A new study out of the University of Georgia suggests that when middle school students date there are many negative consequences. Some of these consequences include dropping out of school and an increased use of marijuana and alcohol in high school. While the study demonstrates this important relationship over time it does not discuss the reasons why this correlations occurs. Experts believe that being involved in your children’s daily lives and having open communication may help middle school students understand why it is healthy to postpone dating to a time when they are more ready.
This topic reminds me of the work of David Elkind, PhD. In his book All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis, he discusses the consequences of not having rites of passage as one develops through adolescence. I think we can all remember the times when we were told that we were not allowed to wear make up until a certain age or go to certain places alone. I think this study is a reminder that teens need this type of parenting and that it is in fact good for a teen’s development.
For more information, see Kara Baskin’s interview. She is the author of the Boston.com parenting column ‘The 24-Hour Workday.’