When should I allow my daughter to date?

Dating is a big part of a teenager’s life, and that’s our cultural way for kids to get to know each other and hopefully find the person they are ultimately going to marry. 

But I’ll tell you what. Age is very important. In fact, age makes all the difference in the world, when you introduce single dating to a kid. 

Now, let me separate between single dating and group dating. With our kids, we could never stop them from liking somebody—nor would we want to. Hearts get attracted. That’s fine. We said, “You can like anybody you want. You just can’t really do anything about it until you are sixteen.” 

And here’s why. 

Some great work was done by Josh McDowell in a campaign that he did, and he found out that the younger a kid starts dating, the more apt they are to lose their virginity by the time they graduate from high school. Well, this just makes sense, but the numbers were extraordinary. If your kids starts at twelve years old dating somebody, they have a 93% chance that they are going to lose their virginity by high school. At fourteen, it’s 53%. I mean, that’s a 50-50 chance. Those aren’t good odds. If you wait until they are sixteen, it’s down to 20%. 

You say, “Well, one of the reasons why is there is not too many years left before they graduate.” Well, it’s more than that. It’s maturity. See, maturity matters when it comes to dating. 

When you figure a year’s time—365 days in the life of a young person—it’s an amazing amount of maturity that’s happening in that time. See, one year of my life is just a small little proportion of it, but when I was back to twelve, thirteen years old, when it represents 8%-9% of your life, well, that’s a lot of growing up. 

And so, when you have your kids wait until they are older, you set them up to make far better choices, be able to resist more, and have a better goal in mind for what they want to have when they finally get married. 

And let me say something of dads. Dads, it’s our job to run interference for our kids. We need to sit our boys down when they start to date, and tell them, “This is what I expect of you when you take a girl out. You don’t take her places she doesn’t belong. You don’t take her to parties where there’s drugs or alcohol or anything she is going to be exposed to that is going to undermine her. You don’t take her to places that are unsafe. And you treat her with respect. She’s not your wife. Her body is not your property. You keep your hands where they belong. You show respect for her.” 

And then, I think our job as dads is to do the same thing for the guys who come knocking on the door to take out our daughters. And that’s what I did with my daughters. You don’t have to intimidate them. You don’t have to be cleaning your guns and all that stuff. That’s kind of fun bravado, but when you sit down, heart-to-heart, and say, “Look. We did not raise this girl by accident. We were very deliberate about it, and we wanted to raise her up to be an extraordinary woman and a great wife someday. I see why you are attracted to her. But as you take her out, please know I expect you to treat her with respect, to make sure that she is always safe, to make wise choices, and to keep your hands where they belong. And I expect her to do the same with you. And should this not work out, I assume that you are just dating, and I don’t assume any future out of this, but if you guys get really attracted and it doesn’t work out, I expect you to be reverent and kind to her feelings if you have to break up, and I expect her to be reverent and kind to yours, too.” 

When they knew that was the rules going in, it made it a whole lot easier to get through life. Dads say, “Well, I’m scared to death to do that.” Well, you know, I don’t want to be blunt, but we need to cowboy up on this one. We are the men. We are called to this. We’ve got to be gatekeepers for our kids. We’ve got to run interference. If we don’t, boy, we throw them out there to the predators of our culture that could really do a lot of damage. 

No, they are too important. You love them, don’t you? Of course you do. You can be the kind of man who can do that. Just try it. You might even find out you’re good at it.