|By SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget – Flickr: Teens sharing a song, CC BY 2.0|
Now, when I think about the idea that someday any one of my teen daughters is going to date someone older than she is, I have my apprehensions. First of all, I don’t think they should be dating at that age. Probably, I would allow it if they are at the right age, maybe after finishing college.
When I was still a teen, I dated someone who was older than I, so I know it’s not the best situation to be in. I learned my lesson and just concentrated on my studies. After I finished college, I was ready to date. I did date older men again and got married to one. This decision is something I don’t regret because I found him at the right time.
For teens, here are some things to think about before you actually date someone older. Parents should know this, too, to know how to advise their teen kids.
A teen’s body may look like an adult’s, but his or her brain is not yet like an adult’s mind until he or she reaches the early twenties. The parts of the brain that control impulses and the ability to think ahead are the last things in a person to develop.
1. The body’s appearance is ahead in development than the brain’s.
This could likely cause a problematic situation when a teen spends time alone in a room with an older date, whose probably expecting more physical contact than what a teen should ever get into.
For some parents who would allow their teens to date, a good rule of thumb is not to let them date somebody who is a year older than he or she is while still in the teenage years.
2. Maturity levels do not match.
This keeps the maturity levels of both individuals at about the same levels. Of course, this does not hold true at all times, but the greater the gap between two persons, the greater the chances that your maturity levels won’t match.
The big problem when allowing your teen to date someone older is the possibility that the guy will use his age and experience to engage in heavy petting and sexual acts while dating. What if the person has already gone all the way, and expects it from the teen, too.
3. Immature exposure to sexual abuse.
Parents need to prepare their children for such possibilities, which may happen even when they are past their teen years. Teach them to confidently say, “no,” if they find themselves in such an uncomfortable situation.
Dating someone years older also increases the chances of exposure to smoking, drugs and alcohol. Some younger teens probably know how to get their hands on these items, too, so parents should watch out who their kids hangout with. But dating an older person doubles or triples the likelihood of coming into contact with smoking, drugs and alcohol especially when attending house parties or social events with him.
4. Exposure to smoking, drugs and alcohol
So, should teens date a much older person? I think they should not date at all. That’s what my husband and I, as parents, want to teach our kids and will try to stand by that standard.
For parents who allow their teens to date, just remember that a couple years difference in age between your teen and a date are substantial when it comes to maturity levels and experience. Before dating, make sure that your teen understands this to lessen the chances of being put in a compromising situation.