I escaped it for 17 years of parenthood, but the odds were always stacked against me. I have two beautiful and intelligent daughters, and eventually a boy smart enough to see it was going to come calling. We’ve raised them to seek their identity in the things that matter and not in the superficial, so they are somewhat intimidating to young men. Good! But sooner or later a boy of equal substance was going to show up, and now he has. Do I even have dating rules ready? I’d better.
My daughter and her boyfriend spend almost every free moment they have in our house. They both have busy schedules, but if they aren’t learning or working, they are in our home. They love to cook together in our kitchen and try out new recipes. They turn on the music and sing, dance, and make a bunch of the healthy-type of food that is so popular today. It’s all pretty cute.
Interestingly, this young man is aggressive in his desire for me to know him and vice versa. This isn’t at all the new modern type of teenage dating where they hang out in groups and go through levels of “talking.” What’s taking place is a good old fashioned courting process. The young man’s mother did a very good job teaching manners and etiquette to her son. He ate with us at Easter and even brought flowers and a dessert. We’ve been impressed with his behavior. That said, this is still my daughter we’re talking about and I’m not naïve. He might be a well-adjusted young man full of the right things, but I was not at his age, and I know all the angles. I’m not proud of my years as a teenage boy, but as a parent I have a wealth of experience to draw upon. The hardest task is not to project my experiences on these two when they are not doing anything wrong.
What should we expect from our teenagers when they start dating? Here are my dating rules.
1. Keep it in Perspective
When two people connect in such a way, it’s difficult to not get carried away with what’s going on. For teenagers, perspective isn’t the easy thing to begin with. When they are dating, it can get distorted in a hurry. As a parent, stay on top of the feelings and things being discussed. You’re dating in high school. Keep it right there. The future will take care of itself.
2. Accept Each Other
My daughter is a unique individual. She’s naturally beautiful and reaches a stunning level when she wants to. But she’ll not use her looks to attract people. She wants people to like the “weird” things about her. I love that trait in her. Accept each other as is, and in the process, you’ll learn good things from each other.
3. Keep the Door Open
We all know why. There will be none of that.
4. Spend Time with Your Parents
In this case as I’ve explained, that’s not an issue with my daughter and her boyfriend. But if it was, I’d say something. If you’re avoiding us, you’re hiding something.
5. PDA Control
They are cuddly with each other. I cringe. No father likes to see his daughter cuddled with a boy. Control the public displays of affection and in private too. I know you’re going to kiss, but I sure don’t want to see it.
In all its forms and all its meanings. Show my daughter the respect she deserves, and she’s been taught to treat you the same way. Chances are high that this relationship will eventually come to an end. When proper respect has been observed the entire time, that moment will be a lot easier and far less messy. This is a dangerous age where everything we do is put under a microscope. Stay on the high road and never leave it.
7. Obey all Curfews and Rules
11:30 means 11:30. No exceptions. And no, you can’t go out of town together to see a concert. Unless I’m invited too.
8. For the Parents – Trust Your Efforts
We spent all those years teaching and instilling values. Trust them until it’s proven they can’t be trusted. Uncalled for intervention might result in exactly what you’re trying to prevent.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your teen and the person they are dating, and clearly give them your expectations.