The day will inevitably come when your sweet pre-teen gets to be dating age. And oh, what a day that is, let me tell you. As a parent of three young women, I always thought I would know exactly what type of person they would bring home. Let's just say if I had been a gambling sort, I would have lost it all, time, and time again.
I have to say, thankfully, we haven't encountered not liking somebody one of our girls brought home all that often. Yannick, my husband, would most likely say, one that we don't like is one too many. But me, I'm a little bit more pragmatic. Maybe that's because women are accustomed to kissing a few toads along the road to finding everlasting love. Whatever the reason might be, I will say this, Yannick was often way more disappointed in their dating choices than I was.
So, if you're a parent venturing into new unchartered dating territory with your kid(s), may I impart to you the three things that helped me keep my cool while being in that land.
1. I have learned that if your son, or daughter, brings home somebody that you never imagined them spending time with I encourage you, before you forbid them from dating said person, that you do a few things:
A) ask yourself if you're simply being judgmental, meaning they don't look the way you pictured somebody your kid would be attracted to would look like. Or, they don't dress in a way that you appreciate. Whatever it is, check yourself before you condemn.
B) Give the awkward teen a chance. Have them over for dinner, try to get to know them, before you bring down the; "you must never see that kid again" a la Romeo and Juliet. We all know how that turned out.
C) Wait for them to ask you what you think, and only really tell them what you think once you've spent some time with the potential love of their lives. The sure fire way to get your kid to keep dating somebody you don't want them dating, is to protest the relationship, loudly, from the get go. Give it time, most often, a kid that isn't a good fit for your child will fall by the wayside quickly enough.
2. This is the hardest pill for any parent to swallow, but at the end of the day, you must remember this is NOT YOUR LIFE. These are their lives; these are their lessons to learn. They must date the very wrong person, so that when the right one does come along, and they eventually do, even if they come when one is in their fifties; it is their journey on this earth. Not yours. You're already in your own life experience(s), let them have theirs. You don't need to helicopter parent their dating lives too.
3. The only time you really need to get involved is if you truly believe that the relationship or the person is causing them physical harm, or leading them down an unhealthy path. This might be via drugs, alcohol, an eating disorder (we had a daughter who dated an anorexic boy, and that was not at all good for her), or every parent's nightmare; physical abuse. In any of these situations I say step in, immediately. These are not the sort of relationships you take the wait and see approach.
So, parents, if you're reading this and the boy with the terrible fashion sense, or the girl who is too shy to even look you in the eye isn't your cup of tea, try your best to just stay out of it, and trust that if you've down your job, and you've raised your child to be their best selves, they'll figure it out on their own.
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