Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) Girls Dating Older Boys

By Connect with Kids

“Girls, definitely, tell me that they feel like they have to do the sexual requests, they have to honor the sexual requests of their boyfriends, or they will get dumped. And there are a lot of girls that are feeling pressure that way.”

– Dr. Nancy McGarrah, Ph.D., licensed psychologist

Typically, parents worry when their daughters begin dating, but they really worry when their daughter goes out with an older boy.  According to a recent study, parents have good reason to be concerned.

Sarah is 19 and her boyfriend is 22.

“Because I am dating an older guy … I am more open to alcohol, just because I can ask him, ‘Hey, can you go to the store and buy me something?’” says Sarah Lim, 19.

She says another risk of dating an older guy is being pressured into having sex.

“I think a lot of guys, especially in high school, will go for younger girls just because they’ll give it up, you know,” says Lim.

In fact, according to a study by the non-profit group Child Trends, one in five girls has dated a boy at least three years older than she, and 10 percent say they’ve had sex with an older boy before they turned 16.

“Girls, definitely, tell me that they feel like they have to do the sexual requests, they have to honor the sexual requests of their boyfriends, or they will get dumped. And there are a lot of girls that are feeling pressure that way,” says Dr. Nancy McGarrah, Ph.D., licensed psychologist.

What’s more, according to the study, girls who date older guys are less likely to use protection, more likely to become pregnant, and twice as likely to acquire a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

“Frequently, the younger girl is naïve.  Sometimes she doesn’t have the assertiveness to stand up for herself and demand that a condom be used,” says McGarrah.

“When guys are older…girls will trust them.  ‘Oh, he knows what he’s talking about.  He has more experience,’” says Lim.

Experts say parents need to set ground rules, such as they can only date someone one grade above or below, and only go on group dates until they’re 16. And if your daughter argues, experts say:

“Explain to them that you trust them and you know that they are a mature person, but at the same time there are different levels of maturity. And just like they are not ready to get married, they are not ready to have babies, they are also not ready to be in relationships with people significantly older than they are,” says McGarrah.

Tips for Parents

  • When a boyfriend or girlfriend uses verbal insults, mean language, nasty putdowns, gets physical by hitting or slapping, or forces someone into sexual activity, it’s an important warning sign of verbal, emotional or physical abuse. Ask yourself, does my boyfriend or girlfriend:  (Nemours Foundation)
    • Get angry when I don’t drop everything for him or her?
    • Criticize the way I look or dress, and say I’ll never be able to find anyone else who would date me?
    • Keep me from seeing friends or from talking to any other guys or girls?
    • Want me to quit an activity, even though I love it?
    • Ever raise a hand when angry, like he or she is about to hit me?
    • Try to force me to go further sexually than I want to?
  • Hopefully, you and your significant other are treating each other well. Not sure if that’s the case? Take a step back from the dizzying sensation of being swept off your feet and think about whether your relationship has these qualities:
    • Mutual respect. Does he or she “get” how cool you are and why? The key is that your BF or GF is into you for who you are — for your personality, great sense of humor, love of the same movies, commitment to sports or the arts, etc. Does your partner listen when you say you’re not comfortable doing something and then back off right away? Respect in a relationship means that each person values who the other is — and would never challenge the other person’s boundaries.  (Nemours Foundation)
    • Trust. You’re talking with a guy from French class and your boyfriend walks by. Does he completely lose his cool or keep walking because he knows you’d never cheat on him? It’s okay to get a little jealous sometimes — jealousy is a natural emotion. But how a person reacts when feeling jealous is what matters. There’s no way you can have a healthy relationship if you don’t trust each other. (Nemours Foundation)
    • Support. It’s not just in bad times that your partner should support you. Some people are great when your whole world is falling apart, but can’t take being there when things are going right (and vice versa). In a healthy relationship, your significant other is there with a shoulder to cry on when you find out your parents are getting divorced and to celebrate with you when you get the lead in a play. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Good communication. You’ve probably heard lots of stuff about how men and women don’t seem to speak the same language. We all know how many different meanings the little phrase “no, nothing’s wrong” can have, depending on who’s saying it! But what’s important is to ask if you’re not sure what he or she means, and speak honestly and openly so that the miscommunication is avoided in the first place. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Think about the qualities you value in a friendship and see how they match up with the ingredients of a healthy relationship. Work on developing those good qualities in yourself — they make you a lot more attractive to others. (Nemours Foundation)


  • Nemours Foundation

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) – Invincibility Theory Among Teens

“I just like to see how far I can go and what I can do and what I can accomplish out[side] of the everyday norm.”

