kids to dating without all the risks of one-on-one dating.

The first time your son goes on a one-on-one date when he is old enough, it should be a daytime date.

Being out with someone during the day is less pressure and will help your son adjust to dating before going out with someone at night. Ideally, these types of dates should not happen until your son is at least 15 or 16.

7. Reasons Behind the Desire To Start Dating

Before you allow your son to start dating, you need to figure out why he’s asking you for this privilege.

While some boys may truly have an interest in a particular person that makes them want to date, others may have reasons that need to be discussed further.

Your son’s friends may have started dating, and he may feel pressure to keep up with what everyone else is doing. He may also know that a person likes him and not know how to say no to dating.

Make sure your son’s motive is right before he starts dating.

8. Emotional Stability

Dating comes with a whole lot of emotions, so you need to make sure your son is emotionally stable enough to handle them.

He may have to deal with heartbreak, rejection, or being the one to reject someone else. If he has trouble managing emotions, it might be best to wait on dating.

Close up of a teen boy and teen girl holding hands.

Discussions To Have Before Letting Your Son Date

Your need to make sure you have had conversations about sex, consent, and relationships before your son starts dating. If you don’t feel like your child is old enough to discuss these matters, then he definitely is not old enough to date.

It’s also important to address peer pressure and what your expectations for him are when he is out with another person.

Dating Rules for Teenage Son

  1. Always be honest about where you are going and who you are with
  2. Be home when expected
  3. Call if plans change due to an emergency
  4. Bring every date home to meet parents
  5. No one-on-one dates until 15 or 16

Related Questions:

Is 16 a Good Age To Start Dating?

For one-on-one dates, 16 is a good age.

While your child might do well on group dates or other activities until this point, 16 can be a good time to let your son start spending time with someone without requiring chaperones or a large group.

Still, it depends on the maturity of your child.

Is 14 a Good Age To Start Dating?

At 14, group dates or large social functions can be a good idea. This will give your son the experience of hanging out with someone he likes without the pressure sometimes associated with one-on-one dating.

Closing Thoughts

When your son dates is a choice you have to make based on what you know about your family and your child’s needs.

Remember that open conversations are vital to a healthy, trusting relationship with your son, and be sure to listen when he wants to discuss issues with you.