Age difference

My 16 1/2 year old daughter was introduced to a 20 year old boy/man via friends. She is chubby/obese and this is the first who has shown interest in her . He is artsy as she is , she is also brilliant and I feel socially more mature than alot of 25 yr olds. He works, goes to college part time.Her male friends are mostly of the artsy variety and all think they are homosexual. My wife and I are hesitant about her starting to date this guy- they went out tonite for the first time as a couple. Wife works with person who is neighbor who says good family, good guy. Wife is more cocerned than me as they had off from school on Mon/ Tues this week and he asked daughter to go to the movies with him and his 6 yr old sister to see Justin Beiber movie. My thiught is that any 20 yr old guy that will take his 6 yr old sister to a kiddie movie has his priorities in the right place or that he is inherently evil and did that to try to sway us.



If it’s the age difference only, well my youngest sister was 14 when she started dating her 19 year old then-boyfriend. They dated for five years, until she was 19, and then married. They have been married for 11 years now, with four children. :wink:

I believe it is natural for a parent to worry about their child, especially their innocent daughter, especially on their first date! Although you worry, you have to understand that you can’t protect your daughter from every temptation in life, or every thing/one that might potentially hurt her. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but it’s something good to keep in the back of your mind. My parents let their fear rule their actions, and they ended up smothering my older sisters, which in turn made my sisters less inclined to come to them, or share information with them. It ended up pushing them away, something you don’t want to do with your child. Plus, it doesn’t sound like they have done anything incriminating yet that should warrant you to suspect them of any illicit behavior. So far it sounds like this guy has gotten good reviews from other people you know who know him and his family better than you do. I would suggest getting more opinions of people who know him, or even getting to know the guy yourself. It’s true some guys try to pull the wool over parents eyes, and play the good guy. But they can’t keep up a facade like that forever. If you (or your wife) are perceptive, you will see through an act. If the guy backs off because you insist on a “get to know you” dinner, then he is still unsure of what level of commitment he feels toward your daughter. Not necessarily incriminating, but it tells you the strength of the bond between them. That doesn’t mean insist on a get together right this instant, but once they’ve been dating for a reasonable amount of time, you might press for something like that. Or if you tend to have parties, cookouts, etc, you could casually invite him to come (a less direct approach is less awkward, and more likely to work with teenagers who avoid awkward situations like the plague itself). Inviting him through your daughter is even better. I’m sure your daughter would want him there, and the guy is more likely to say yes if it’s her who is insisting, rather than you. Then, instead of confronting him directly, watch him first, and watch how he interacts with others.

If your daughter starts sneaking around for no apparent reason, it might be time to start getting worried. If your daughter seems to show a much greater amount of commitment to this guy than the guy shows toward her, it’s probably time to be doubly worried. But for now, just wait and see, be patient, and try to reign in your worries and frustrated emotions. If you accuse anyone of something before they’ve done anything wrong, it undoes all your effort to protect your daughter. Hope that helps you :slight_smile:

Thanks for your input- I’m new at this- just turned 55- daughter 16ish and son 14 are adopted-if I was in my 30’s maybe I couldhash thru it but I guess I’m still in the seventies- “conservative wing”.

I have to add this beause it is a great observation- a female that I work with has two sons and says-"Sons are better than daughters because with a son you only have to worry about one penis!


I hope you are not offended but, I think its not a good idea . Shes still a minor and he is 20 years old .Why can’t he go out with a girl his own age ? When older males go out with younger girls they tend to take advantage and convince the girl that they love them and sexual intercourse gets into the picture . I would throw a red flag up on this one.I’m a male and I can tell you that in most cases I have seen it does not turn out positive .

Sixteen is too young to date, and 20 is too old to be interested in 16 year olds.

I tend to agree on both counts.

At 16, she is nowhere near discerning marriage. No reason to be exclusively dating yet (regardless of age gap or not).

And I think there is a substantial enough mental/maturity gap between 16 and 20 that a romantic relationship should not be pursued.

If they remain friendly acquaintances, then that’s nice. If the interest is still there when she’s graduating high school, heading to college, old enough (in years and in thought) to understand discerning marriage then the fact they they have known each other for so long may be helpful. When she’s 18 and he 22, less of an age gap issue, I think, and even less so when she’s 20 and he 24, and so on as the get older.

