There’s a thin line between insanity and coping with your daughter dating.
Our son is 16 and has begun to date a sweet and lovely young lady that we all like very much. With that, I’ve already said too much.
Our daughter is 14 and slated to begin high school in the fall. We have enjoyed 14 blissful years as the parent of a sunny, happy, open and athletic girl.
She is level-headed, practical and able to laugh at herself. She doesn’t hesitate to seek our advice or assistance and is strongly grounded in church and family. She has been dubbed “Golden Child” by one friend. At the risk of being “that mom” — it suits her.
Early on it became apparent she was an athlete. Mr. Wonderful and I were sure we had seized upon the perfect cure for the “boy crazy” virus that seems to plague some young girls. Sports keep her too busy to have time to worry about much of anything else. We went as far as to refer to her soccer uniform as “boy repellent.”
As it happens, we were wrong.
We have discovered that boys like girls in church dress, soccer uniforms and, probably, a burlap sack.
All joking about daughters not dating until they are 30 years old aside, I’ve never understood that model. Call me a practical, smother mother, but I would much rather my children practice dating and relationships under my watchful eye.
The idea of prohibiting any access to the opposite gender until adulthood only to let them burst out fully free with absolutely no experience in how relationships should work is frightening to me. I would much rather they have years of practice with group dates while I still have the power to dictate terms and rules.
Dating, of course, is different since we rode our dinosaurs to the picture show. In this modern age of social media and texting, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the options available to teens. In my day you had to spend hours listening to each other breathe over a telephone line. Today’s teens can text, message, Snapchat and Tweet their way through the “getting to know you” phase. Frankly, pretty much all dating is “online dating” these days.
As a newbie to the world of teen relationships I am finding my years spent as a sideline sport mom have not been spent in vain. It seems to me teen dating really does follow the same path that childhood sports do.
You begin under the watchful eye of parents and coaches (often one and the same). Most of your attributes (both good and bad) can be traced back to dear old mom and dad.
As you grow older and more skilled you branch into the more competitive arena — maybe even league play. If you are lucky you play smart. You play safe. Most importantly, you are always a good sport who knows that staying friendly after the game outweighs anything that happens on the field of play.
Nobody wants to be picked last. Some are going to be superstars pursued by all. Others may sit quietly on the sidelines, but when their big play comes, they are ready. Sadly everyone is going to suffer some bumps and bruises, but we pray the pain is soon forgotten, the recovery is quick, and there is wisdom gained in avoiding collisions in the future.
If we continue on this path of teen dating, and I honestly hope “we” do, I envision lots of coaching from parents and friends. Teamwork (“tell her I like her”), peer review (“he’s cute!”) and exhaustive and intense “camps” (aka prom).
I rely heavily on “the village” for input. If I’ve known you since kindergarten, assume I’m going to be watching closely to see if you still enjoy sticking glue up your nose. If you are a veritable unknown, assume the grapevine will be humming while I try to figure out who you are before you have access to one of the two most important pieces of my heart. I will expect the same from your parents. It’s not just your Facebook profile. It’s a social resume. Be warned. Feral, free-range suitors need not apply.
The truth is that at the end of the dating game — and game of life — I hope my children emerge safe, smart, well-loved, and well respected. Granted, this is my daughter we are talking about. All those years of training have not been for nothing. I like knowing she has a mean right elbow and a solid hip check too.