If you want to date my teen, find a cozy seat on the couch.
Can you remember that first flutter inside that told you that a person in your life meant something a little more than some of the others? You know that feeling of excitement, nerves, and the thrill of teenage love? If you are raising a teen, you know that inevitably they are bound to experience something like this. When they do, I want my teen to know we are ready. While no one wants to imagine their baby crossing over into the romantic zone, teens are young people with big feelings and relationship goals too. We should grasp the opportunity when our teen wants to start dating to teach them boundaries, respect for self, and above all, safety. But, teens should also understand the effects of bringing someone new into your life and what it means to everyone in the family. If you want to date my teen, find a cozy seat on the couch.
Going down memory lane, we can all agree that teenage dating is not always the perfect fantasy you may create in your mind. All the feelings from the awkwardness of middle school crushes all the way to the potential heartbreaks in high school can wreak havoc on a young person. It is not easy being in middle school or high school, but add to the mix the unfamiliar flood of new emotions, a heavy school workload, and you can quickly feel overwhelmed as a kid.
I decided early on with my kids that having co-ed play dates or parties was important.
Instead of rushing to ban boys as they got older, I told my daughter quite the opposite. I took the approach with her to always be friends with boys the same as girls. I listened to countless stories from my girls about who liked who and which boys only liked certain girls and so on. My daughter told me that she actually liked hanging out with the boys sometimes instead. She did not like the drama that came with the girls fighting over the boys. I reminded my daughter it was important to be friends first with boys so she could recognize the difference between friendship and when a boy shows an interest that he likes her.
Fast-forward, and we have a sophomore and a seventh grader and have definitely had some experience with young crushes and the dating subject. First came the middle school dance, then the High School Homecoming dance, then drop-offs at the movies or ice cream. When it comes to dating in our house, it is an open topic.
If you want to date my son or daughter, you date the whole family.
Obviously, we do not insert ourselves physically between them at the movies or show up at the dance. That would be teenage ruin. “Dating the whole family” means that when you choose to show interest in dating our child, you need to show us that you are also interested in getting to know the things and people our child loves. When the boy who likes my daughter sees me coming in the hallway at school, a genuine, respectful greeting goes a long way with me. Getting to know us as parents who have rules and treating our other children and pets kindly will ultimately win over our daughter, but more importantly, it will earn our trust. So, if you want to date my teen, find a cozy seat on the couch. We are pretty cool people, I promise.