On this week's 'Parenting' segment on the Moncrieff show, one listener sought advice about her 13 year old being asked out on a date.
Joanna Fortune, psychotherapist specialising in Child & Adult Psychotherapy, joined Moncrieff to answer this and other listeners' questions.
"My 13 year old daughter has been asked out on a date. The boy is the same age as her.
"I think she’s much too young for this and so I have told her that the only way I will permit her to go is if I accompany her. We have agreed that I will sit next to them in the cinema.
"However my daughter believes it’s unfair and has told me that it’s really embarrassing for her. Should I overrule her and keep doing it just to ensure her safety?"
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“Your daughter’s right, it is embarrassing, but that doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. Those two truths can co-exist, I just want to start with that.
“It is okay to acknowledge to her, ‘I get it. I get that you would be embarrassed - would you rather not go?’
“That is a choice that she can make. You can also sit behind her if to sit beside her is a little intrusive.
“But the bottom line for me is the line, ‘I think she is much too young for this.’ If you think she’s too young - and even ‘much too young’ - for a date then that’s your answer.
“You’ve given her an option, so I think you’re going to have to see that through. You’ve said you can go under these conditions but it is okay to go, ‘You know I think you’re too young for a date and now that we’re talking about it, I don’t think we’ve had an opportunity to discuss that and I haven’t told you the age that I do think would be appropriate.’
“And I’m wondering, do you have an age in mind that you can say to her, ‘Look, under 15’ - or whatever it might be, I’m just picking an arbitrary number rather than recommending an age because that’s going to very different for different kids, no two teenagers mature at the same stage or level.
“So you can say to her, ‘This is what I would be comfortable with.’ But I suppose whatever way you approach it is you don’t want to stamp out the excitement of this for her. You know she may have felt really excited and flattered that she was asked out on a date and that was a really positive feeling and experience for her and you can acknowledge that and go, ‘That must have felt really nice and I’m sure you were really excited and me telling you, ‘I don’t think you’re ready is really stealing that and I don’t want that, you’re allowed to feel excited about that.’’
“Emphasising, and I’m assuming this is true and if it’s not you modify it according to what you want in your home… but to emphasise her friends are always welcome in your home. And speak about him as a friend - which is also what he is.
“And that would she like to have a few, a handful of friends, over for a pizza and that you’ll give them some space and the dining room or the kitchen or whatever if might be in your home and they can spend time together and hang out together.
“That going on a date to the cinema might be something you’re not comfortable with, maybe taking a walk in the park you’re more comfortable with. So I think it’s about thinking it through.
“But as a parent there is no categorical right or wrong on this. Anyone else listening going, ‘I’d be totally fine with my 13 year old [going on a date]’, that’s okay you know your child best.
“But if anything in you is saying, ‘No, I’m uncomfortable with this, it doesn’t feel appropriate’ - that is your answer and it’s a valid answer.”
Main image: A couple at the cinema.