The Dating Game

I have had my head buried blissfully in the sand over the whole boy/girl business when it comes to my very-soon-to-be-teen, and younger tween daughter.  I look at the dating scene as WAY FAR in the future.  Kind of the way I was in denial about PUBERTY as they were losing their baby teeth.

And yet, here we are.

It is different with girls.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be.  But it is.

When Jensen announced his engagement to E a couple of years ago, at the tender age of 5, we all thought it was adorable.  Premature.  But adorable.  There was some hugging and a few stolen kisses, but nothing that got out of hand (E’s parents may have an altogether different point of view, as they are the parents of the daughter).  I can tell you that in our household, Fiddledaddy was secretly proud of his little man.

I suppose this could simply be blamed on the gene pool.  Fiddledaddy had to fight off the elementary sized girls of his youth, while I was known to lure the older neighbor boy over to my side of the street with promises of chocolate.

And then I was engaged in the 4th grade, even procuring an adjustable ring.

But then it happened.  Boys have begun entering the fray, buzzing around my oldest daughter.  This is not all bad news, since I’ve noticed that I get WAY better customer service from the teenaged boys at the McDonald’s drive-thru whenever she rides shot gun in the van.

Now this is all I’m at liberty to divulge.  You cannot even begin to imagine the blog fodder that this new stage of parenting has produced, but out of respect for my daughter, and the fact that she can read, and all of her friends can read, my lips must remain sealed.

But it’s killing me.

Anyhoo.  I am now forced to face harsh reality that dating is eminent.  But when?  Fiddledaddy and I have discussed the age of 16, but it will completely depend on her level of maturity.  So it could be 30…

I was looking for answers at one of my go-to parenting websites, Mom’s Homeroom (and yes, I’m biased, I have worked for Mom’s Homeroom…LOVE them), and happened on an article discussing how parents can wittingly (and unwittingly) control their children’s social lives.  Then the subject veered toward that of dating, and I have to say that I was surprised to read, “nearly half of all 11 to 14 year olds have already been in a dating relationship.”  WHAT?  This was a study conducted by a Chicago youth marketing and research firm in a study of over 1,000 tweens.

Now, in its defense, the article did go on to say that these tweens rarely spend time in person with their dating partner, since they rely on texting and social media for communication.

Someone needs to define dating for me then.  I’ve always been under the assumption that dating (insert air quotes) is when a young man drives up to the home of a young lady and escorts her out on a, you know, date.  Now in our home, that ritual will include a prelude of forms to fill out, and then a demonstration of how well we clean our guns.  And perhaps to be topped off with a viewing of Fiddledaddy’s mug shots from his time in the state penitentiary.

As it is now, I’m concentrating on stressing the importance of developing FRIENDSHIPS.  I am blessed to have a relationship with my daughter that includes her ability to pour her heart out to me.  I am walking across delicate eggshells as I gently guide her through this precious time.  I know that it may not always be this way, and I will treasure and use this time well.

And now I wanted to ask those of you who have braved these waters before me, when and how did you map out the dating guidelines for your own teenager?

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11 Responses to The Dating Game

  • Our girls are too young for dating (5&3) but they’ve already expressed to their dad their desire for a boyfriend. When he responded with a firm NO! the five year old threw her hands on her hips and declared he was being unfair. We are really looking forward to puberty in our house! Anyways, I really wanted to comment about the age that kids are beginning to “date”. The other night Hubby and I were at the local DQ and a loud middle school aged girl in the next booth was giving her friend’s mom (and the whole dining room) a run down on one of her relationships. When she mentioned “recess” and “dating” in one sentence I wanted to laugh. My dad used to ask us why we wanted to date and what we planned on doing while we were dating. Needless to say my first real boyfriend/date was with the man I married. Because that’s what dating is about.

  • We are right smack in the age of dating being a real possibility for our older two. They’re 16 & 18, and the youngest is 13…all 3 girls. Amazingly so far the issue really hasn’t been well, an issue. Our oldest has always said she wouldn’t date until she was in college (I say after she GRADUATES) and she’s stuck to that. Then again we also told them they weren’t allowed to even GO on a date until they were 21 unless it was a double date…with US! The fear of that has kept things in check here.

