I have beautiful daughters. When they were babies they were beautiful, when they were toddlers they were cute and when they started to grow up , I knew we’d have a problem. The problem is this: Boys like pretty girls. I was not a pretty girl~ I was the awkward, looking for my own style(actually, I had no style and could have cared less) kind of girl that boys just want to be friends with. That’s okay, I was good with that. But now, I have 3 daughters. Two of them old enough for the boys to be pursuing. I need a bigger gun. I need more guns. I need something more intimidating than my disapproving mother look(which I use far too much for my own liking).
We have a rule in our house: no dating. Period. And I don’t have this rule because I’m mean or because all boys are bad(most of them have less than noble intentions). I have these rules because I dated a boy(I’m married to him now). When I dated him , we were both out of high school but we were still driven by a lot of hormonal desire. I had no idea how quickly a guy can go from being your friend to wanting to get your clothes off. And just so we get something straight here~ I was the “good girl”. There was no 3rd base or even 2nd base in our courtship. This is the reason for short engagements: you like him, he likes you~ you love him, he loves you~ you want to marry him, he asks…let’s go. That’s the way it was for us.
But back to my girls: No dating, we’ve made that abundantly clear. And I’ve explained it to my girls this way: If a boy wants to date you now, when you’re 13, 14, 15, what are his intentions? Does he want a companion? Does he want to show off a pretty girl on his arm in the school hallways? Does he want a girl wearing his football jacket at games? Does he want you to come for Sunday dinner to hang out with his parents? What does he want to date you for? Well, they can never answer that question. And the reason they can’t answer that is because the boys can’t answer it either!
This past weekend, my 13 year old told me about a boy at school who has been hounding her to “go out with him”. Hold the phones!!! She’s THIRTEEN!!! She hasn’t been on the planet long enough to listen to cassette tapes or know what a rotary phone is! She doesn’t remember Y2K or life before Hannah Montana. SHE IS A CHILD.(it’s okay, I’ve cleared this with her). And what’s worse, is the boy on the hunt is in Grade 10~ 2 years older. I realize for some of you reading this , this seems rather insignificant and probably innocent. Let me paint a picture for you:
A boy(he is not a man) over Facebook has asked now at least 3 times this question: “Will you go out with me?” What does that mean? Where I come from “going out” means we’re actually going somewhere. So, I pressed my daughter, “Where does he want to go out?” Her answer is typical:”Well, he doesn’t want to go anywhere. That just means he wants us to be a couple at school. Mom, no one goes out on dates anymore~ it’s just school-dating.”
Hmmm. School Dating. How lame. Sad, isn’t it? That these young people have taken a sacred institution like dating and reduced it to hallway hand-holding and after-school hook-ups. Ooops. Hook ups? What? Oh yes. Let’s get at the heart of this: These boys like a pretty girl on their arms. They like the status of being able to “get” a girl and be “in a relationship”. But most of them don’t know the first thing about relationships, commitment, sharing and caring, sacrifice or love. In fact, none of that is on their radar or agenda. The only thing they care about is having their raging-hormonal-needs satisfied. And most of them don’t really understand what that’s all about . All they know is that the guys in their class are “doing it” and obviously that’s just what you do. Right? I mean, if you have a NEED , you fill it. Right? Come on, get with the program.
I’ve been accused of many things. But the thing that really gets my goat is when other mothers call me unrealistic, naive and unfair when I ban my kids from dating. It has happened more times than I can even express. So many parents have just rolled over on this issue. They have traded the boundaries of appropriate teenage boy/girl contact for a whatever-may-come attitude. They have given into the puppy dog eyes that their daughters give them or they have never set a boundary in the first place. Most parents just think that dating is a part of growing up and so it is to be expected. But that is so wrong. Dating is serious business. Dating is the first step to marriage. It involves emotions and feelings of the heart. It grapples with mature situations like physical touch, sexual stimulation and broken hearts. No 13, 14 or 15 year old should be dealing with those issues. They’re still growing for goodness’ sake!! Many of them haven’t even gone through puberty. And now we have 11 and 12 year olds trying to wade these waters too.(My 11 year old has told me what’s going on in her class too).
I’ve seen the hurt and heartbreak. Our oldest daughter thought she could handle it. She didn’t tell us because she knew we’d disapprove. When she was barely 14 a boy asked her out. She said no. He did not relent. Even after she told him that we had rules in our house and why we had rules he continued. Within a couple of weeks he was hand-holding and kissing her in the hallways. Every girl loves the attention of boy and so she kept her secret. That is, until her mother walked into the school one day and saw. Let’s just say that an animal instinct came over me. In my coolest(not so cool), calmest(not very calm), quietest(not quiet at all) voice I approached them and told him to remove his greasy hand from my daughter. I also told him that if he ever touched her again, I would touch him. Oh yes I did. There were teachers and students who just stood and stared. There was no sound. I actually don’t remember much. I do know that I e-mailed the creep and told him to back off(because he needed more than one reminder) or I would have him looking for protective body-guards. Maybe I didn’t handle it well and certainly my daughter was mortified and embarrassed. The good that came out of this was:
- My daughter realized that all the times I told her I was everywhere and knew what was going on, became a bold new reality for her.
- She got a reputation in school for the girl who was untouchable(but it did take a few guys a little longer to learn)
- We, the parents, gained new respect with the teaching staff and other parents for doing what they knew they should do but didn’t know how
- She realized that he wasn’t all he said he was when he spread rumours, tormented her and ultimately took up with other girls telling them the same things he told her: “you’re the only one” “I love you” “I’ll wait for you”