When daughters reach their teens and sometimes earlier, boys begin to notice them with greater enthusiasm. This puts fear into the hearts of us fathers. We worry about them and also fear letting go. This is a double whammy.
When a daughter announces she has been asked out by a member of the opposite sex, we envision a smarmy grinning dude showing up at the door, preoccupied with some pretty basic intentions. So how does dad make the leap from protecting his little girl to releasing her into the hands of Conan the Barbarian?
It’s best to do this in stages. We dads know what teenage boys have on their maniacal minds. It’s the same thing we had on our maniacal minds when we were their age.
Making the connection
The connection with your daughter comes long before the first boy shows up at the door. It’s based on the time you’ve shared together, the activities you’ve engaged in, the standards you have taught and the model you’ve set. Not all boys are smarmy, pimple-faced sex fiends. Many are upstanding, pimple-faced young men who were raised properly and, in spite of hormones and natural drives, know how to behave. They respect themselves and their female counterparts. These are the boys you want dating your daughter.
Playing your role
You have a role in the dating theater, and it’s not showing off your muscles or sulking in your recliner. Here’s what you can do to make sure the dating express is not a runaway train.
Know who your daughter is going out with, where they are going and when they’ll be back. Give her some rules and make them clear. Make sure she knows how to maintain her safety. Be an anchor. Assure her that she can contact you for any reason in any circumstance. Talk to her about dating and about sex. If she is old enough to date, she is old enough to hear your thoughts. Help your daughter identify the best boys by focusing on character rather than simply on popularity or appearance.
Get mom involved. Mothers are more trusting. They don’t interrogate, ask embarrassing questions, frown or focus on threats as much.
First dates lead to the next date and then to a relationship. Keep the lines of communication open so you can talk about what qualities are important, as well as the benefits of maintaining other friendships and involvement in social activities.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at [email protected]