With this new found bf, she was going to have to find a way to see him. And she did. No sooner had I discovered this when i suspected she must be finding some way to commence the relationship in person. Luckily, i am a hypersensitive, nosy mother who often checks my teens' text messages and fb accounts. (It is simply amazing what you can learn from your teen by being just a touch nosy.) Of course, I immediately let her know that having a bf is simply not endorsed at our house, at her age. Certainly not one that we don't know or approve of. This may seem controlling or authoritative, but this was not a new discussion. My older son had had a gf for quite some time that we were not thrilled about, and excercising his right to disagree with our opinion. In order to attempt to learn from our mistakes and to get better control of the situation, Hubby and I went out one night to game plan our parenting tactics on the issue, over a beer. What we came up with was nothing short of genius (it was really good beer).
We came up with a set of "Universal Dating Rules" to teach our daughter. These timeless rules may appear old-fashioned, but executed in the modern world, with proper delivery, and a solid foundation of relationship with your teen, these will hopefully get the kiddo on a good path. "Raise your child the way he should go" comes to mind right now. In a nutshell, we explained 4 or 5 phases that a relationship with the opposite sex should follow. Most phases will never be experienced with the vast majority, and hopefully, only a lucky few will be allowed to enter phase 3, and only one to phase four. Phase One: Friendship. How many male friends are you allowed to have? She answered, 4 or 5. The correct answer is: UNLIMITED. Honey, you can have as many male friends as you want. We hope you have several healthy friendships with males. Two: Dating. How many people do you think you are allowed to date at once? She answered one. AHHH. And herein lies the communication/tool/language part of this post. We had discovered a critical distinction. 'DATING' IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH 'BOYFRIEND'. It is so simple, but so obvious. When I was allowed to "date" at 16, I was so anxious for that first date on my sixteenth birthday with my "boyfriend". But i wasn't allowed to date until i was 16, so why the hell did i have a boyfriend???? But let's move on. NO! We told her, you can 'date' many people. In my opinion, you shouldn't try and juggle more than three at a time, but that being said, I prefer you date more than one person at a time. Why?? Because i don't think its healthy for a 16-21-ish year old to get overly involved with one person. You learn things from dating. You learn about yourself, you learn about people, you learn about what you like, what you don't like, and importantly, you don't get emotionally attached if you know you may be going out with Bachelor #2 next weekend.
We went on to describe our ideas about boundaries should exist in dating relationships and the difference between the boundaries of a dating relationship vs. boundaries in a bf/gf relationship and time periods, and household rules, age related expectations, etc. Then continued: When the lucky guy is 'so honored' and 'earns' his way into 'actually being called your bf', and it is all done in the proper manner, you will have our blessing. And this, my dear, not only applies to the present, but to when you are 20 and off to college, or a single professional at 27 and no longer live at home.
She broke up with him the next day.
There are many morals to this story. My theory seems to hold true: Lead with love, build your teen up (especially your daughters), explain why and don't be a control freak, develop your communication level with them to the point that you can distinguish potential errors in their thinking, keep on the look out, and always, always draw the analogy between your boundary setting and love for them (because you want nothing less than the absolute best for them and all their dreams to come true) and God's love for us. How He sets boundaries for our GOOD and always has our best in mind, always. How many times have you heard that your view of God is affected by how you view your earthly father? Keep that in mind as you talk to your kids. And don't let me fool you, I am sure I will have to repeat the lesson over and over before she actually hears it. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Again.
And to reiterate: Dating is not/does not necessarily mean boyfriend/girlfriend.