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Our kids are definitely too young to date, but I know that kids dating and the girlfriend and boyfriend talk are hot topics to talk about in the parenting world.

For now, our boys could care less about the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing.

They are into sports, building in the garage, reading new books and hanging out with our family and their friends.   They love spending time playing games with us and they look forward to their one-on-one nights every month. They know that they are too young to date and they’re not worried about it.

Our boys are almost teenagers.  Years ago, we started having these conversations with our kids.   Many times, children use the words ‘girlfriend’ and ‘boyfriend’ a little too loosely… and I wanted our sons to understand exactly what it means (and why it’s best to wait.) 

too young to date: raising your son to respect himself

How young is too young to date?

An acceptable dating age is something that each child’s parents need to decide. I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule. Some parents are okay with middle school dating, while others will let their teens date in high school.

I can remember growing up and not being allowed to date until I was 16.  There was an exception.  I was allowed to go on group dates as long as we both had friends with us.  We would meet up at the movies or the mall.  Sometimes we even met at the gym to play basketball.

A teen boy and girl posing for the camera.
Every parent will have a different opinion because we all have different life experiences, and THAT IS OKAY!

What is the average age to begin dating?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, on average, girls start dating around 12 and boys around 13.   The AAP suggests group dates as a way to transition from just being friends to one-on-one dating.

“The recent trend among early adolescents is for boys and girls to socialize as part of a group. They march off en masse to the mall or to the movies or join a gang tossing a Frisbee on the beach.  Don’t confuse group dating with double-dating or triple-dating. While there may be the occasional romantic twosome among the members, the majority are unattached.

Dr. Eagar, a pediatrician at Denver Health Medical Center reminds us that “The number-one benefit is safety,” for group dates.  “Going out in mixed groups also gives boys and girls an opportunity to just enjoy one another’s company, without the awkwardness and sexual tension that can intrude upon a one-to-one date.”

What is the suggested age to begin one-on-one dating?

The suggested age to begin one-on-one dating, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is 16 years old age.

As a general guideline, Dr. Eagar advises not allowing single dating before age sixteen. “There’s an enormous difference between a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old and a sixteen- or seventeen-year-old in terms of life experience,” he says.

“You might add or subtract a year depending on how mature and responsible your youngster is. Community standards might be a consideration.?”


Our kids need to know that they have worth as individuals

Before our children begin dating, they need to respect themselves.  This is so important.  It is our job, as parents, to teach our children at a young age that they are important.

They don’t need to do or say “the cool thing” to feel important! (the lessons that my mom and dad have taught us have been building blocks for my brother and I… read them here: 10 lessons I learned from my mom). 

I want to prepare my kids to be healthy and whole people now so that, eventually, they are prepared to be part of a healthy relationship. They’re just not ready for that kind of intimate relationship quite yet!

My kids have heard me say this again and again:

  • “You know that you are not allowed to have a girlfriend, right?  I know that you don’t have one, but I just want to make sure that you know that it would not be OK.   One day God will find someone for you, when you are older and Daddy and I tell you that you that it is OK.  So, if anyone asks you to be their girlfriend, you just let them know that you aren’t allowed to have one. “
  • I have talked to our older boys about how we do not kiss anyone (I shouldn’t have to talk to them about this, but with our society being the way that it is, I feel like I need to talk to our older boys about this.  With school starting back up, and our kids being around other children that are raised completely different from the way that we raise our kids, I felt like it needed to be said to our boys.)
  • I have told them that they are not allowed to watch shows that talk ‘disrespectfully’ about boys or girls.

Childhood crushes are normal, but kids dating each other shouldn’t be!

I know that it is normal to have crushes, but it is not OK to act on them at this age. Those actions are better left for a later stage of life. I want our kids to know that God has made his laws for us to follow, and that those laws are there for our good. That may seem old-fashioned to many of you, but it is how my husband and I have decided to raise our kids.

I can remember being in elementary school and friends of mine having boyfriends/girlfriends and kissing (& more!) , so I know that it is going on. I remember this going on when I was in first grade.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think an elementary school student is ready to start dating. Unfortunately, kids are exposed to conversations and ideas at such a young age due to TV, magazines, commercials, and friends’ conversations.

the girlfriend and boyfriend talk

Why we have decided that our kids are too young to date

  • I know that it may not be ‘cool’ or modern’ to be so conservative in our views, but this is simply how we want to raise our children.
  • I also have the good touch/bad touch talk with our kids from a young age.   I just give them a very basic description at first, and I continue to have this talk with them every few months. With the many horror stories that I hear, we are taking every precaution that we can.   These conversations, hard or uncomfortable as they may be, are necessary.
  • Lastly, our kids need to guard their hearts, as well.   I want our kids to feel as if they are giving themselves completely to the one that God has for them, one day… 

    “You’re gonna have all of me

    You’re gonna have all of me
    ‘Cause you’re worth every falling tear
    You’re worth facing any fear

    You’re gonna know all my love
    Even if it’s not enough
    Enough to mend our broken heart
    But giving you all of me is where I’ll start”
      ~Matt Hamitt


Because this has been on my mind, with school just around the bend  I wanted to share these books with you.


book recommendations

My book recommendations for teaching kids about relationships…

Book # 1

1). Teaching the Birds and the Bees Without the Butterflies:
A Stress-Free Guide for Parents on How to Talk to Young Children About Sex From a Christian Perspective.
teaching the birds and the bees

Book # 2

2- The Talk – I only recently heard about it, so I had to share it with you. I have not read this one myself (like the one above) but it is on my weekend to-read list, so perhaps you will add it to yours, as well. I liked it because it is geared towards younger kids.  Our oldest boys are 6 and 7 (almost 8) so I think that this book is going to be very helpful. I look forward to reading it.
biblical sexuality

Book # 3

3- The Boy’s Body Book:
the boy's body book

Book # 4

4.  Praying Circles: 
praying circles around your children
As Batterson says, “I realize that not everyone inherited a prayer legacy like I did, but you can leave a legacy for generations to come. Your prayers have the power to shape the destiny of your children and your children’s children. It’s time to start circling.”


