Parent Hacks: Your teen’s first date
Kids won’t wait until they’re 30, so here’s how to navigate the situation as a parent
Make sure there aren’t any date night surprises
Forget all of those jokes dads make about their daughters not being able to date until they’re 30. You don’t really want this to happen. Realistically, your kids are going to start dating at least 15 years before that. And how do you handle it, Dad and Mom?
Your kids will assume that back in the good ol’ days, when you dated, you sat around and looked at dirt for entertainment. They might not feel you can relate to their style of dating, so they won’t look to you for your always excellent advice.
One of the trickiest parts in managing that first date is actually knowing that it’s happening. Some teens have no problem discussing their personal lives with their parents, but if your teen is not comfortable, it can be easy to miss day-to-day details. Teens communicate mostly online, so you’re not likely to hear them on the phone (people still talk on phones?) arranging to meet up.
It’s important to get to know as many of your kid’s friends as possible. If your son or daughter starts to date, it isn’t long before you’ll catch one of your kid’s friends teasing them about it. That’s your cue to get “other kid” gossip — the best way to get intel on your own kid.
Before the date, talk to your child about what your expectations would be, including whether or not he or she will be posting it on social media. This is a very public way to start a relationship, and it might be prudent to caution your child about posting too many personal details and consequently being opened up to offensive or inappropriate comments. You could always threaten them that you’ll post “dating” pictures of Mom and Dad to match theirs.
If kids start to date before they can drive by themselves, you’ll likely be the one dropping them off at a movie or coffee shop. This is an easy way to manage location, timing and length of date, and a public location might be preferred by your child and by you.
It helps to go over a series of questions prior to the date. Who’s paying? Have they talked about it in advance? Does your child have enough money to cover his or her own expenses? Not knowing this beforehand can be awkward when your teen gets to the ticket counter.
Will there be other people on the date? Is it a group thing? Find out if your son or daughter has a close friend going, and get the friend’s contact info so you have a backup if your child is out past curfew. Oh, yes indeedy, curfew is still a “thing,” and you need to make sure your kid knows you will be expecting him or her to be home on time.
It’s important to not make too big a deal of the date — wedding jokes are not cool — but a debrief after the fact might keep the lines of communication open as and if the relationship progresses.
Kathy Buckworth is the author of I Am So the Boss of You: An 8-Step Guide to Giving Your Family the ‘Business.’