How to Talk to Your Teen About Dating

Woman embracing teenage daughter (14-16), looking at each other
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When your teen begins to show an interest in dating, you’ll want to iron out how you feel about it. Besides the ‘my daughter isn’t dating until she is thirty’ thoughts that will run through your head, there should be some serious thoughts about how you would like to see this dating thing work out. Not that it will work out according to that plan, but a road map is always good to follow when facing uncharted territory.

After you’ve done this—and taken a deep breath—you’re ready to talk to your teen about dating.

These suggestions can help you tackle this important conversation:

  1. Be clear when talking to your teen that while you’ll discuss dating with him/her, that doesn’t mean you are giving your permission to go out on dates or begin dating someone.
  2. Help your teen weight the pros and cons of dating. Explain how dating can take up money and/or time that is spent doing some other activity that he/she enjoys. Try to show him/her that dating ‘just to date’ or ‘because his/her friends are dating’ is never a good choice.
  3. Discuss the responsibility of dating with your teen. Dating involves another person who your teen will need to treat with respect. Share your values and your expectations that your teen develops good values too. Use this parenting contract to help with your discussion.
  4. Ask your teen what he/she thinks, feels or wants in the way of permissions when he/she begins dating. Use your active listening skills.
  1. Share your thoughts on what you feel are appropriate rules for dating. If your teen is dating right now, you’ll need to iron out and cement these rules. If not, try not to turn this talk into a debate on rules.
  2. Make it very clear to your teen, through words and actions, that you will always be there for him/her should he/she have any questions or if he/she needs a sympathetic ear. Dating can be rough. Although your teen will need to make his/her own choices, you’ll want him/her to ask your advice.
  1. Talk about sex. There is no way out of this part of the conversation. Remember to share your expectations and family values.
  2. Explain to both your son and daughter that ‘no’ means ‘no’. This isn’t just about sexual intercourse, it also is about anything your teen or your teen’s date does not want to do. Role playing some scenarios will help get this point across.
  3. Tell your son/daughter that dating is meant to be fun. If your teen ever feels threatened, verbally put down or is physically harmed, he/she should come to you or another trusted adult right away.


  1. Understand that this does not have to be all one talk. Break it up into many talks. Continue the conversation throughout your teen’s adolescence.
  2. When you’re finished talking, write down your thoughts on the conversation. Were there still questions or things you felt were left unsaid? Remember to say them or to ask when you talk to your teen again.
  3. Remember that your teen is learning about relationships by watching you in your relationships. The more you work on your own and use your own advice, they better your teen will ‘hear’ you when you talk to him/her about dating.

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