Monday, August 24, 2009

Bench Talk: Teenagers and Dating

When is the correct age to allow teenagers to date?

Many parents would rightly say that it depends on the teenager, their maturity and responsibility level.

Can they go to a party too, if allowed to date?

(Carolin) Interesting topic Cathy. If this question was asked to the fathers of our daughters I think they would say 38 years old! What do you mean by date, go on a date to the movies with a guy or girl. Or do you mean having a steady boyfriend/girlfriend? I think it really depends on the kid. Some teenagers are more interested in the opposite sex earlier than others. And if we say No dating or boyfriend/girlfriend till a certain age. Then we run the risk that they will do and have behind our backs. I feel the lines of communication are more important then a age. When our children hit their teens I feel our job is more to advise and listen than to control and lecture. Of course, that is easier said than done, especially when our kids do what we feel are stupid things. And let me just say for the record even the most responsible, mature teenagers are going and doing what we would think are stupid things!

(Sunshine) Well I agree it is so hard to step back in our children's lives but at a certain stage, I think that we have got to give them a little more space. I mean who are we really kidding we can all talk and put rules in place which we need to do but inevitably some rules will be broken and others will be followed. I know that my parents did not (knowingly) let me have a boy friend until I was about 18 years old and even when I did I was only allowed to see him about 2 or three times a week total (out of the house or at my house). I actually think that this was the rule until I was about oh lets see married. I could see him more often if we went out in a group but on my own it was twice a week and never in either of our homes alone. It was a bit of a bummer but I did follow the rules and as a parent now so much of my parents rules make absolute sense to me now.

I, ( Cathy ), remember when I was a teenager. It was just me and my younger sister as far as things go. My father would not allow us to go out with a 'boy' by ourselves until we were practically 18 years old. We were allowed to go out with boys and girls as a group when we were 16 years old. I didn't have a boyfriend in high school. I had a great bunch of girlfriends and we did go to parties. I'm trying to remember how old I was for my first 'party'!

I really don't remember going to too many parties. My friends and I would drop by on occasion to some parties but we always ended up leaving shortly after we arrived. The drinking and drugs and promiscuity that was going on was not really our scene. We would stay for a while and really no body cared much if we left because they were all so out of it anyway.

My sister did have a boyfriend from 14 years old. She was allowed to see him only at our home and if they went out, I had to chaperon!!! Like I said, I have great girlfriends! I remember going rollerskating, a lot!

My younger sister would sometimes come to a movie with me and my boyfriend and his little brother honestly more so that we could see each other another night then because we wanted to take them. My younger sister still says that she is traumatized by the kissing that she had to witness from the back seat as we said good night. I don't remember that but when she brings it up I feel bad about it and I am very embarrassed (what was I thinking?).

Now, I am the mom of two teenage boys. The going out and dating thing hasn't started yet. I know it's just a matter of time. I'm wondering what kind of mom I will be? Will I be supportive and give them their space? Or will I be a nagging pest??? I hope to be supportive and cool with a nice air of fearful authority that the boys will keep in mind as they socialize!! Just recently I mentioned that to the teenager that I noticed that her boyfriend Dilbert rarely speaks to me. She said that he was afraid of me. I laughed and said GOOD he should be, I don't want him feeling too comfortable, he should have a healthy fear of me. My mom was only about 4 feet 9 inches and everyone of my boyfriends was always afraid of her. Also, being Italian some of my boyfriends would comment about how that had to be careful because they were sure that my uncles (Nick, Vince and Vito) were part of the Mafia. My dad was a man of very few words but his presence was always enough to make a boy nervous.

I agree with Carolin, a lot of how we decide how much rope to give our kids, depends on our kids. We are all blessed with kids who are confident to say no when necessary. ( I hope ) So far they all show signs of being responsible ( for teenagers ). I think we all trust our kids. Trust is also a fine line. Because we trust them when they tell us where, when and how but if they (and they probably will) start lying it is almost impossible to trust them. Also I remember one argument with the teenager when she said "when I tell the truth you never believe me". Just who are we to know when you tell us something if it is a lie or not! I have tried to explain to her that she will get to do more things she wants and have more freedom when she is honest with us.

Trust ,trust, trust..... Some kids will lie for no reason it is just part of the way that they do things and it is a hard habit to break them form. These are the kids unfortunately, who seem to be very good, believable liers. Others would never think of lieing and just doing it would make them feel very uncomfortable. These are the kids that are usually not very good liers and I hope that I have two of those living with me now. I don't know if that will happen however, because I use to lie all the time when I was younger. However, as an adult now, I have a real problem lieing.

A lot of the fear I have is not so much with our kids, but with all the possible situations they can find themselves in. Sometimes through no fault of their own. I know we can't put them in a bubble ( as much as I would like to ), so we just keep on praying and keeping that line of communication open. I remember my mom telling me that one of the most important things in raising children is having an open line of communication. She said you might not like all that you hear, however, if you can discuss it openly with your kids and listen to what they have to say without being too judgemental, you should not have to over worry!!! Keep in mind that teenagers will keep pushing limits. And if they are influenced by a peer to do things that they know you would not like they will lie!