Honestly, to me this seems weird. I would invite him to spend time with your daughter at your home. Pick up a movie from the RedBox or whatever, come over and give you a chance to get to know him for a few weeks. This allows your young daughter to get to know him in a safe environment, and it also allows you and your wife an opportunity to get to know him and his intentions as well.

That being said, my husband is 12yrs older then I am, however I was 20 when we got together and not 16. 3-4yrs is not a huge age difference, but I am concerned as to what a 20yr old guy would see in a high school girl.

Also, make sure your priorities are made clear to him. He is not to become your daughter’s supplier of cigarettes, alcohol or anything sexual.

I married someone 8 years older. This guy, who may be quite wonderuful, needs to check back in after a few years.

a) Twenty year olds tend to resent chaperones, and a 16 year old is too young to chaperone herself.

b) The difference in experience and readiness to marry is too great, as well.

A 4 year difference is nothing…when you’re mature and 20 or 22. Sixteen year olds, if they date, should date other people their own age.

I think it sounds bad. However if you want to go easy just take the guy aside and tell him you are not comfortable with them dating until she’s 18. If his intentions are good then he can restrain himself for all of a year.
18 is still far too young to date seriosly but its legal and sometimes it does work. But a 4 or 5 year difference in 3 or 4 years will mean nothing.

The age difference is not automatically a bad sign. I know several couples where the man was 20 or older when he began dating a girl in her mid-teens, and the men are genuinely good men who are not taking advantage of their girlfriends at all. One couple has been married for 7 years and have two children! Plus, my husband and I are 10 years apart. We met right after I turned 20 and he was just about to turn 31, and plenty of people were nervous that he was a creepy old man trying to take advantage of a young college girl. Obviously that was not the case! It’s not quite the same as a teen and a young adult getting together, but you can’t deny there is a big difference between being 20 and being 31 and it raised many red flags when in reality there was nothing wrong.

If your daughter is as mature as you say she is, I think it’s entirely possible the 20-year-old sees her as his intellectual equal despite her age and wants to date her because he truly enjoys her company and they have a lot in common. If this were a case of an immature teen being courted by an older man who has a bad reputation, then I would worry. Here, though, it sounds like your daughter might have found a good man. It’s also a good sign that they were introduced by friends, because it probably means he was not out specifically prowling for teens to date. He just happened to meet your daughter and realized there was chemistry between them.

It’s great that you’re a concerned parent and are wanting to guide your daughter towards making good choices. Too many parents just let their kids do whatever they want without any guidance or boundaries. However, in this case I don’t personally see anything that would make me think the relationship should be stopped right now. Maybe it would be a good idea to give him a chance to show you he’s a good man, especially since smothering and controlling a teen who will be a legal adult in just 18 months as if they were 12 could end very badly in so many ways. Like it or not, you’re going to have to start transitioning into the role of advice-giver rather than final decision-maker sooner rather than later. I am grateful that my parents understood that when I was a teen, and loosening the reins as I approached 18 was the best thing to do in the long run even though it made them nervous. They knew they had to start trusting that they raised me well enough to make good decisions, because the time came very quickly when they were no longer able to make the decisions for me.

I wouldn’t be comfortable with it. Age difference matters more the younger you are. DH is 7 years older than I am–but I was 21 when we met and a senior in college. If my DD was 16 and had a 20 year old interested in her, there wouldn’t be any dates until she turned 18. And honestly no matter how mature your DD is, she hasn’t dated before. And since this is the first guy who has been interested in her, I’d be even more concerned since she may want the reassurance of a guy enough to put maturity aside. She’s only 16…

I think you have to consider no matter how mature your daughter is, she still isn’t an adult…this guy is. They need to wait or take it REALLY slow…which in my book is no dating.

Just my $0.02.


I would question a 20 year old man who reaches backward 4 years to be interested in a 16 year old girl. That he is a MAN and she is still a teenage GIRL is a problem. Either he is immature and does not feel comfortable with young women his own age, or he is attracted to girls, not women. Not saying pedophile but maybe just looking too far backward.

Your daughter is going to have an unbalanced reaction to a MAN who is giving her attention v. one of her peers. Very heady stuff for a girl to handle, especially one who has not been exposed to boys her own age. You may think she is more socially mature, but she is still just 16. Protect her from unwise relationships.

