Would you let your 17 year old date a 21 year old? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-03-2009, 04:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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On a messageboard primarily of teen girls I asked "what age difference do you allow for in dating?" and every. single. one. said that they do NOT date people their own age or younger cos it's *so* immature (which I think is ridiculous).

I'm wondering what group of moms would say. If your daughter was 17 would you let her date a 21 year old?

(I use those ages because that's the situation I'm currently in)
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:08 AM
 
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No way would I allow my teenage daughter to date a male of 21 years or older.

If they really like each other, I might allow him to become "friends of the family" and they could spend time together that way.

Because why?
_ dating someone that much younger than you may mean he's NOT a catch

_he may put pressure on her to be sexually active before she's ready

_he may be drinking socially, teens can't do that

All that spells trouble with a capital T.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:30 AM
 
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I would, based on my own personal experiences as a teen (for instance, DP is 5 years older than me...we met when I was 16).

It would depend on the teen, of course, and the person she was interested in dating...but yeah, I would most likely allow it.

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Old 03-03-2009, 05:49 AM
 
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Well, I'm not a parent, but .. ha, no way would that fly with me. Frankly, I went through high school and college. I saw what the majority of boys were like. I hesitate to even use the word men on them.

I know there are exceptions, of course.

But, quite frankly, the vast majority of them are not mature, and they still use forms of pressure as well as (what I call) emotional blackmail to get sexual activity. I see this a lot. And not every girl is experienced enough to stand up for herself in such situations. Especially in situations where an "older" male is interested.

I am in an age gap relationship myself (17 years of an age gap). But, we met when I was an adult, independent, and living on my own. So, in that sense, we were on an equal playing field. I don't think high schoolers and college age students are on an equal playing field.

My family's rule was that while I was under their roof, and 100% dependent on them, I would focus on my life, i.e. school, extracurricular activities, discovering my passion, friends, etc. But, romantic relationships were not allowed.

Maybe I was a unique kid, but I never resented this or thought it unfair. I actually appreciated it because it allowed me to focus on me, without getting distracted by something for which I just wasn't ready (emotionally).

That's probably where a lot of my point of view comes from. But, truly, while I know there are exceptions, the vast majority of males ages 14 to 22 scare the heck out of me in terms of their lack of maturity! Thus, there's no way I'd let an older one near my kid.

Plus, I personally find it odd that a 21 year old (legal) adult would dip into the high school dating pool. Surely, there are other college girls out there, and thus no need to seek out high schoolers.

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Old 03-03-2009, 05:55 AM
 
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It would very much be about the maturity levels. Because despite what the PP said, some older kids do NOT drink socially; some are slower to mature, etc. Likewise, some under-age-rs drink socially (some do it with their parent's blessing); and mature faster, etc. It's really not a question that can be answered based on age, alone.

WARNING: The comments and opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of the community in which I reside; or those of the internet parenting network.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:05 AM
 
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I would. But then I was living with a 20 yo when I was 17.

As for the dating someone your age or younger is so immature bit, are you sure these girls don't mean that the guy is so immature? Cause to be honest, 17 yo guys can be pretty immature at times.

Quote:
_ dating someone that much younger than you may mean he's NOT a catch

_he may put pressure on her to be sexually active before she's ready

_he may be drinking socially, teens can't do that
Well aside from the first one... that can be said about any guy, be he 21, 51 or 17.

As for the first one. Um, it's four years. Not that big of an age difference really. If he were 34 and she were 30 would you be saying "Dating someone that much younger then you may mean he is NOT a catch"? Same age difference.

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Old 03-03-2009, 08:36 AM
 
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I wouldn't rule it out, but it would depend on the individual personalities involved. The difference between those ages isn't so huge that I couldn't understand that they had some interests in common.

I would assume, however, that most 21 year-old young men had fully matured senses of their sexuality, and take into account whether the seventeen year-old in question could cope with that.
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Old 03-03-2009, 08:50 AM
 
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My brother was that 21-year-old dating the 17-year-old. I didn't like it because the girl was manipulative and whiny, but my brother's an awesome guy. It would be a case-by-case basis.

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Old 03-03-2009, 09:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hermionesmum View Post
I wouldn't rule it out, but it would depend on the individual personalities involved. The difference between those ages isn't so huge that I couldn't understand that they had some interests in common.

I would assume, however, that most 21 year-old young men had fully matured senses of their sexuality, and take into account whether the seventeen year-old in question could cope with that.
I agree with the first part, it very much depends on the people involved. Boys also tend to mature more slowly than girls so if you have a mature 17 year old they could really be at about the same level, sexually as well as mentally.
I don't agree with the second part, though. In my experience, 21 year old boys do not usually have a fully matured sense of their sexuality - not necessarily more than a 17 year old girl. When I was 16-17, I had a very defined sense of my sexuality (even though I was a virgin until almost 18), and I resented that people would think that just because I was a young girl I would have no sexual desires of my own, that any sexual situation I might get into would be the result of pressure from the man. That was simply not true for me. Also, at that age most boys my age seemed hopelessly juvenile - good as friends maybe, but definitely not sexually attractive. But then again, I was "old" for my age. Most of my relationships have been with men several years older than me, and my DP is three years older, which means that when I was 17 he would have been 20 (we got together when I was barely 19). Though as many have said, it totally depends on the personalities involved. At those ages there is so much variation in individual maturity level. I would probably not have a problem with my 17 year old daughter dating a 21 year old unless they were obviously on totally different levels of development. I do think it is fair for the parent to get to meet and spend time with the partners of their children though, especially in cases with such an age difference. In that case it would be easier to judge whether their relationship was appropriate or not.

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Old 03-03-2009, 09:45 AM
 
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originally posted by Ursusarctos:
Quote:
In my experience, 21 year old boys do not usually have a fully matured sense of their sexuality - not necessarily more than a 17 year old girl. When I was 16-17, I had a very defined sense of my sexuality (even though I was a virgin until almost 18), and I resented that people would think that just because I was a young girl I would have no sexual desires of my own, that any sexual situation I might get into would be the result of pressure from the man. That was simply not true for me. Also, at that age most boys my age seemed hopelessly juvenile - good as friends maybe, but definitely not sexually attractive. But then again, I was "old" for my age. Most of my relationships have been with men several years older than me, and my DP is three years older, which means that when I was 17 he would have been 20 (we got together when I was barely 19). Though as many have said, it totally depends on the personalities involved. At those ages there is so much variation in individual maturity level. I would probably not have a problem with my 17 year old daughter dating a 21 year old unless they were obviously on totally different levels of development. I do think it is fair for the parent to get to meet and spend time with the partners of their children though, especially in cases with such an age difference. In that case it would be easier to judge whether their relationship was appropriate or not.
I think we are making the same point, here. I certainly didn't mean to give the impression that sexual expression in a younger, female partner was inappropriate. Just that a naive girl would benefit from her parents' guidance.
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hermionesmum View Post
originally posted by Ursusarctos:


I think we are making the same point, here. I certainly didn't mean to give the impression that sexual expression in a younger, female partner was inappropriate. Just that a naive girl would benefit from her parents' guidance.
I think you are right I'm sorry if I seemed confrontational

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:10 AM
 
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Well... Here is what I have to go by: DP and I met when I was 17, we have 11 years difference. Couldn't have been happier for the past 10 years.

* he is, handsome, supportive, funny, patient, doesn't mind cooking dinners, is romantic, I would consider that a catch
* he never pressured me sexually, if it wasn't for his standards, I wouldn't have waited until I was 18.
* he did drink socially, but I never did outside my family (we both have European roots, and neither family would frown upon a teenager having a glass of wine or beer); neither one of us ever been drunk, or driven a car after drinking. He never bought me a drink until I was 21.

He is the most wonderful dad to his now 15 y.o. daughter who lives with us. And yes, my parents were very cautious about him in the beginning, but they love him now. In fact, my mom calls him "her favorite son in law", and we are not even married (yet)

It's very much a US thing to judge a couple by the age (I think). One of my sisters is happily married to someone 9 years older than she is. They have three kids, and as far as I can see, her and her husband fit each other to a T (and not the "trouble" kind).

So... I can't say I wouldn't be worried, but to tell you the truth, I think I'd be worried no matte who dsd chose to date.

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:12 AM
 
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Forgot to add...
My brother met his wife when she was 17 and he was 21. They've been married a year later, and I can see how much he loves her to this day. They've been together now for 15 years.

So you get the idea...

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:16 AM
 
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I met dh when I was 17 & he was 21. As a rule it seems like a big age difference & a little scary for my Mom I'm sure but for us it was a good thing. I think it is really something that has to be looked at on a case by case basis.

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:20 AM
 
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i dont have a teenager so i guess i can't really say what'd i do but i'd like to think i'd judge it on the person and not his/her age.. when i was 16 i dated a 21 year old (for 2 years) and he never pressured me into anything, nor did he drink..

I met my dp when i was 19 and he was 30.. we split up for about 5 years but are back together now and he'll be 36 next month (i'm 24) i don't really see any issues.. i tend to date older men (my ex husband was 10 years older then me)

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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Agreeing that it really depends on the people involved.

My 17 yo niece got a lot more pressure from the boyfriend she had that was the same age (regarding things like sex, alcohol, etc.) than she did when she dated someone who was 20.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:40 PM
 
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Ziggy,
I have to ask! Have you polled a group of fathers on this issue? If so I'd be interested in the responses you got.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:51 PM
 
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If my dd wanted to date him then I would not have a problem with it.

At 17 most of the people I hung out with outside of school were 24. I "dated" some of them, my parents had NO say & I certainly never brought them home to meet my parents(though it's a small town so they would have known by at least sight who they were)

IME most 17yo's know how they feel about their sexuality & what they want(whether it's to have sex or not). IME most 17yo's have had sex with at least 1 partner.

here the drinking wouldn't be an issue as at 17 you're less than a year away from legal age & most teens here are already drinking.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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DH and I have been together for 17 years, we started dating right after my 17th b'day, he was 20. He was certainly more sexually experience than me, but then again, he started when he was 12 ...

He is an amazing DH and father. I'm sure my parents worried about him as much as they would have with anyone else no matter the age. I'm not sure why parents would automatically feel more comfortable with a 17, 18, 19 ... year old without meeting him. My DH had all of his (well most) partying, experimenting, etc. out of the way when we met and he knew exactly what he wanted (and didn't) in a relationship. I am very glad I did not meet DH when he was his younger self, I don't think we would have made it and I would have missed out on the amazing family I have today.

I am glad my parents (and I) looked at the person, not the number when we met him. I think I'll do the same for my children.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:28 PM
 
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First of all, by age 17, I can't imagine "letting" or "forbidding" my child from dating. I definitely plan to keep an open dialogue about dating and sexuality, and my kids already know that I'd prefer if they didn't date until they were ready to think about marriage- but I wouldn't absolutely forbid something like that. Nor would I say "OK, you can date this guy but not that guy" especially not based on something as arbitrary as age.

I can see setting limits like "no going in a room with the door closed" or "you must be home by X time" or even "You can go out with a group but not alone with just a boy/man" but I just don't see how I could absolutely forbid a teenager from seeing a certain person, nor dictate what kind of relationship they have. I can teach and guide, but what power do I have to actually stop them from being romantically involved?

That aside, whether or not a relationship between a 17yo girl and a 21yo boy could be healthy depends completely on the individuals involved. That's only a 4 year age difference, and people grow and mature at different rates.

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Old 03-03-2009, 02:41 PM
 
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I agree, depends on the people involved how I would feel...

But am I the only one that thinks that a 17yr old shouldn't be referred to in terms of who her parents will "LET" her date???

I was already making life decisions at that age and with my now DH. I also think that while parents of a 17 yr old can and will have opinions about who their kids date, they ultimately can't be in charge. I would have just snuck around behind my parents back if they had forbid me to date at 17. I think feedback and respect for the choices a 17 yr old makes makes more sense to me.


this is unless i suppose I felt my child was in danger? But again it would be more about talking and exchanging info/opinions etc. again, at 17 a child is less than a year away from being "ALLOWED" to make any decisions they want. I feel that dictating or disallowing a daughter to date someone due to age or whatever would only drive my daughter further away from a respectful grownup relationship with me, ya know? It would tell her that I think she is incapable of making important decisions for herself in the most intimate way and that I don't think she smart enough to judge a partners intentions on her own? If at 17 I am in charge of doing that for her, then who is in charge at 18?

If we were talking 14 or 15, my answer would be slightly different.
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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I would, but I don't think I'd have a choice after DD hearing about how old DH and I were when we met!

I was 17 and he was 22. We met in college...I was already out of my parents domain, so they didn't have any voice in my decision. My mother was nervous about him and made some really stupid assumptions based on his age. But here is the breakdown:
-He had only kissed one girl before me. In fact, he'd never even french kissed, never mind anything else! I was, um, more experienced.
-He'd never had a drink. Ever. Not even on his 21st birthday. He just doesn't see the point in drinking. I'd had my first vodka at 14.
-He was friends with people in every age group, and was not very crowd influenced. Very much "his own man" who wasn't going to be pushed or influenced by a bunch of dumb college guys. I probably would have done anything for people to like me at that time!

If anyone should have been nervous about us dating, it should have been HIS mother! Age is just a number, it is all about the person's maturity and values.

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Old 03-03-2009, 02:53 PM
 
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I say yes with the general caveat that we're dealing with marginally responsible people. In my case, my older two at least will likely be in college at that age (my son will probably enter college at around 15 at the oldest, my daughter at 16 or 17 at the latest). Seventeen year olds are almsot adults and likely to do what they feel like, regardless of their parents' wishes. I'd rather keep the lines of communication open, so no one is sneaking around.
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Old 03-03-2009, 03:03 PM
 
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My girls will most likely start college when they're 17. Even if they would graduate HS later, I wouldn't feel that it's my place to dictate their romantic choices at that age.


By the way, girls like sex. It isn't all about whether or not she's able to defend herself against the advances of the older man. I was 17 when I had my first serious boy friend, who was 21, and I was definitely the controlling one in that relationship. I initiated the physical stuff.
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Old 03-03-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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I say yes with the general caveat that we're dealing with marginally responsible people. In my case, my older two at least will likely be in college at that age (my son will probably enter college at around 15 at the oldest, my daughter at 16 or 17 at the latest). Seventeen year olds are almsot adults and likely to do what they feel like, regardless of their parents' wishes. I'd rather keep the lines of communication open, so no one is sneaking around.
Why would your kids start college so early?
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:45 PM
 
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Absolutely not.

The age difference / maturity of a 17yr old versus a 21yr old is tremendous. Age doesn't matter so much as we age ourselves but there's a lot for your young daughter to learn over the next 4 years.

The problem is, if you are too overbearing with your disapproval you may only be encouraging her to rebel.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:35 PM
 
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Originally Posted by philomom View Post
No way would I allow my teenage daughter to date a male of 21 years or older.

If they really like each other, I might allow him to become "friends of the family" and they could spend time together that way.

Because why?
_ dating someone that much younger than you may mean he's NOT a catch

_he may put pressure on her to be sexually active before she's ready

_he may be drinking socially, teens can't do that

All that spells trouble with a capital T.

I agree. I dated guys much older than me when I was in H.S. did all those things.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by because why not? View Post

By the way, girls like sex. It isn't all about whether or not she's able to defend herself against the advances of the older man. I was 17 when I had my first serious boy friend, who was 21, and I was definitely the controlling one in that relationship. I initiated the physical stuff.
Thank you! I feel this way too, and also initiated physical stuff with my older boyfriend (who didn't drink btw) when I was 17. People (not talking about people on this board, just the general public) expect young men to be randy as goats, but fail to understand that young girls also have raging hormones making them ridiculously horny.
This is not to say that some teenage girls are not extremely naive and need parental guidance and could get taken advantage of. But I think the percentage of those girls may be smaller than many people think. And even if a girl is naive, straight out forbidding her at 17 to see a boy based on his age alone will lead to nothing but bad feelings and trickery (as many PP have pointed out).

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Old 03-03-2009, 06:01 PM
 
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When I was 17, my best friend and I spent a lot of time with her brother and his friends, who were all 21. We drank alcohol and smoked pot every weekend. I never "dated" any of them but one guy and I hooked up pretty regularly, and I fooled around with a few others. My friend slept with several of them. They didn't really want to "date" us, but we were fun and cute and young and friendly, so there you go.

I've no regrets, but I would monitor a situation like that for my daughters and wouldn't permit the unsupervised partying and overnights like my parents did.
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