– Allan, 17

It has been said a thousand times: the biggest reason kids drink and drive, take drugs and do all kinds of crazy, dangerous stunts is that they think they’re immortal, invincible and bullet-proof. But is this what teenagers really think?

“It’s a sense of freedom, I guess,” says Allan, 17.

Allan is a self-proclaimed risk-taker. 

“I just like to see how far I can go and what I can do and what I can accomplish out[side] of the everyday norm,” says Allan.

Risky behaviors can include rock-climbing, skydiving, street racing and even unprotected sex. It’s often said that teenagers feel invincible – but do they really feel this way? Researchers at UC San Francisco say no. In fact, they found that teenagers actually overestimate the danger of certain activities. And, while they know there are risks, they think the benefits and the fun are worth it.

“[Teenagers] are — compared to an adult — relatively uninformed. And if they are a novice and inexperienced with alcohol, drugs or sex, or any of those things — as everyone is in the beginning — they don’t know what to expect. Very often they don’t fully understand the complete nature of the risks they’re taking,” says Jeffrey Rothweiler, Ph.D., clinical psychologist.

“It might be that because the frontal lobes are not yet fully developed during adolescence that they’re more likely to make decisions, that they don’t fully think through the consequences of their actions,” says Elizabeth Sowell, Ph.D., neuroscientist. The prefrontal cortex matures the most between the ages of 12 and 20.

Allan knows there is a potential for injury with some of the risky actions he takes.

“I guess death is a factor, or getting paralyzed or … hitting the ground while you’re climbing. But you just try not to think about it, keep a positive attitude,” says Allan.

But in his mind, the benefits are worth it.
“Just being able to look back and see that you’ve done something. That you’ve accomplished … a rapid or a rock or a trail or something like that,” says Allan.

Tips for Parents

  • Research shows that certain approaches to parenting can help prevent teens from engaging in all types of risky behaviors, from drug and alcohol use to dangerous driving to sexual activity. This includes having a warm, loving and close relationship with your teen; setting and consistently enforcing clear rules and consequences; closely monitoring your teen’s activities and whereabouts; respecting your teen; and setting a good example, especially when it comes to illicit drug and alcohol use. (Office of National Drug Control Policy)
  • Encourage safe driving, healthy eating and good school performance; discourage drug use, teen sex and activities that may result in injury. (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, HHS)
  • Teach healthy habits. Teach your teenager how to maintain a high level of overall health through nutrition, physical fitness and healthy behaviors. Make sure your teen gets eight hours of sleep a night — a good night’s sleep helps ensure maximum performance in academics and sports. Sleep is the body’s way of storing new information to memory and allowing muscles to heal. (HHS)
  • Promote safe driving habits. Make sure your teenager uses a seat belt every time he or she is in a car, and ask your child to ensure that all other passengers are wearing their seatbelts when he or she is driving. Encourage your young driver to drive responsibly by following speed limits and avoiding distractions while driving such as talking on a cell phone, focusing on the radio or even looking at fellow passengers instead of the road. (HHS)
  • Promotion of school success. Help your teen to become responsible for attendance, homework and course selection. Be sure to have conversations with your child about school and show your interest in his or her school activities. (HHS)
  • Prevent violence. Prevent bullying by encouraging peaceful resolutions and building positive relationships. Teach teens to respect others and encourage tolerance. Teach your teens that there is no place for verbal or physical violence by setting an example with your words and actions and by showing them respect as well. (HHS)
  • Know the 4“W’s”—who, what, when, where. Always know who your teen is hanging out with, what they will be doing, when and for how long they will be out, and where they will be. And check up on your child. Be aware of the dangers that can arise at teenage parties. Teen parties present an opportunity for your teen to experiment with alcohol or tobacco. One approach is to host the party so you have more control over ensuring that these parties stay safe and fun for everyone involved. (HHS)


  • Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)