Depending on the age and maturity of your child, you might not be ready for him or her to start dating. But let's assume you're OK with the idea -- as long as there are certain guidelines in place, of course. So, before this new relationship gets off the ground, you two should have an honest conversation about love. That's right ... it's time for "the talk."
You might have been putting it off for some time now. We do hope you had the "birds and bees" conversation with your kids long before they reached dating age, but maybe you haven't had the "are you ready for sex?" discussion yet. Don't worry, though -- it's never too late, and studies have shown that talking with your kids about sex doesn't encourage risky behavior. In fact, kids who have had the talk are much more likely to delay sex and also be safer about it.
You're probably feeling a bit awkward about the talk -- so just admit it as soon as you start chatting. Once you've cut the tension and laughed a little bit, you'll be able to talk more easily. Tailor the conversation to your child: Don't assume knowledge, but try not to overwhelm him or her with loads of information. Let your kid lead the way and see where it goes. And remember, this isn't a one-time chat -- it should be an ongoing dialogue.
The next step should be to meet this potential boyfriend or girlfriend. It doesn't have to be a formal, high-pressure situation, but you just want to make sure that he or she isn't wildly inappropriate (respectful and polite wouldn't hurt, either).
Once you've confirmed that your child isn't trying to date a 35-year-old axe murderer, you two should sit down again and work out the ground rules of this new relationship.