I would also caution you, I know you said she is in the arts and it can be difficult, but do not let her spend ALL her time with homosexual males. They don’t have the healthiest attitude toward women.

I agree.
A grown up man should seek the company of a grown up woman… Alot happens in 4 years between 16 and 20.
If your daughter is way mature and intelligent for her age maybe they have a good chance, that is, if he is also mature and intelligent.
Most 16 years olds are immature and they don’t know the consequences of their actions.
It took me a thousand years to get over the damage of a short relationship I had with an older guy when I was 17. I had no idea what I was doing, and this person had already been with many women and always begged me to sleep with him.
Most people are not ethical thinkers at the age of 16 and they have all the wrong reasons for dating.
I have seen that in my near family too…

Id say sit her down and take some real good chastity talk with her about her life goals, what sexuality is all about, and how her relationship with Jesus is central to keeping her happy and healthy.

I agree with the rule: no dating until 18.
Even at that age some people are not mature at all.

If she really wants to date, ask her to bring the guy home and introduce him. He can come and pick her up and you can fry him with questions and make clear that he is gonna suffer if he leads her astray. This can be done discretely.

I sure wish my parents had held me accountable when I was in that age but because they thought I was a good and mature girl and they didn’t wanna pry into my privacy they gave me way too much freedom and I was harmed alot.

I dated a 23-year-old when I was 16. My parents actually set me up with him. :rolleyes: I was undamaged, though I found him dull and broke up with him fairly quickly.

My 17-year-old sister dated a guy who was 22. They’ve been married over 13 years now, with four children.

I don’t mean to discount everyone’s personal experiences, but I just want to say that a 20-year-old interested in a 16-year-old is not necessarily perverted, or a weirdo, or any of these other things. He may simply like your daughter as a person.

And my own experiences and those of my family are not even the largest age gap I’ve seen work. I know a guy who was 21 when he first started “dating” a 14-year-old. They went places with her family and with groups of friends, including their youth group. But by the time she was 21, they married. They have three children and have been married over 25 years.

Just my experience.

I’d say follow your instincts as a parent, don’t let them be alone together but allow him to come to the house, watch tv and eat dinner with your family, be kind to him, but if you and your wife are hesitant then you have a right and an obligation to maintain control of the situation.
If he’s a decent guy he will gain your trust and confidence, if your suspicions turn out to be correct than you’ll be glad you didn’t allow him to take advantage of your kid.

Your daughter is very fortunate to have such caring and involved parents. There are parents who allow so many things that put kids at risk that it makes me wonder why they even bothered with a family in the first place.

With all due respect, in my opinion this quote is your whole problem. What a vulgar statement to make. Not to mention as a woman it offended me. Saying son’s are better than daughters obviously made me a second best child for my parents to have.

If you want your daughter to date respectable men, you first have to show her what a respectable man is. When I read your first post, you made comments such as ‘Wife is more uncomfortable than me’ Good husbands do not say ‘Wife’. They take the time to type the extra 2 characters and say ‘My wife’

So, do I sympathize with yoru concern ? ‘Yes absolutely’. But cut this guy some slack. Maybe he brought his 6 year old sister to the movie to deceive you. Maybe he is a real good older brother. Give him time to prove it.

Have the guy over, tell your daughter you would be more comfortable she has group dates. Make a rule, for everytime you want to go out with him, you have to then have a girls outing without him (ie given her the opportunity to meet more people and share with her friends and build trusting friendships’

But to be honest, I have to wonder (as I wonder with many father’s) Is your concern coming from te fact that you were once young and wild and never truly repented in your heart? If a man has truly repented in his heart, he then know first hand there is such a thing as respecting women. But when a man never truly repented from his youth in his heart and the only reason he settled down is because he was getting old and there was nobody left to ‘clown around with’ then he can not comprehend a gentleman would want his daughter.

Sorry I am coming across as hars but hearing ‘boys are better kids to have then girls’ does make me less sympathetic

Wow, thanks for pointing that out, I missed that comment! :eek:

Quite disgusting to say such a thing about boys OR girls - just nasty. Boys can sure do a lot of harm with that one piece of equipment, hardly something to be happy about!!! And both girls and boys can be ruined by their interactions with the opposite gender, there really is no “better” option - each has challenges unique to the gender.

I think anything else I have to say at this point will not be helpful nor charitable, not since I read that comment by the OP.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit