Teenage Dating: How to Handle Your Daughter’s First Boyfriend
Watching your teenager daughter become less involved in family and more engaged with her peers — in dating — can be heartbreaking. I feel powerless to keep my little girl in the sandbox with pigtails. I never thought I would become that dad whose eyes welled up with tears at the thought of walking his little girl down the aisle or who reminisces about moments when she used to hold my hand and look at me like I was her hero.
Now she buries her face into her phone and texts her friends about her co-ed 13th birthday party. While she and her mother shopped forShinDigz birthday decorations and talked about friends from school to invite, my daughter said “her boyfriend’s” friends can’t wait for the party. Boyfriend!? Time to face reality. And so it begins.
Although I can’t stop my little girl from growing up, I do have the authority to monitor and restrict her phone and Internet usage. Establish rules such as no texting during dinner and until homework is complete. By 9 o’clock, cell phones and the computer are off limits. Limitations will help prevent your teen from being consumed by the relationship.
She may hate you. She may fight you, but resistance and attitude come with the territory of raising teens. Set boundaries that make you comfortable such as creating a curfew and only allowing group dates. At this age, in my eyes, one-on-one dates in the basement watching a movie are inappropriate. GuySpeak.com reminds us that “whether or not they want to admit it, teenagers crave structure and rules.” So set boundaries, create structure, make rules and stand by them.
If you want to trust your daughter, then give her that trust by communicating openly about the responsibilities of dating and making good decisions. Avoid a condescending and controlling approach that would cause a defensive reaction or rebellion. Have an open conversation about sex, protection, STDs and pregnancy as well as maturity and emotions. If it makes your position easier, invite her mother or a close female adult to join in the dialogue.
Explain to your teen that you respect her decision to date, but she must also uphold her other responsibilities, including her grades, extra-curricular activities or sports, and household chores. Set up an agreement that your teen will lose dating privileges if she can’t keep up with her academic and household obligations.
Be Aware & Sensitive
Chances are your teenage daughter’s relationship won’t last. Hearts will break. Acknowledge your daughter’s feelingsduring a break-up or heartbreak, even if she doesn’t express her feelings to you directly. Don’t dismiss or ridicule what she’s going through. In her eyes, her world has fallen apart, and the best you can do is be supportive and understanding.