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Teen Health

Are You Ready to Go Out?

4 questions to answer -- and how to deal with your parents if they think you're not ready to date.
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Question Four: Will My Parents Let Me Go Out?

This is the all-important question, because if your parents say "no," you're not going to get very far.

It could be because they're very conservative, or because they remember how they acted during their own teen years. Whatever the reason, your parents might not want you to go out with anyone until you reach a certain age. Depending on how easygoing or strict your parents are, that age could be as young as 13 or 14, or as old as 18.

If you really want to be with this person and your parents won't give in, try talking to them about it. Don't start off with a confrontational attitude -- "Why won't you let me date? You're so mean!" Make it a conversation.

Gowen suggests trying to show your parents how mature and responsible you are. Remind them about the chores you've done around the house and how well you've been keeping up with your schoolwork. Tell your parents all the reasons why you like this person and want to go out with them -- because they're kind, smart, and fun to be around ("because they're hot" isn't a legitimate reason, so don't even try it).

See if you can work out a deal where you ease into dating gradually. "A great way to start the whole dating scene is by hanging out in groups with parental supervision," Choate says. "Then the next step might be some gradual couple time, but still with parental supervision." 

Over time, you can ask for more and more one-on-one time with this person, proving with each step that you are mature enough to handle the added freedom.

When You Start Dating

Once you -- and your parents -- feel ready and you've found someone you like and who likes you, you can start going out. But when you begin any new relationship, take it slow. 

"Don't be alone with a person you don't know very well until you feel more comfortable with that person," Choate says. "Start gradually. Know exactly where you're going, what's happening every step of the way. You don't have to let the other person be in control of the date."

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