Dating at an early age

In the University of Georgia study, early daters had significantly worse study skills and were four times more likely to drop out of school than those who delayed dating.

Other studies have reached similar conclusions: Dating takes a toll at school.

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This is yet another reason to spend relaxed time together and engage in frequent conversation; surveys show teens actually want to discuss dating, drugs and other pressures with their parents.

#2 Academic Problems – Despite often lasting a month or less and taking place mostly via text, pre-teen relationships can be intense and all-consuming, drawing kids’ focus away from academics.

This heightened risk can be explained, at least in part, by younger children’s vulnerability to peer pressure and still-forming personal values and identity.

Even if your child isn’t sexually active, the risk of substance abuse and other problem behaviors increases if many of their friends are having sex.

Parents are under a lot of pressure to cave on the dating issue. Instead, consider a healthy middle ground: Encourage supervised group activities like school dances, movies and sporting events or have supervised dates at home, but hold off on the one-on-ones until high school.

So does Age Match.com, a website specifically designed for older men with younger women relationships and older women with younger men relationships.

But having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend at a young age increases the risk of early sex, as does having friends in higher grades, frequenting social networking sites and spending less time with platonic friends.

In a survey sponsored by Liz Claiborne, more than one in four children said sexual activity is part of tween dating relationships.

By the time most children enter middle school their parents are starting to realize they’re not little kids anymore. Regardless, many are playing the part, wearing makeup, spending hours on Facebook and, much to their parents’ dismay, asking to go on dates.

Conventional wisdom says there’s no “right” age to start dating – it depends on the child’s maturity.

Those who chose troubled partners saw their problems intensify over time.

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