My daughter will be 10 years old in July. In approximately 3 more years I will be helping her get ready for her first date. Stop holding your breathe. It will be okay. I promise. But listen Linda...
For some parents, allowing a 13 year old to date may be a bit much. I am sure if I asked most would provide me with reasons that are all rooted heavily in misogyny and anti-girlhood. I won't bothering going the the countless misogyny filled reasons because all of us adult womenfolk have heard them countless time and for self-care purposes we don't need to say them out loud repeatedly.
Growing up it was understood, moreso demanded, that I refrained from dating or investing my time or attention in boys until i was at least 16. I always felt as if this was an unreasonable request and wasn't a very well thought out idea. Everyone knows that the worst thing you can do is to forbid your daughter (or son but this isn't about them) from doing something that comes biologically. Every time you tell a teenager 'no' they hear a challenge to their independence. You have to tread very carefully.
I started developing an interest in boys when I was around 9 years old. My first crush was on a young drummer boy in my church named Jay. I was head over heels in puppy love with him and remained so for years. We never actually dated and he ignored me until I was about 18. Then right in the middle of us "getting to know each other", he went to do what hoes do and got another girl in our church pregnant and welp...they are married now and #cornball. I'll tell that story later...
Most of my curiosity started due to the lack of conversation I was getting in regards to my hormones and things i was feeling. My mom never really talked to me about boys or sex and I wouldn't dare disclose to my step-father that I liked a boy. I couldn't even sit next to a boy in church or have male friends without him jumping to conclusions and swearing I was sucking down the whole block. Mind you I was only 10.
So it shouldn't be a surprise when I say that I was left to figure it out on my own. Had I been properly prepared and allowed to freely (within appropriate limits of course) been allowed to explore my curiosity and perhaps even been able to have these discussions with my parents I probably wouldn't have been in such a hurry to lose my virginity to which I said good-bye to the summer before my 9th grade year. I am comfortable saying that I am almost 95% positive that had I been talked to and allowed to explore my interests in a healthy way that I would have not felt the need to experience things before I was ready to. But the lack of support and guidance coupled with the insistence that it was "forbidden" on fueled my desire to explore thus...here I was.
What should you do if you don't think your daughter is ready for boys and the idea of dating?
I'll be honest. That isn't for you to decide. I know. You are the mother. You make the rules but nature waits for no one and the truth is, kids are being exposed to so much these days. More than we ever were when we were their age. With the internet, social media, Netflix Originals and Youtube it is literally impossible to keep anything away from your child and in my opinion it is completely careless as a parent to not acknowledge that. So a better question is:
Do you want your daughter to learn from you or from their friends?
If you don't mind your daughter coming home thinking that not eating meat is going to stop her period then by all means continue to neglect having these important conversations and keep refusing to open the floor for conversations and experimenting.
Instead of telling my daughter that she can't date a certain boy or go out with a certain person, I need to make sure she understands the "why". I can't expect her to be able to follow me or trust my guidance if I am not doing my part in including her in the conversation and allowing her the opportunity to ask questions so that she can have a better understanding of where I am coming from.
I hated when my mother or father would tell me to do something or not do something and when asked "why" (which I believe IS a valid question) I was immediately shut down and told "because I said so". Well, that was never a good enough answer for me. In fact, all that did was piss me off and make me even that much more determined to do what it is what I wasn't suppose to do.
The rules should set forth should be clear and concise. There should be no room for misunderstanding and no room for loopholes. Things like curfew, outing circumstances and the like should be outlined and clear. If you aren't quite ready for them to be alone offer opportunities for them to spend time together in a controlled and supervised environment. This allows your daughter the opportunity to see that you are allowing her room to grow by affording her your trust and it also allows you the opportunity to be able to keep an active eye to make sure boundaries and rules are being respected.
Make sure your teen also understands about the various types of abuse and what the warning signs are. Don't just talk about physical or sexual abuse but also let them know about verbal abuse, this is probably more prevalent and easier to miss the warning signs. Tell your teens that if their boyfriend/girlfriend is trying to control them by flirting with others, threatening to break up if they don't get their own way, trying to keep them isolated and cut them off from their friends, that these are all signs of abuse and your teen should be very cautious with that person.
Issa win for everyone.
My biggest fear when I started having a serious interest in boys was them meeting my parents. When I was interested in a boy or dating someone I went out of my way to avoid them stepping any where close to my house. Watching TV shows with teenage girls who were dating and their parents were always extremely rude or curt with the boy. They would grill him for hours, asking him overly intrusive questions and spending time putting the fear of all the gods in him. It was horrifying. I never wanted to embarrassed like that.
Seeing your baby grow up right before your eyes is a hard reality to face for any parent. Fathers are seeing their little girls grow up and mothers are watching their little girls become young women. It is natural to want to protect them with everything that you have inside of you but like all things we have to learn to let go and allow them room to flourish on their own.
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