The people that these kids will end up dating makes all the difference in the world as to how they will behave. Sometimes they fall for a person who will only land them in more trouble and other times they will date someone who is very respectful of the rules. We worry when we see a negative change in them however, constantly talking about this negative change and blaming it on the boyfriend/girlfriend, just draws them farther away from us. We need to concentrate on our children's behaviours without bringing up the person they are with and let them figure the rest out along the way. Its a hard thing to do but they have a mind of their own and blaming the person that they are "head over heals in love with" will close of those lines of communication for good. They will be unable to listen if you actually have something to say about this persons character because they will already feel that you are biases. My advice, do not let race, colour, religion, monetary status or our own children's behaviours be a negative topic. If we do then nothing but that will be on our children's minds when we have an important reason for not wanting them to date this person such as we can see that they are not a good person.

Raising a teenager is a lot more work then I had ever expected! And for all you out there with young kids I am sorry to tell you that when they grow into teens they need you even more. But they won't admit it and when they need you they will also be giving you attitude. This past year has been especially trying for us. Each morning I would wake up and give myself a pep talk, smile, speak kind words, don't let her mood dictate yours, stay CALM!

I agree, they need us every step of the way and even more so when they are teenagers. They only thing is that our role changes a bit from when they were younger. I wonder how my parents lives through three teenage girls. No wonder my father has only grey hair left on the top of his shinny head.

I don't know how my parents had the patience to do this??????

One of the things I find hard now is having the boyfriend over at the house all the time. He is a nice boy but still it is like having a guest over who never leaves! The other side of the coin is when she is over at his house then that means you have to stay up past your bed time waiting for her to get home! Or when they are out on a date I worry, are they OK, are they behaving (hello I remember being a teenager!!!!!), have they got lost, is my car OK.

Lets not forget that yes hello we were all teenagers once upon a time and we obviously all made it out of that stage unscathed. Yes, we did some not so smart things and yes we all had our hearts broken but we turned out to be responsible loving parents. This teenage stage will pass with our kids too and someday when they are in their fourties they will be worrying about their children and we will be reminding them of how they were in their teens and how they all turned out just fine.

It's me.............remember.....Lousie

Finally a topic I can relate to. Actually this is the first chance I have to read and write! Mind you, my kids are standing behind me because we are on our way out to a 9 oclock soccer game.

Dating..........Where do I begin, my daughter is currently dating. It's funny how things turn out because I forgot about this party we were suppose to go to, and then my van died, so I was ready to call it quits. We were lucky enough to get a ride from my cousin and off we went. This is where she has met her latest beau. This is very different for me because he is someone I don't know and he's a bit older than she is. He looks so much older, I mean he could pass for a much older teenager. They started talking that night and have been talking ever since.

I'm sorry I have to go soccer is waiting.......I will try very hard to update later..........My kids are screaming as we speak!!!!! and I can't figure out how to save and not post!!!!!!


  1. If you want a clear sail through the teen years. Bury them at 12 and dig them back up at 20. Other wise no escaping the waves.
    In my personal experience teens are great in fact super great. I see just the same if not more manners in teens then in any other age group. One great thing about teens is they seldom blab on about nothing, (to adults anyway).
    Lies, lets ask ourself why do we lie or if you are perfect why did you lie in the past. Think, this is a deep question. Now that we know why we lie, what can we do about resolving the situation in our teens life so that they have no reason to lie.
    Remember Barbara Coloroso's best advise. If it is not immoral, illegal or will hurt others or themself let them do it. Here is Mommie's advise, what ever they ask for say Yes. Start makeing this your first responce when they ask for anything. The only reason to say no is Barbara's advise. I dare you, I double dare.
    I will guarantee you life will become easyer and communications will open up even more.

    Yes, Yes, I hear you. You are saying "What does an old bag with know kids at home know about teens". Well let me give you my credencials and just see it they are better then yours. I raised teens in my home for 17 years. Now if that hasn't given me wisdom you all may as well shoot me. Just look how wonderful Carolin has turned out and all her siblings are almost as perfect as her. Looking back I must have done something right. I did not always say yes to her because I had no one to tell me this go advice. But by the 4th teen I had gathered wisdom. I guarantee by the time you are raising your 4th teen you will have as much wisdom as I have. And if you are thinking that was in the olden days, my last teen was only 5 years ago. Things have changed but not much.

    The term teens was cioned in the fourties befor that they where people just like us, imagine.

  2. Hi Mommie!

    You are right! My mom says the same. She keeps telling me to relax, that they are good kids. I know my kids are good. I just want to keep them that way. My cousin Chris also gave me good advice once. He said, "count to ten before you respond." It gives you that little bit of time for perspective. He has raised 3 boys to adulthood and they are great!

    I just hope and pray that I can put myself aside and concentrate on my sons and really listen to both what they say and especially what they do not say!

    Mommie, thanks again for good advice. Keep it comming!

  3. Um, were 17 when you came to your first my house! And you had some sort of reaction to alcohol, forcing me to call (and therefore meet for the very first time) you parents!!!! I was freaking out and your dad was so cool and welcomed me right into the family. And look at us 30 years (Oh my!!) later...still cool, and still friends. Ah, the memories...

  4. And what did I say about having great girlfriends!!! ( I was trying to forget that little episode :) )

    ..wait...didn't I meet some blond haired guy that was a friend of your data centre friends???

  5. Hey Louise, my sister was dating someone older than her when she was 14yrs old. Nice guy, but as a parent how do you deal with it? My parents never said no, as I said in the blog, I just had to go out with them. Fun!