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(Part II begins here)

Before I get started and offer some teenaged dating rules for girls, I want to say a couple things.

One, my intent is not to debate. I’ve been asked about this topic many times, when I talk to mom’s groups, in casual conversations, and in emails. So… I am going to answer what I have been asked. That’s the motivation of this post- to answer the people who have asked me the question of what we do.

I am sharing here what is now morphing into our own family’s dating rules for girls, either formally or informally. But I’m not posting this to argue or try to prove that I am right and that there’s only one way to do this. This is what WE are currently choosing to do in OUR home with OUR reasoning behind it. These are the beliefs WE cherish. You may choose differently. 

If you don’t like these rules, or if you vehemently disagree with them, or if you think they are stupid, or if you would just choose something different so be it, that’s FINE! Feel free to mosey on to the next blog on your list without further adieu… if you  comment please respect our choices and if you disagree, please do so courteously. 

Mean comments, remarks that we are ‘sooo behind the times’ are boring and will likely be deleted. If you have something sincere to say, by all means say it, or email me, but I will not tolerate ridicule, which is what I got from a number of my college alma mater “connections” last time I posted for young men “Mom’s Rules for Getting the Girl”. The comments mostly came from a LinkedIn group that went ballistic, but there were some on this blog too and I deleted the rudest ones. Interestingly, the negative mail I got about this topic was primarily from the very group of women who prided themselves, at least in college, in being open minded. Ironic, isn’t it? But I digress…

Anyway…     We have six daughters, currently three teenagers, one in her early twenties and the others are 11 and 8. They are intelligent, talented and beautiful girls, as I’m sure yours are as well. Our girls’ dad and I believe in fiercely protecting the treasures our daughters are while they are minors, and helping them make good choices, protect themselves and choose wisely as they mature and become adults. We see their vocation choices as uniquely theirs- and encourage them to explore all vocations- the married life, the single life and the consecrated religious life. No matter their ages, their father will always look over them with a protective eye. That’s just what good fathers do.

I’m not claiming these are the secrets of the century. But I do think we are onto something. And it works for us.

Two, these rules are morphing and being refined. They are by no means perfect because of course we as parents are not perfect. Who knows? They might look different in a few years. But for now, here we go-

Mom’s Dating Rules for Girls

 1. No alone, one-on-one steady dating before age 18.

What?! Are you serious? you may be thinking. In this day and age? Yes, I am quite serious, and it’s working out great! To the best of my knowledge, nobody feels deprived with this rule. In fact, to the contrary. I think the girls feel very happy where they are socially.

The purpose of dating is ultimately to find a spouse. Therefore, one-on-one casual dating before age 18 is pointless.  Most likely early one-on-one dating will lead to heartache. Let’s face it- there are only two options to romantic boy/girl relationships- one- they will end up in marriage. two- they will end up in break up. The former is far less likely to happen than the latter, especially the younger the people are who are involved. For that reason, later dating is just a better statistical odd for healthy emotional development. You stack the odds in favor of your child when you postpone their one-on-one dating until they are older, when they have more mature social and coping skills, have a stronger sense of self, have been exposed to more situations, and because of this presumably have better manners and skill. In other words, they’ll be better able to handle it.

This is not to say that boy/girl relationships are totally off limits before age 18. Not at all!!  Girls can meet en masse with young men at Steak and Shake, Burger King or the local pizza place, at the homes of (carefully chosen) friends for get-togethers , with parents present…whom the girls’ parents know…and who share similar values. The girls can attend football games, bonfires, skating parties with boys, and a few astute, warm and friendly chaperone parents. Girls and boys of teenaged age can do service work, meet in study groups, work together in clubs of mutual interest. In other words, they can live life in a natural way with one another.

steak and shake photo

Our girls dance in a preprofessional dance company, and some of their ‘best buddies’ are the young men with whom they are partnered and dance. They attend supervised dances, skating parties and the like. These social situations are healthy and normal, and encourage girls to see young men as people and friends first, not just as romantic interests. Taking dating off the table until they are older frees up the girls to be themselves in these new situations, instead of worrying if he will ‘ask me out’ or want to ‘go steady’, or ‘go out’, or whatever the current exclusive terminology is.

ballet grace partnering

dating skating

dance

group datingcaroline ben croppedFriendships with the opposite sex should first be cultivated in a group. Back up. They should first be cultivated in the family.  Little girls’ first experience with a member of the opposite sex is her relationship with her father. If her father is loving and protective, and pays appropriate attention to her by cheering her on in her accomplishments, whether those accomplishments are in soccer or dance or something else….and compliments her on her femininity,  telling her she looks pretty in a dress when she does  or that he notices and likes her new haircut, he is encouraging her to take care of herself and value herself. When a girl values herself by being valued first by her father (both for who she is, and for what she accomplishes), this sets a lifelong trend of a girl having self respect. It lays the groundwork for healthy sense of self as well as healthy relationships with others, including males, for a girl’s entire lifetime.

daddy daughter

Daddy Daughter Dance
A little girl’s first significant male relationship is with her father

What’s more, and along the same lines, a girl’s positive relationship with her brothers also helps her develop healthy personal and social relationships with males, which helps later on in her life. The skills she uses when communicating with her brothers are the same skills she will later use to communicate with other guys.  When parents encourage sibling bonding and teach their sons to protect their sisters, they are setting the groundwork for a happy later life for them both.

siblings on patio

Sibling bonding helps teens learn to relate

siblings mike and girls

In short, girls learn about man/woman relationships first by seeing the husband/wife  mother/father relationship modeled in their home by their parents, and then by experiencing their relationship with their siblings (if they have them). Last, they learn from chaperoned and parent controlled exposure in various social, academic and athletic settings. By interacting with members of the opposite sex in casual and natural circumstances, girls learn about themselves and about the boys.  Young teen one-on- one dating is discouraged because two teens of the opposite sex being alone with one another for any period of time can be a huge temptation, even with the best of intentions. That’s just nature, and the fact that the temptation is larger because of the way society accepts and even promotes promiscuity.

Before I have a wave of feminists lambasting me for this idea they’ll surely label as 1950s drivel,  I would like to cut this criticism off at the pass and state that values are never decade driven or outdated. Principles hold true even where fads and fashions fade. An evolution of culture may include outward appearances that differ from generations before (clothes, trends, even ideas), but objective truth and the needs of the human soul remain constant- they always were, they are and they will remain the same in the future. I firmly believe it is in a girl’s best interest to delay dating until she is mature enough to handle the responsibility and to begin the process of exploring the possibility of a married vocation and seeking a spouse. And it is up to parents to protect their daughters.

FOOD FOR THOUGHTEarly, frequent, and steady dating is one of the single biggest risk factors for teenage sexual activity**

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: “….prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning, making judgments, controlling impulses, and foreseeing consequences, is still quite immature during adolescence….[it] is the neurobiological explanation for why adolescents exhibit poor judgment.” 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Girls with high self esteem are less likely to be sexually active as teens.

**I am not endorsing these sites in their entirety, just providing reference for the factual claims made.

 COMING UP NEXT TIME:  

2. If a young man is interested in getting to know you, he should be willing to hang around your family.

3. If he wants to take you to the prom or another school sponsored dance, you go in a group and he asks your (gasp!) dad’s permission

PART II BEGINS HERE