June 24, 2002
Send us your questions
* When is the right time?
How's that shirnee and chayee?
Okay, I have one simple question: When do you think is the right age for a girl to
Abjee Fotti and Abjee Pari write:
Thanks for the simple yet very interesting question!
The abjeez believe there is no one rule that can apply to all girls (or boys) in
all circumstances. There are many factors to be taken into account in determining
when is an appropriate time to start dating. External factors include the culture/environment/society
in which the girls live in. For example, dating at a young age in the United States
will be accepted in a way that it may not in a culturally conservative country like
India. Similarly, dating rituals in big cities may be very different than what is
acceptable inthe countryside/rural areas.
However, more important than all that is the girl (or boy) in question herself. There
are different levels of maturity for teens of the same age depending on their upbringing,
level of education, and of course hormones!!! Many girls bloom later than others,
while others are interested in boys when their classmates are still playing at barbie.
And boys go through an even longer "girls are yucky" phase!
For parents, it is important to set limits just as they are allowing freedom. Instead
of issuing a categorical NO in response to your daughter's (or son for that matter)expressed
desire to "date", it is better to set limits on the type of dates allowed
according to age, maturity level, etc. Know your own child and use your common sense.
More importantly, teach your child to use THEIR common sense.
While night time or unmonitored dates would be definitely inappropriate for teeny-boppers
and more likely reserved for those in their late teens (and even then within limits
such as appropriate curfew and activities), school dances and birthday parties (with
adult chaperones and adults driving to and from) are probably a good compromise to
work out with those young'uns that want to "date". Remember, for many of
these teens, especially the younger ones, the idea of "dating" or "boyfriends"
is usually more delightful in an abstract sense than in a concrete one. Your kids
are going to go to school dances and birthday parties anyways. If they want to label
that as a "date" then where is the harm? Another good compromise is to
have the "date" at your house, under the supervision of parents. Again,
kids will hang out and watch TV or study together as a normal part of every day life.
If they want to put the label of "date" on it, let them!
For the older teens who have their driver's licence and are developing more serious
romantic feelings and want to go on real "dates" just like the movies,
it is important to always invite the date home to meet them, get to know them, give
them a sense of responsiblity. Also, curfew and the scope of activites should be
set with common sense.(movies, dinner, coffee and home by 12 on week-ends is a YES,
rock concert and underage dance club is a MAYBE, drug-filled rave at abandoned construction
site in the middle of the woods 50 miles from the city is a NO!)
The key is always good communication between parents and children. Especially the
younger ones. You have to help them through the rocky road of learning to interact
with member of the opposite sex step by step so they never fall into the trap of
doing something they don't want to, just because of peer pressure or misinformation.
All in all, it is better to discuss the issue with your children, setting appropriate
limits to their permission, instead of issuing a dictatorial "no" which,
as all teens know, is the trigger to sneaking out and lying. This would render them
more vulnerable to precisely the sort of danger you want to shield them from.
Abjee Pari and Abjee Fotti