Setting Ground Rules for Teen Dating


Establishing dating ground rules for your teen encourages responsible teen dating.

As your children grow up, it's normal for them to think about having a boyfriend or girlfriend. They've probably been hanging out with friends of both sexes and doing things as a group, but they may be thinking about one-on-one dating. It's time to talk about the different types of relationships and love and to prepare to set rules for dating.

Talking about relationships in regular, everyday conversations lets you and your child talk about your family values when it comes to friendship, dating, and love. Dating helps young people learn to get along with others, communicate, negotiate, make decisions, and learn to be assertive. It's an important part of growing up, and talking about it together will help your teen mature.

So, how will you handle the teen dating scene? Parents approach teen dating in different ways. Some set strict rules while others let teens make their own decisions. However, a more "middle-of-the-road" approach may be best. This includes setting ground rules while giving young people options from which they can choose. It also means being available and open to ongoing conversations.

Setting Ground Rules

Even though they can make many decisions on their own, teens still need boundaries from you. Exactly what those boundaries are is something that you and your teen should discuss. Here are a few suggestions that may work for your family:

  • Meet all of her friends, and insist that her date come into the house so that you can say hello.
  • Lay down some basic rules, including what you consider a proper dating age for both your teen and the teen's dates.
  • Know the details about each group outing or date, including what adults and teens will be present, where it will take place, who is driving, what they're doing, and when they'll be home.
  • Discuss issues surrounding sex and morality; including pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases along with emotions surrounding sex.
  • Make sure your teen knows that alcohol or drug use is not allowed by anyone on any date or group outing.
  • Explain that if she wants to come home from a date, you are willing and available to pick her up at any time.
  • Make yourself available if your teen wants to talk after a group outing or date.

There are many areas to discuss when it comes to teen dating. You will need to set rules that are appropriate for your child's age and maturity level. These rules will change as your child grows up and as he handles different dating situations. For example, you may extend his curfew as he gets older. His curfew might change based on whether he is driving, his date is driving, or if a parent is driving. The curfew also might change based on the day of the week (weekend versus school-night dates) and time of year (summer versus school year).

Dating is a big deal to teens. They need you to stay involved and attentive to what's going on. By setting rules with your teen about dating, you will help her learn to make good choices and to build healthy relationships while she navigates the teen dating scene.


  • Families Are Talking: Friendship, Dating, and Love: Young People Experience Many Types of Relationships, written by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States in 2004. Last referenced 1/7/05.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2019, August 19). Setting Ground Rules for Teen Dating, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: August 19, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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