Tell if Your Daughter Has a Boyfriend
Edited by Kathy McGraw
You dread the coming day when your daughter will come home and tell you that she has a boyfriend, and you may be surprised that it has happened so soon. You thought you had a few years left; after all, it seems like just yesterday that your daughter was building tent-forts in the living room and having tea parties with her collection of stuffed animals. But, the fact is, teens are dating younger and younger. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, girls start dating at about 12 years of age, on average and boys start a year later at age 13.
However, don't have a heart attack just yet. When a 12 year old speaks of dating, she is likely referring to sitting together with a boy over lunch at the cafeteria, or playing together on the playground with other friends. This type of innocent interaction is harmless and you need not interfere. But what about traditional dating? Well, that happens later on, as we will see.
15 Signs Your Daughter Might Have a Boyfriend
Do you suspect your little girl is interested in a boy but hasn't told you about him? Here are some telltale signs she's got a boyfriend:
- 1Whenever she takes a call on her phone, she runs giggling into her room. It isn't the usual girlish laughter you hear when she is talking to her friends, it's different, somehow, and as soon as she picks up her phone, she wants privacy.Advertisement
- 2She is even more obsessed with her appearance. Teenage girls are notorious for caring too much about how they look, but your girl has taken it to another level. Now, instead of taking an hour to get ready for school in the morning, she needs two.Advertisement
- 3She seems to be in her own world. You remember those days, right? When you were over the moon for someone at school and for weeks all you could do was walk around in a lovestruck daze. You see that same look in your daughter's eyes now.
- 4She's happier. The world is full of sunshine and flowers for her these days. She skips around the house singing to herself and there's a smile on her face more often than not.
- 5She goes out more. It seems that she has someplace to be every weekend. She says she is spending time with her girlfriends, but you suspect she isn't being completely truthful with you because she's so vague on the details.
- 6She blushes when you ask her where she is going. Her cheeks pinken and she won't meet your eyes when you question her about where she is off to.
- 7She absentmindedly doodles hearts and flowers on everything. There might even be a heart with a boy's name on it or a boy's name written out at least a dozen times.
- 8She's spending more time in her room. You don't see her much. When she is home, she is usually in her room talking on the phone or chatting on the computer with someone.
- 9She changes her wardrobe. She asks you for money for new clothing even though she only recently bought a new set, and the new tops fit tighter and the skirts are shorter.
- 10She and her friends seem to be doing more whispering and giggling lately. While teenage girls are normally giggly with each other and don't want their parents to know everything they discuss, when boys are involved, the whispers and giggles go off the scale.
- 11She starts dotting her I's with hearts. She's got love on the brain and it shows in her penmanship.
- 12She changes her hairstyle. She changes how she does her hair, trying out new styles that she hasn't done before. Some of them may look truly atrocious, but you shouldn't tell her that.
- 13She's more secretive. Yes, teenagers aren't the most open bunch, especially to their parents, but now, she guards her diary zealously every phone call has to be taken in total privacy.
- 14She asks you when you had your first boyfriend/girlfriend. She's feeling you out, testing to see how you react to the question. Don't blow it: be honest with her and use this opportunity to invite her to confide in you.
- 15She's more emotional than usual. Emotions are running high with your daughter, and they come spilling out at odd times. Like crying over her plate of spaghetti at dinner. Or sniffling while she's folding the laundry.
Is She Too Young to Date?
The question of when it is appropriate for a teenager to start dating is a thorny one, and unfortunately, there is no easy answer. It depends on the emotional maturity of the individual girl and the type of dating she'll be doing.
- 1Group dating. Teens between the ages of 12 to 16 can enjoy "group dates" during which a group of kids hang out somewhere together. The emphasis of group dates is on interacting as a group rather than on interacting with the one person. It takes the pressure off the youngsters and lets them have fun together in a safe and relaxed environment.Advertisement
- 2Supervised dating. Another option for younger teens is to allow supervised dating where the teens can spend time together, but there has to be an adult in the room at all times.
- 3Online dating. From Facebook to Instagram, some teens are confining their dating to online relationships; however, this should be discouraged since it promises the same heartache of an in-person relationship without the benefit of a face-to-face connection. It also places teens in greater danger of being preyed upon by unscrupulous sorts.
- 4One-on-one dating. Most parents think that 16 is an appropriate age to let a daughter date a boy one-on-one, but a girl may be mature enough to handle the pressures and challenges at age 15. It really just depends on your daughter. If you think she is mature enough to handle it, then she probably is, regardless of her chronological age.
Encouraging Your Daughter to Confide in You
Teenagers are generally a secretive lot, especially about things they believe that their parents wouldn't understand or condone. They are trying to find their own identity and pushing at boundaries as they form their adult personalities and discover how to relate to their peers and others.
- 1Find out what dating means to her. "Dating" means different things to tweens and teens at different ages, and it's NOT what you remember from when you were growing up, so throw all your assumptions out of the window. For younger teens and tweens, dating means communicating through groups of friends while starting at age 13 or so, they mean hanging out in groups with friends of the opposite sex. The type of dating that you think about starts to occur in high school. Encourage her to talk about what dating would mean to her.
Setting Rules and Boundaries
Whether your daughter is twelve or seventeen, it is important to set out rules for her to follow while she is making her first forays into the world of dating and some boundaries, but try not to be too restrictive, as this can backfire on you.
- 1Set a reasonable curfew. While you might be tempted to set a curfew as early as you can get away with, don't do it. Your daughter will be more likely to obey a curfew that's reasonable than one that isn't.
- 2Set concrete rules for how you expect her to behave. However, try to let her know that while you won't be happy if she breaks the rules, that you will still love her and be there for her, no matter what. Talk to her about birth control, even if you don't want her having sex because it's better for her to be protected than not.
- 3Set limits on how long she can spend on the phone or texting him. Set reasonable limits to the amount of time she spends on her phone, whether it's talking or the ubiquitous teen fallback, texting, but make it reasonable, something like one to two hours per day.
- 4Warn her that if her grades drop, she will have to stop seeing this boy.
The Bottom Line
Every parent dreads the day when their little girl starts dating, because that means that she is growing up. But as said as it is, it is also a thrilling time as well; it's the chance to see the child you raised spread her wings and reach for independence. The best thing that you can do for your daughter as she continues to mature into the confident young woman you hope she will become is to offer guidance without interference unless the situation calls for it. Be there to support her when she falls, but allow her to make her own mistakes (within reason and as age-appropriate, of course). Learning from our mistakes is how we grow.