“So from a parenting perspective,” says Connolly, who is also the director of the La Marsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, “you want to know who your kids are friends with.” Kids like the security of having their friends around.
“When you’re going out with someone, it’s much easier to be yourself when your friends are there too,” says Katie, 15, of Carleton Place, Ont.
This causes parents to worry, and rightly so, as many kids are uncomfortable with or unable to handle the intimacy that comes with slow dancing or mixed-gender pyjama parties.
But in terms of friendships between boys and girls, Connolly says that simply having friends of both sexes can be healthy and positive.
“If you pretended to be somebody else, your friends would go, ‘Whoa, why are you acting so weird?
’” Also, there’s no need to pre-arrange that cellphone call to get you out of a date you’re not enjoying.
Group dating is also a way for kids to circumvent a parental ban on dating.
Parents must acknowledge this reality and address safety issues around the risks of drinking, says Martyn, who’s also the mother of two young-adult daughters.
“That’s just in the movies,” says Brett, 14, of Aurora, Ont.
“What happens in real life is you’ll be hanging out with your immediate circle of friends, including your girlfriend, and you go, ‘What’s everybody doing Friday night?
Here is how 14-year-old Catherine started going out with the guy who is now her boyfriend.
At recess one day, her best friend yelled over to the unsuspecting boy, “Catherine wants to snog!