It is the time that parents have been looking forward to and dreading all at the same time: your daughter wants to date. You aren’t sure she is ready and you want to hold on to your little girl as long as possible. You also know this is inevitable and are excited that your little girl is growing up into such a beautiful young lady. You want your daughter to enjoy herself but also stay safe. The following tips might help.
Young girls usually want to start dating during the tween years, somewhere between the ages of 11 and 13. You might feel this is too young but the feelings your daughter is having are very real. Instead of brushing the subject aside or giving an unequivocal “no,” stay involved in your tween’s life. Have your daughter invite her friends to your home so you can meet the people she spends time with. Keep communication up with your daughter, asking questions about her likes and dislikes, her interests and her plans for the future. The more interested you are in your daughter’s life, without being judgmental the more she will be willing to share with you and the more she will respect your opinion.
You might want to set the rule, “No dating until you are 15 (or 16 or 17),” but you increase the chances of your daughter dating without telling you. Instead, set appropriate rules, such as:
- Before a date you must meet the other person
- The phone is turned off at a certain time
- The phone is turned off during certain family times, such as dinnertime
You might let your daughter know that if grades go down or if there are other violations of rules, such as not abiding by curfew, then the relationship will need to end.
Provide Safe Date Ideas
Early dating usually involves a group of tweens meeting to go to the movies, bowling, miniature golfing or other activities in your area. Beyond the group dates, make sure you provide safe ways for your daughter to get together with her boyfriend. You might set up a movie night at your house or ask your daughter and her date to join you for dinner. At this age, parents are usually driving and picking up. Make sure to take the time to meet the other parents and offer to share the driving.
Discuss Healthy Relationships
While you want to trust your daughter, you also want to empower her with information on how to stay safe and what to do should a unsafe situation. Remind your daughter that she should listen to her “inner voice.” If she feels uncomfortable in a situation, she needs to take immediate steps to get out of the situation. Let her know that she doesn’t have to do anything she doesn’t want to do or feels uncomfortable doing. Explain the danger signs of abusive relationships, such as her date wanting her to give up her friends, verbal insults, constant calls and texts and becoming angry when she isn’t available, jealousy if she talks to another boy and physical abuse. Let your daughter know that healthy relationships allow each person to be themselves; neither person tries to make the other person change or tries to become what they think the other person wants. Don’t be afraid to talk to your daughter if you see these signs in her relationship.
Talk About the Birds and Bees
If you haven’t talked to your daughter about sexual relationships, it isn’t too late. Talk about the reasons to wait and that you feel she is too young for sex. At the same time, be sure your daughter understands about safe sex and birth control. Explain that she has the right to say “no” and that her date should respect her decision. Remind her that you are there to answer any questions.
Remember Dating Means Different Things at Different Ages
Having a “boyfriend” at 11 years old often means you text each other every day, sit together at lunch and maybe hold hands in the hall at school. By the age of 13, dating might include going out with a group of friends, with the other person included in the group. It isn’t usually until a few years later that having a boyfriend involves a more physical (kissing, not necessarily sex) relationship and more one-on-one activities. Even so, you should be aware of what type of relationship your daughter has with her “boyfriend” as some girls rush into a more mature relationship.
The most important way you can let your daughter know about healthy relationships is to show her through your own relationship. Set a good example, treating your partner with respect and demandinbg respect from your partner.
Published On: August 05, 2014