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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