Teaching How to Know When
Some people read about girls going on dates in sixth and seventh grade, and freak out. Of course, girls mature more quickly than boys and may want to start dating earlier than boys. Plus, they are usually not interested in a boy their age, but in one who is two or three years older. Your fear is that the older boys will be a bad influence on your little girl. “A father knows exactly what those boys at the mall have on their depraved little minds because he once owned such a depraved little mind himself,” says Bill Cosby.
To put an end to your fears, do not allow any dating before you feel your daughter can maturely handle the situation, perhaps around age fourteen or fifteen. Of course, the appropriate dating age depends on her maturity and what experiences you may have had with an older child — or in your own past. Remember that some girls do not start dating until they are sixteen or seventeen. Then set a few rules that can solve many of the adolescent dating dilemmas for your girl. For example, you could ask her to:
Not date a boy she has seen only a few times and does not know well.
Trust her instincts. Have a plan in mind ahead of time to be safe in a dangerous situation.
Realize that alcohol and drugs decrease her ability to think straight, so don't use them, and don't date a boy who drinks or takes drugs.
Tell a friend whenever she is leaving a party with someone she does not know well, and have that friend make sure she arrives home okay by checking on her. Also she should text any change of plans to you.
Know the exact plans for the evening and make sure his parents know them, too.
Most important is to teach your daughter to be strong in her communications with her date. If your daughter says, “I'm not sure,” to her date, he might assume that she just wants to be pushed or pressured more until she says yes. Your girl should practice saying no loudly and repeatedly until her voice is strong, confident, and convincing.
Of the utmost importance is remembering that your daughter watches you carefully in your relationship with your spouse and other people. When she sees you model behaviors such as sticking up for yourself, disagreeing with someone in a firm but kind way, and giving and expecting respect, she learns these valuable qualities and will use them in her dating experiments and relationship rehearsals.
There is no right time for your daughter to be home. Sit down with her when both of you are calm and talk about her plans and your expectations. How old is your daughter? Is there a legal curfew for adolescents in your community? How well do you know her friends? Cell phones have made it simple for teens to disguise their actual location. Even with a GPS feature in play, like it or not, there is no way you can have absolute control of your daughter's where-abouts. Instead, let her know your concerns and agree together on a reasonable curfew. You should also decide in advance what will happen if she fails to come home on time. Be sure that you are willing to follow through before finalizing your agreement.
My daughter wants to start dating. What kind of curfew is reasonable?
Be conservative with setting her curfew. Ask some of the parents in the PTA or members of other parent organizations what they think is appropriate — depending on the occasion. Be sure to put a suitable consequence in place if your daughter does not return on time.