Help! My Teen Daughter Wants to Date an Older Boy

Advice for Parents with Teenage Daughters

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Many parents of teenage girls face a tough problem. Should you allow your daughter to date an older boy? It is a tricky situation, a hard decision and one that can cause arguments within the family.

The Concerns of Teen Girls Dating Older Boys

When your teenage daughter has an interest in a boy who is older than her, it is easy to become concerned. Many parents in this situation fear that their 16-year-old will become pregnant or that her heart will be broken by this young man.

It is also difficult for parents to understand why a 17- or 18-year-old boy would want to date a girl who is two or three years younger than him.

  • Does he genuinely like or love her?
  • Is he using her for selfish reasons?
  • Is she safe with this older boy?
  • Will he expose her to peer pressure situations she is not mature enough to handle?

These are all valid questions and make the situation difficult to handle.

Parents must also deal with their daughter's often stubborn intention to date this young man. She may be so infatuated with him that she views anything that her parents say against the relationship as a personal attack.

She may feel like her parents don't care about her happiness or that they simply do not like the boy. This could cause her to withdraw from the family in many ways and cause even bigger issues.

How Should Parents Handle This Situation?

Every situation is going to be different and how parents handle their daughter's dating relationships is going to be up to them.

Let's look at the advice given by parents in two real life examples.

14-Year-Old Girl Wants to Date 18-Year-Old Boy

In this scenario, a single mother of a 14-year-old girl asks how she should handle her daughter's desire to date an 18-year-old boy.

The teen couple met through mutual friends and they say they love each other.

The girl has told her boyfriend that there will be no sexual activity between them and says that he understands this.

The mother's concern is the age difference and her feeling is "NO! NO! NO!" She also fears that her daughter will sneak around if she doesn't allow the teens to date.

Advice from cstone360: "Your concerns on both sides are very valid. Perhaps a lesser of two evils, however undesirable, may be ideal.

Instead of risking her running off and possibly getting pregnant, perhaps say she can see him but only when you're around - come over for dinner, studying, hanging out while you're there and visible at all times. Studying in a common room (living room, etc.).

If they wish to go to a movie or dinner - drive them and accompany them, never leaving them out of your sight. Undesirable, but the lesser of two evils. He may grow wary of mom always being around and leave."

Denise Witmer's thoughts: I agree with cstone360. The mom could try and forbid it, but has no way of doing what she would need to do to enforce it.

Allow the dating when you can chaperone.

Keep lines of communication open with your daughter, talking to her often about sex, love, family values and teen pregnancy.

16-Year Old Dating 21-Year-Old Man

This mother is seeking advice about her soon to be 17-year-old daughter's relationship with a 21-year-old man. Her daughter was on the right track in school, getting straight A's and had no behavioral problems.

The teen's parents had initially allowed her to date this older boy and the relationship had been going well for over a year. The parents thought that the boy would get tired of his younger girlfriend and had been getting pressure from his own parents and friends for "dating a baby."

The young girl's parents admit to being in the wrong when the relationship started. The young couple broke up but quickly got back together.

It wasn't long before the teen's mother became worried. Her daughter was losing friends who didn't like the older boyfriend. She was becoming a 'drama queen' and arguing with her parents and older brothers. "All the typical stuff about how much she hates us, we must hate her to be doing this, etc."

In this scenario, the girl's mother wanted to know how to correct her poor parenting choices and talk to her daughter about it. Should she allow the relationship with this now adult man continue?

Denise Witmer's thoughts: This can be a sticky situation and I'm going to give an entirely different point of view.

Let's talk about relationships: yours with her and hers with her boyfriend.

You allowed her to create a relationship with this boy and now you need to respect that relationship. If you do not, she is going to learn that you don't respect her feelings - they don't matter to you, she has to fight you to get what she wants and that love is hurtful.

You have flipped on her. I don't think she is just saying she hates you or that she thinks you hate her, she is most likely feeling a little bit of it.

The number 1 priority you have to worry about is your relationship with her. While this situation makes things not as you want them right now, a poor relationship with her at 17 can be devastating.

There are so many issues coming around the corner for her in the next year and she is going to need you if she is going to be able to get through them with a happy and healthy attitude. In order to make the right choices for herself - and she has a lot of potential - she is going to need a strong foundation with you.

While I understand your fear for her in her relationship with this young man, I'm telling you not to get stuck there.

So, let's piece the rift back together:

Talk to her. Tell her that you love her and that you are sorry you are both having a hard time.

Do not say the word 'but' at all. Say things like: "I'm excited for this coming year. I'm looking forward to seeing all you accomplish in your senior year and beyond. I don't want to fight throughout it."

Come up with a compromise that you both can live with. Explain to her that she needs to give a little because you are giving a little and you both respect each other enough to do so.

About Denise Witmer: Denise Witmer is the former About.com Teens Expert. She has written numerous articles giving advice to parents about working with their teens and maintaining healthy relationships. The advice given above are from Witmer's blog entries in 2010 and 2009 respectively.

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