What's the Best Age to Begin Dating?

There's a reason why 16 is such a sweet birthday for most American teens -- it is the magical age when most parents allow their kids to date.

According to an online poll conducted by Parent Soup, one of the largest parenting websites in the U.S., 61 percent of 538 parents quizzed cited 16 or 17 as the right age for kids to start dating. About 30 percent said 14 to 15 years of age was best, while only 6 percent thought kids should be 18 years of age or older. Only 3 percent said 12- to 13-year-olds were old enough to date.

Most of the moms and dads queried made a distinction between one-on-one dates and group dating. Several parents stated that kids who were younger than 16 should be allowed to go out in groups. Many Parent Soup Members said they'd allow very young kids -- even as young as 13 years old -- to date if there was a parent chaperone.

Here is what parents had to say about the "right age" to begin dating:

  • "We believe STRONGLY that kids out there are dating WAY too early. We have two daughters and they will only be allowed to see someone IF they are not alone with that person. They will be accompanied by a cousin, brother or other relative. They also will not be allowed (to be) alone together -- it is just too tempting for young people. We think writing letters is wonderful and that if a young man wants to take (our) daughter out, he must ask Dad first. We know this sounds strict and horrible, but you would be amazed at how many people are doing this. It is totally old fashioned and straight from the 1800's, but how many girls back then were unwed mothers?
    --lizwith2girls (Web Member)
  • "(I'd allow my child to date in) mixed groups before age 15 with supervision, and at 15 (or so) in small groups of (three or more) couples; 16 for double dates -- and 17 if she's alone with a boy. Kids need other kids for comfort and to learn how to behave. Groups are more fun anyway!"
    --ekmama (Web)
  • "Probably around 16...but no car dates!"
    --WhistlinBelle (AOL Member)
  • "My daughter started at 16. Before that, it was usually group things with friends."
    --jdsmom (Web)
  • "I would say 14-15 years old if they were going out in a group. But one-on-one dating would (have to begin at age) 16-17. Of course, I could always chaperone!"
    --dao663 (AOL)
  • "My choice is 16-17 years old, but if you ask my husband, he'll say 30 years old. :)"
    --MrsDoris2u (AOL)
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