Dating and Driving: When Is the Right Time?

by Kevin Leman

Dating at age 16 was the rule in my family. My older sister was clearly ready at age 16. I was so immature at 16. On my first date, I remember showing up late to pick my date up. I dropped her off late. I talked about myself the whole time. For some reason, the girl didn’t want a second date.


Why do we use age as the defining term for privileges?

Tradition is the main reason parents use age to determine when privileges are given to their kids. Their parents used age as the guiding light. Their fellow parents use age as the key marker.

There are society age markers, like driver’s license at age 16. These society markers affect when we give privileges to our kids.

Maturity is subjective

Individual kids grow up faster than others. Girls grow up quicker than boys. Kids in the same family will mature at different rates. So, to set privileges based on age ignores the individual child’s maturity and readiness.

How do you know when they are ready?

First, take age out of the equation. Observe them as they grow up. The first question to ask is, “How do they treat you the parent?”  The second question to ask is, “Are they responsible with their current jobs, like school, dishes, mowing the lawn, etc?” If both of those are poor, then why would you give them more responsibilities?

Do you ever remove privileges based on lack of maturity?

Yes, remove privileges if they are disrespectful, bad mouth you or have no relationship with you, the parent. You have 4 aces, so use them to remove privileges.

Action Steps:

1.     Start early with the expectation that maturity, not age is the determining factor.

2.     Say at an early age, “Your maturity will decide when this happens.”

3.     Don’t be afraid to remove privilege if they don’t display maturity.

Parenting Tip/ Pocket Answer

Maturity, Not Age is the key!



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