this is by request, a reprint from 2010.
LET YOUR DAUGHTER DATE WHEN SHE IS YOUNG. Yeah, that’s what I said. You should let your daughter “date” when she is in 6th or 7th grade.
I hear you yelling at me, “Woman, are you out of your mind?”
Before you stop reading , let me state my case and define dating. I don’t think you should allow your 13 year old to jump in a Chevy van with shag carpet and drive off with a 16 year old boy.
You should however let your 12 year old have a “boyfriend” And here’s what they will do.
1. Talk at school
2. Text and chat (Notice: you pay for her phone you can always pick it up and see what’s on it. Always. This is not negotiable.)
3.On the weekends you might take the boy with you to eat pizza or go to the mall. And if you are pretty trusting you might allow them to go to the skating rink or bowling alley, alone, during the day for an hour and a half. While they are skating they might hold hands, they will hug and they might kiss. But not much more will happen because they are in a bowling alley waiting for you to return.. And while all this talking and hand holding hands is going on your daughter, will learn so many valuable first boy lessons. And after two or three weeks they will break up.
As a result of the breakup the most important lesson your daughter will learn is….there are lots of boys in the world so breaking up isn’t such a big deal.
My youngest daughter, knew a lot about guys when she was in 6th grade. She knew how to break up with a guy in person and in a nice way. She figured out guys don’t like girls who get crazy obsessed. They like girls with a life, interests and self esteem.
And she knew you shouldn’t have to choose between friends and boy friends and if a guy really liked you he would be ok with her having a live. If he’s an actual good guy he won’t ask or demand that you to quite things you love like the band, volleyball or the poetry club.
My oldest daughter, Mary, never had a boyfriend in Jr. High or High School. She was the perfect daughter and perfect student, but we discouraged the entire idea of boys. Then, when she was 18 years old and had a full scholarship to a university in St. Louis, Mary fell in love with Billy the semi-pro hockey player who’s e-mail address was “toker69”.
Ten years ago my oldest daughter, Mary, got in huge trouble at the age of 18 cause she never learned “boy lessons”. As a result, her first boyfriend, at eighteen, had an email address of “toker69@ email.com” and she fell like a 12 year old girl, she fell like Romeo and Juliet. After a stellar high school career and getting lots of scholarships she announced, as I placed the Thanksgiving turkey on the table, that she was leaving school for a year to be with this stoned hockey player She used all the classic first love lines like, “Nobody understands us.” “We’ll prove everyone wrong.”. “I’ll never love anyone else.” It was so gross and shattered our family.
Mary didn’t’ want to hurt me or our family, her heart was just in charge and she didn’t have any prior love experience.. Unfortunately, because she was eighteen I couldn’t save her. I could cry and beg and holler, but in the end, that’s all I could do.
Mary’s pre-teen heart was completely overriding her magnificent, full scholarship, med-school brain.
It’s a messy and complicated story, and I’ll tell you Mary is great now so you don’t have to worry.. She dumped “toker69” after 9 months, got back into school and is much much wiser now. But here’s what I believe, If Mary had when she was young she wouldn’t have been hopelessly naïve about young men and love.
If she had dated a boy when she was thirteen, if I let her hang out at the bowling alley with her 115 pound 8th grade boy friend, Mary would have learned that
- boys rarely respect girls who give up their independence.
2. boys, will sometimes say anything to make you love them.
3. boys are going to fall in love with her . So she didn’t have to say yes to the first one.
And here’s the real kicker, it doesn’t matter if you “forbid” your daughter to have a boyfriend. If she likes a cute guy with swoopyhair and he likes her she will have a boy friend. You just won’t know about it. And every time you drop her off at the movies or the bowling ally with a couple of girls, the boy will be waiting for her. And they will hold hands and kiss and she just won’t tell you about it.
You can’t stop love.
What’s better knowing who the boy is, talking to him, and counseling your child or being in the dark and having your daughter keep secrets from you.
So, do yourself a favor. Let her have a boyfriend while you can control the situation, if she wants one. Even if you say “no” she’s still gonna have one at school. At least this way…you’re in control and can scare the Hell out of him if necessary.