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Should Your Teenager Date? Why Would He Want To?

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I believe teenagers should be allowed to date. A smart child will be able to learn from the mistakes of others, and won’t permanently hurt himself with a bad relationship. At the very least, all children will best remember a mistake they made themselves, and a tearful breakup in a rainy movie theater parking lot is sure to dispel any thoughts that 16-year-old love is genuine. Sometimes your child will need to see what a relationship is for herself, even if she seems a little young to you.

Some parents worry that their children will become part of the ever-growing teen pregnancy statistic. Teenagers are taught about birth control or abstinence, but meanwhile parents hope the situation never arises in the first place, because they fear their kid will be one of the ones to make the wrong choice.

Another reason parents prefer their teenagers stay single is that they don’t want to have to console a broken heart. At 16, a breakup seems like the end of the world, and teenage life is dramatic enough without the tearful misery of separation. Parents think heartbreak should be for adults.

I believe young people should be allowed to test the waters, to learn about relationships and the opposite sex at a pace that is comfortable to them, whether it is at age 14 or 25. It is up to the parent to be there to educate and give advice, but not to try to control the most uncontrollable thing on earth, an American teen.

Puberty is difficult enough when hormones start to ooze. It’s much, much worse when you don’t have a parent you feel comfortable talking to. I would have been much more open and truthful to my parents if they had listened and given me advice about boys, rather than forbidding me from leaving the house with one. Resentment doesn’t open a conversation.

The question here is no longer whether teenagers should be allowed to date. Instead, it’s why the hell would they want to?

High school is difficult sometimes, and doing well in school is a challenge for many. It’s a lot harder when you skip fourth period math class to take a double lunch and spend an extra 40 minutes smooching in the parking lot. Once you’re in the parking lot wasting precious study time, it gets worse. Is there a single student on earth who gets enjoyment out of being interrupted mid-kiss by his physics teacher who is parked nearby and got an eyeful of affection he’s not happy about?

When you’re living in your parents’ house, you can’t exactly invite your girlfriend over at 1 a.m. for a late-night movie marathon. For one, Mom and Dad are tired and have already gone to bed for work the next morning. Car doors and bedroom doors slamming at night bring out the worst in people. Secondly, school starts in seven hours, and unlike college, in high school you don’t get to sleep the moment you get home. The afternoon is not yet designated recovery time. Lastly, living in your parents’ house usually involves living with your siblings, and your little sister doesn’t want to watch you share cooties with your high school sweetheart in front of Saw III.

The worst part of not being single in high school is holidays. How is a guy supposed to treat his girl to a fantastic Valentine’s Day gift with the $7.50 he made at the local WalMart? How can a girl enjoy a romantic spring break vacation with her boyfriend when she has to borrow her father’s car and ask for gas money? Dating takes money sometimes, and most lucrative jobs aren’t available to kids. Going to a movie isn’t quite as awesome when it makes a major dent in your allowance.

The final point will send shock and fear into the heart of any 15-year-old Don Juan. You already know the reasons why you probably don’t want to date in high school, but have you ever wondered who on earth would want to date you? Not many.

Girls don’t want to be shown a room filled with Ninja Turtle posters that your dad hung for you ten years ago, or a bed covered in SpongeBob sheets because Mom doesn’t want to have to buy new ones for another year or so. High school kids are not sexy, even to other high school kids. Everyone in your high school remembers how you used to make slurping noises as you sucked on the back of your pencil in second grade.

High school boys are the most annoying, immature creatures on earth. High school girls are the most judgmental, vindictive, aggravating, and petty creatures on earth. I would know; I’ve been one recently.

When I was 16, I felt like I knew everything there was to know about love when I had my first kiss. Later, at 18, I realized how stupid I was when I realized the kisses meant nothing. Now, at 20, I realize how stupid I was at 18, when I thought I had found love my first day at the university and it turned into petty ash. See? You may feel you’re the most ready and mature person alive, but in retrospect you will deem yourself naïve. The first time you have sex you’ll probably feel like an adult. Later, you’ll realize you aren’t.

If you’re too young to see an R-rated movie, you’re probably too young to romance and woo in the middle of taking your Algebra II test. Kissing is a little fun, sure, but why look for a potential mate when you could instead be enjoying your last few years without income tax, stress-free?

Parents, my advice to you is to allow your teenagers to date if they feel a need. They’ll probably end up trying it anyway, if they really want to. Forbidding them will only put more tension in an already difficult few years, and they will feel like they must go elsewhere for practical advice.

Teenagers, now that your parents have told you you’re allowed to date, you probably see the endless possibilities before you. You want to jump for joy. However, don’t jump too high and rip your adolescent pants. Dating is not fun at your age, and some would argue it is never free of burden. Wait until college, if at all, before jumping into the stress of finding a significant other. The hot girl at the alcohol-free party won’t dig your braces anyway.

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About Katharine M. Sparrow