Should parents approve of who their teen dates?

Approved  photo by SeattleClouds.comAs most adults would agree; the changes one experiences through their teenage years are some of the most if not the most durastic changes throughout anyones life in many as one matures from childhood into adulthood. Part of that transformation is making decisions that might end up as big mistakes. As teens yearn for independence ready to grow up and eager to be on their own, the last thing they want is their parents getting involved in the extremely complex social life of a teen. Many of the life lessons that are learned as a teenager just can’t be taught. Some have to be experienced first hand. While parents are just showing care and concern, there is a point where they have to let their teenagers live their own life. Especially when it comes to who they date, teens may make the wrong decisions but that’s what is necessary for lessons to be learned.

While parents approving dates shows care and concern, they aren’t helping in the long run. Teens may not understand the reasons why their parents disapprove of a certain guy/ girl they are interested in dating. There is a proverb ” Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”( Unknown). Parents need  to guide their children through this experience; however, at a certain point they have to let them do it themselves. It’s inevidable that mistakes will be made, but thats part of growing up. In life mistakes will be made without a doubt, and parents approving dates avoids some of these mistakes. However, possibly the most beneficial part of this whole process of screwing up for teenagers is learning how to fix it and recover from mistakes. Parents won’t always be there , and when one “F”‘s up in life (as angry parents call it) they need to know how to get themselves out of that situation such as dating someone they maybe shouldn’t have. Holes will be dug and the journey out of the hole may be tough, but it’s an important climb that will make us stronger later in life.

There are lessons to  be learned, but there’s also privacy involved. Legally children are under their parent’s control until the age of 18 ; however, our sense of privacy as humans doesn’t follow the laws. Parents may have the experience of highschool, but everyone’s social life is different and in highschool it is an everchanging web of connections.  Unless one is that person in the center of the web, one really can’t understand how their life works. Teens need space sometimes especially when it comes to who to date.  Parents have to be confident that up to this point they have raised their child (now teenager) well enough, so that they can make their own decisions. It is almost like a test in school. The teachers tell the students what to do, how to do it, give examples, but on the test teachers have to let the students make a decision on the correct answer and hope they taught them well.

The journey through life can be a long and rough one especially without guidance, but some things just can’t be taught. Certain things need to be experienced first hand to really understand. If my dad were to tell me don’t touch a stove it’s hot, I’d know it’s hot and not to touch it. However, one day when I tell my kids don’t touch the stove it’s hot, the point won’t get across because I won’t understand it. Sometimes the best way to learn is to experience it yourself. Dating is one of those things. Otherwise everyone would marry the first person they dated and stay married for the rest of their lives. One cannot make the correct decision everytime, but by learning from mistakes judgement can be improved for future to make less mistakes. While it is preferable that mistakes are avoided sometimes knowing the reason behind why one’s parents may provide certain advice makes the advice more accepted with a verified reason behind it.

Teens and parents will forever debate about the balance between parents showing care and overprotectiveness. Some lessons can be taught, but others need to just be learned first hand .  Many times the recovery from those mistakes turns out to be beneficial in the long run. Parents are sometimes too worried about their kids messing up that it becomes controlling over their teenager’s life. Dating is one of the areas where many teenagers keep it as far away from their parents as possible in fear of dissapproval.  If judgment is what’s lacking in a teen, then maybe the parents messed up and didn’t teach their kids the right skills. Therefore, the parents don’t have confidence in their own parenting skills. Parents shouldn’t have to approve who their kids date if they trust themselves to raise their kids right. If the parents approve of their teens dating choice, well then that’s great. However, if they don’t approve, then so be it. It is not their life to live.  Teens are young adults and should be able to make decisions like them.

6 thoughts on “Should parents approve of who their teen dates?

  1. Austin, you make some good points about the value of learning first hand for greater understanding, but there are clearly times when it is wise to heed the advice of those who have learned the hard way before you, and save yourself a lot of time and unnecessary pain. You don’t need to get a third degree burn to learn not to stick your hand in the fire, you don’t need to total your car to learn to drive carefully, and you don’t need to reinvent every wheel when you can find youtube videos that will show you how to build wheels. Yes, you will make plenty of your own mistakes in life, everyone does, and I always say the most you can hope for in life is to not make the same mistakes twice. But one great value of parents (like teachers) is that they are a resource of mistakes that they and others have already made before you. Extending your “teach a man to fish” analogy, parental advice about whom to date or not to date IS like teaching you how to fish, which to keep and which to throw back. If I were to give you a fish it would be like, well, an arranged marriage. Hmmm, maybe not such a bad idea, although strict rules of whom you could and could not date might be tantamount to the same thing.

    But, I am not inclined to be involved in approving or even advising whom you should or shouldn’t date – at least not with any gravity – although I may let slip out some opinions here and there. It is natural to have opinions. If you were a girl, I would likely feel differently, but the reality of life is that there are different concerns for girls than for boys. Yes, it’s a double standard, and that is a whole different issue… but don’t be surprised if you need to be on your best behavior in front of your date’s parents to get THEIR approval – even if it is unsaid. Your life will be much easier if they like you; regardless of whether your date says she cares what they think (it always matters on some level).

    So, date who you want, be safe, respectful of her and have fun – and try not to get your heart broken. But you will. It’s part of learning by experience – more than enough pain to learn from – even if you date the “right types”. Now, I don’t expect you would start a relationship with a drug dealing drop-out with multiple tattoos, body-piercings, who is three years your senior and has a criminal record and a two year old child – or all bets are off! I may let you cross the street by yourself, but I won’t let you cross the highway with a blindfold on.

  2. “Now, I don’t expect you would start a relationship with a drug dealing drop-out with multiple tattoos, body-piercings, who is three years your senior and has a criminal record and a two year old child”

    Oh you weren’t supposed to find out about her….

  3. Austin, not even if she’s totally hot, rich and famous… unless she has season Blackhawks tickets!

  4. I’m glad you agree with me because as parents, you have been through it all before and are able to put yourself in my shoes. While I am unable to put myself in your shoes, due to the fact that I am not yet a parent. This creates less friction in the family when it comes to dating because we are both on the same page. It also gives me freedom to not have to worry about what if my parents do care who I date? Therefore, instead of picking someone to date who you (my parents) would necessarily like first I can find someone I like and then secondary someone that you would also approve of. It is also nice to have some freedom where you allow me to live my life to an extent until I mess up severely and then you put an end to it.

  5. Yes, I try to put myself in your shoes, but could only dream of putting myself in your skates!

  6. Pingback: Involving Parents in the Classroom #1 : Grading Girl

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