Ground rules for teenage dating

A big question that often comes up for parents is friendships versus relationships.

While your average 15-year-old boy is unlikely to ask if a girl can sleep over (although some do), a gay teen may have many friends of the same sex whom he sees without supervision, talks to behind closed doors, or asks to spend the night in his bedroom.

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It’s important that they learn about how to keep themselves and their partner safe during sex.“Of course it will probably be uncomfortable for both of you,” Anthony says.“But if he’s so uncomfortable that he gets angry or shuts down or otherwise just can’t continue the conversation, that’s a big sign that he’s not ready for this.” If so, assure your child that there’s no hurry to start dating. Parents may joke that it’s an experience they want their child to have -- just not until somewhere around the age of 30. A 6th grade girl may say, "Jacob is my boyfriend," but what does that mean?Seriously, though, when is your child ready to date? "At this age, kids use dating labels but aren’t ready to have much direct one-on-one interaction beyond maybe sitting together at lunch or recess," says Dale Atkins, Ph D, a family therapist in New York.

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