If you made it through middle school without having to deal with your daughter’s first boyfriend, consider yourself lucky. Once the hormones hit, life amongst the happy family changes drastically and the introduction of a boyfriend can be one of the most troubling, especially the first! Take a deep breath; realize that like potty training, this too is just a phase. Unfortunately, it probably won’t pass anytime soon.
The first advice for mom and dad is to keep your head. Young girls can get awful caught up in their first romance and having parents breathing down their neck and continuously forbidding the relationship or voicing their disappointment will only make her efforts to remain connected be more adamant. If you can accept the boyfriend, invite him to dinner and make her see that you won’t embarrass her silly, you will be setting yourself up for better teenage years that include honestly and forthrightness. If you react contrary to what makes her feel supported, chances are she will choose to hide things. Certainly, you don’t want all the gory details about the relationship, but keep your eyes and ears peeled for the important ones.
The time spent together can be disrupted. For her protection and sanity, demand that she continue to see her friends, engage in her normal extra curricular activities and have more on her plate than daydreams of a squeaky voiced boy. This way when he or she moves on, she won’t run into a wall of depression and pain. Perhaps the worst part of your daughter’s first boyfriend is that your daughter’s first heartbreak is right around the corner. This is one of the reasons it is so vital that you keep her busy whilst allowing time for the ‘intruder.’
Also, make the two of them feel welcome at your house. This means letting them watch TV together in the basement, having him for dinner and not minding if he comes home to do homework with her. Ultimately, you would rather depend on your watchful eye than have to trust that HIS parents are home. If they feel welcome and sense that they are getting an appropriate amount of privacy, they will not feel the urge to lie, sneak or hide things. Yes, it might be difficult to watch your favorite sitcom thinking that your little Sally might be learning how to french kiss in the basement, but at least you can walk down there at anytime and ruin it for them. And you should!
Speaking of French kissing, understand without a doubt that your children know much more about sex than you think they do. If you haven’t scanned their emails or tried to translate their text messages by now, you might want to take a look! Still, you should have the talk and have it often! In fact, bring it up every chance you get! This means asserting your position on abstinence and morality and allowing your daughter to know the difference between love and attraction and consenting and feeling pressured. Outline the fiascos that can occur by having sex and stress the importance of waiting. While telling her that there will be plenty of other boys in her life will make no impact at this point, rest assured she is listening. Dad has a voice in this too. He is the one that can remember being the teenage boy and any additives to the mix however unwelcome are necessary. Remember, she loved dad first! She needs to know how boys at this age think and she needs to be aware of the consequences to forgetting her judgment. If she is old enough to have a boyfriend, she is old enough to sit there red faced while you preach. Don’t forget to mention her reputation and all the other nasty little details that can pop up when a young girl trusts a young boy too much too fast! Be as honest as you can.
One aspect of your daughter’s first boyfriend you should consider is the money it can cost you if you aren’t clear right up front. Cell phones and text messages can really add up. SET BOUNDARIES! Additionally, set boundaries while in his presence. If he wants to play house then he can act like your son-in-law and get a first hand glimpse of what it is you expect and won’t tolerate. Talk to his parents as well and make sure they are aware of the relationship and the amount of time the two kids are spending chatting electronically. The last thing you want is his parents in a tizzy and freaking out on your daughter. Make a phone call to them and be direct about asking what they expect from the couple and what their ground rules are. This way the two of you can be together. You also might find that you don’t like his parents or feel that they are less interested in protecting your daughter than you would like! This is good information to have on hand.
The whole thing can be disturbing. It is a sure sign that your little angel is growing up. At the same time remember your first relationship and the excitement and dazzle that it stirred in you. Don’t squash her opportunity to feel the same exhilaration. Allow her to make decisions from time to time and ensure that your spot in her life is still safe by keeping your head as clear as possible. Teach her through this relationship that the role of women is not to be taken advantage of and help her gain her assertiveness and independence when it comes to men at an early age. This will serve her so well in life down the road. How well you handle the first boyfriend will play a large part in how included she allows you to be down the road. Even if you think he is a loser, try to be supportive as much as possible and keep a tight handle on the reins of her life. Your daughter’s first boyfriend will definitely not be the last, which means you might as well get used to the routine and find practical ways to stay connected and influential!