You can find these books & other suggestions in my Amazon store right here


Do you think that the conversation of boyfriends & girlfriends is starting too young?   



Teaching Your Child to be Selfless:

selfless in a selfish world


I Wish All Moms Would Read This:

A group of people walking away from the camera in a field covered with grass.


It Was Worth It:

all worth it

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I totally agree! It starts waaaayyyyyy too young, and many parents seem to encourage it by talking about how cute it is in elementary! I hope to teach my kids my husband’s mind set before he met me. Basically, he had decided there was no point to dating until he was ready to get married, so I was the first person he dated in his sophomore year of college! There is just too much encouragement for kids to date to have fun, and that just isn’t the purpose!

  2. I agree with your post. I was incredibly shocked when my kindergartener came home saying that she and all her friends had a boyfriend. We had to sit down and have a long conversation.

    1. Thanks!! You are totally right- checked it & updated it. 🙂

  3. I love this! I feel the same way. I don’t care if it is considered old-fashioned. I will be looking at those books you recommended. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You’ll love them! 🙂 Same here- its a little old-fashioned, but I think they were wise and we can learn a lot from past generations. 🙂

  4. It is so refreshing to read there are others out there that have the same ideals and respect for God’s plan as my husband and I do in raising our children. We pray daily our two sons and our two daughters will find, when the time is right, spouses that have been lovingly and purposefully raised to know how wonderful life can be when we follow what God knows is best. I think it is wonderful you are raising your beautiful family this way. Thank you for sharing and letting all of us that read this post that feel the same as you know we are not alone, even though, on occasion, a glance around society might lead us to believe otherwise. Glad I came across your blog. God Bless!

    1. That was so sweet of you, Lori. Thank you! Your words mean more than you know. 🙂

  5. I too have kept my boys away from the “want” of a girlfriends. My oldest is 11 and has crushes and I have him tell me who he likes because I want him to ALWAYS tell me what girl he likes. That way I will always know the family she comes from. I have always let him know that I want to know her and the family. So that when the time comes and he does start dating there will be open dialogue between both families about how their dating will go. Also when he was 9 I read him Before I Was Born, which is another great book that tells kids Gods exact design for marriage then sex.

    1. Oh- thanks for that resource! I will look at that book tonight. 🙂

  6. I appreciated reading this. A little background on me: I rushed a bit and was a single mother at the age of 19. I remained single for many many years (no time to date, I raising my son, building my house, reaching career goals…). My son was in elementary school when he told me he had a “girlfriend”. I set a firm rule, he couldn’t date until I did! When he was 13 I met an amazing man who won my heart, but even then, I had had so many discussions with my son about the importance of waiting to be an adult and make adult moves, that he was a sophomore in high school before he had his first real girlfriend.
    My step daughter was texting late one night over the summer and I immediately questioned this… all googly eyed and grinning she announced that she was talking to her “boyfriend”. She is in elementary school. HE is in junior high!!! I was NOT ok with this. My step-son is friends with this kid, he has sleep overs, he (in my opinion) is NOT a good influence for our daughter. After speaking my mind on this, her dad finally agreed that the kid’s mom needed to also be on board with our “putting our foot down” decision. She disagreed and sees the behavior as an innocent crush. I was so disappointed in her lack of concern for her daughter’s innocence and for failing to protect our babies while they are still babies that I took it upon myself to have “the talk” with my step-daughter. 2 days later our little girl informed us that she decided she was too young to have a boyfriend! Triumph! One kid at a time.

  7. I appreciate this post. I am a father of a 2 year old girl and a 5 month old boy. My wife just sent me a video this morning taken by another mom at our church’s preschool where her son is talking about my daughter to his parents. Prompted by the mom, she asks him, “Who is this you are talking about again?” He says my daughter’s name. She responds, “And she’s your friend?” He says, “Well actually, she’s my girlfriend.” Mom responds “I see.”

    I want to be as charitable as possible to these parents, yet take a firm stance that this language is inappropriate for my 2 year old! She should not have language imposed on her that connotes romance or exclusivity for many, many more years. Any suggestions on a good way to engage this issue, since I have not met the parents? I feel even discussing “girlfriend/boyfriend” language with her will only perpetuate the problem as she has no idea what that language entails. I’m thinking that discussing with her that it is important to have many friends: little and tall, boys and girls, quiet and loud friends. God wants us to love and get to know all kinds of people! I think for this age the real issue boils down to the other family because the 2 year old has no clue what that language means and likely is only saying it because somewhere along the line he/she heard something by an older person and it became a special buzz word.

    Also, do you have any thoughts on the term “special friend?” I feel like that does not carry the connotation of romance or exclusion but allows for the kind of friendship at this age when two toddlers find another person (regardless of gender, race, etc) with similar interests.

    I am a bit caught off guard as this is happening even earlier than I anticipated. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated!

    1. I agree. I just term everyone as friends & tell our kids that when God is ready for them to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, they will be older. Until then, we all have friends. 🙂

  8. I know this is an older post but I just came across it and I’m so that I read it. It’s so refreshing to see others with the same ideals. I’m a Muslim and I really appreciated your take on it. Thank you so much. I hope you can update your post now that your boys are older. God bless you.