  • I have 3 boys and I can only shudder for you. But we told our kids flat out they don’t date until they can drive, have a job, and are 18. Since we can afford driver’s training yet (oh darn) not going to be happening any time soon. Or they may surprise me and do all 3 in one shot. Oy vey! Besides there is no reason to get emotionally tangled with someone when they’re not ready. Relationships are hard enough without having baggage from a previous relationship, especially one that started way too early.

    Good luck and may the force be with you!

  • I’m the mother of all boys.
    I did not previously map out when / how dating should go.
    I am thusfar impressed with how my (adult) men are handling it and they are setting the bar for their younger brothers.

  • Dating rule here were pretty easy. First the boy had to “Drive” to pick up our daughter so he was at least 16. Then he had to come to come in and meet the parents. One boy honked the horn, hubby walked out to the car and pulled the kid out of the car and announced that the date was over since he didn’t respect his baby girl by coming to the door to meet her parents and the placed him back in the car and walked away. Our daughter was already changed out of the date clothes. If the boy did come in, hubby would shake his had and ask him what time he had. The boy looking at his watch (yes they wore watches then but any device would work) and would say “Oh it’s 6:30”. Hubby would then point to a clock and say “Good, same time as I have so when this clock says 9:30 so will your watch and our baby girl will be home safe and sound right.”
    Baby girl was home home by 9! She often never had a second date with the same boy which was fine with us!
    She was well into her 20’s before she met a guy that kept coming back and was 27 before she got married to a great man! Who btw was the guy that kept coming back! They now have daughters and plan to use the same plan!

  • I think there’s a difference between going on a date (being picked up by someone who can drive) and “dating,” which is a girl and boy mutually liking each other and spending time together, usually supervised. When I was a child “dating” was called “going together,” not that we ever went much of anywhere. If we were lucky, our parents would drop us off at the mall and we could walk around, maybe hold hands (!!), catch a movie, or eat in the food court. There was no privacy and no real risk of getting put in an awkward situation that most 14 year olds aren’t equipped to handle. Kind of like pre-dating.

  • We are right in the middle of this very situation. My husband read and loved the book, “Interviewing your daughter’s date” by Dennis Rainey. He has put his own twist on it, but it really made sense to him.
    It is available on Amazon.

  • My daughter is 13 and is 5’8″ so I find that I’m having to give the stink eye to the older guys that ogle her. Luckily, she is so involved in cheer and gymnastics that she says she doesn’t have time for dating. Plus, she would rather be friends because she said if she were to date a guy friend then when they broke up she would lose a friend. Smart girl!

  • My oldest is Boy. On the way home from AWANA on Sunday he asked me, “What is the difference between dating and courting, and which are we going to do?” Which led to a long discussion. As you can probably imagine. Concluding with him confirming that he is not going to do anything about girls until he is at least 18. Fine with me. Just keep that thought in your head for the next 5 years, Boy.

  • There are times I regret teaching my children to read! What was I thinking! hahahahaha 🙂 You could start a new blog under fake names and send us there anonymously……yeah, I know. 🙁

    So far, my 13 year old has no interest in boys (fine by me). Let’s see how long that lasts. Dad says she won’t be dating till she’s 30! Funny daddy!

    Growing up……I went to church school and pretty much went to school with the same kids from 1st grade through high school. Not really much fun to “date” guys that are more like brothers to you (ewwww!). When we did to out on “dates” with “fresh meat”, we were usually in a big group. Big group outings will be the direction we will encourage. I always said I’d be thrilled to keep a fridge full of food and welcome everyone to our house. What teen can resist free food??!!! heeheehee 🙂

    Good Luck!

  • Oh. Dear. John! I’m totally with Brooke on this one. We have a few years (hopefully at least a decade) until Sweetgirl even begins to think about dating – but we’re planning to make our house the one where the groups come to “hang out”. (I can spy at will that way and I’m not ashamed to admit it!)

    Kayla – thanks for the suggestion on the book. That sounds like a good resource.