Dating can damage teen’s self-esteem

Our 14-year-old daughter is asking us about dating, and my husband and I have told her she’ll have to wait until she’s 16 for maturity reasons.

Question: Our 14-year-old daughter is asking us about dating, and my husband and I have told her she’ll have to wait until she’s 16 for maturity reasons.

But this doesn’t seem to satisfy her questions. Can you help? We want her to know this is about love, not control, and that we want to help protect her from sexual temptation.

Juli: Dating is one of those parenting issues that every family seems to approach differently. First, how do you define “dating”? Does it mean an exclusive relationship with a boy? Going out for actual dates?

There’s a big difference between two kids who have a crush on each other and an exclusive relationship involving emotional and physical intimacy.

I’d approach this situation by normalizing your daughter’s desire to “date.”

A lot of her friends are probably “dating,” and having a boyfriend may be a big aspect of popularity.

It’s great to get to know the opposite gender and it’s OK to like someone.

However, explain to her that a lot of the things people do in dating relationships are harmful — such as frequent breakups, sexting, or sharing too much emotionally or physically.

In addition to putting kids at risk for early sexual activity, dating in the young teen years interferes with the many healthy activities kids this age need to be doing.

In fact, many kids start dating young just because they’re bored.

Keep your daughter busy discovering activities that match her interests, like sports, volunteering or babysitting.

Encourage her to develop healthy friendships with many peers — guys and gals — rather than focusing her attention on one individual.

Your daughter may still not be satisfied with that approach, and that’s OK. Most 14-year-olds think their parents are out of touch or too strict.

We thought that about our parents, too. But in hindsight, she’ll be grateful for your protection during these early teen years.

Question: Do you have a list of questions a father should be asking his daughter’s potential boyfriend?

Jim: I had a friend, retired from the military, who would make sure that his shotgun was prominently displayed nearby whenever a suitor came calling on his daughter.

While she was getting ready, he’d sit each guy down on the couch and say something along the lines of, “My daughter is more important to me than anything. I’d go to jail for her.

I expect you to treat her with the utmost respect, or you will answer to me.”

One guy jumped off the couch and said, “I’m sorry, sir, but I don’t want to run the risk of letting you down!” and headed out the front door.

I’m not suggesting you take this approach!

But you could use more subtle means to convey the same message: that while your daughter still lives under your roof, she is primarily your responsibility and you expect her to be treated with the utmost care and respect.

As for other questions, the tried-and-true “What are your intentions with my daughter?” is a good measuring stick.

Try to find out what his interests are, how he’s doing in school, and what his own family is like.

His answers to these questions can reveal much about how he feels about your daughter (and women in general), the degree to which he respects authority, and his own value system.

Realistically, a first-time interview is not the most effective means of evaluating a young man’s character.

If he continues to pursue your daughter, invite him to spend more time with your family. That will better enable you to evaluate whether or not he’s a worthy suitor.

Submit your questions to: ask@FocusOnTheFamily.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Energy Minister Sonya Savage speaks during an event to mark the start of right-of-way construction for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, in Acheson, Alta., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. A committee that is supposed to consult Albertans on coal development in the Rocky Mountains won't be able to ask questions about water or land use. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Alberta coal consultation terms of reference rule out land use, water concerns

Brittany Lausen, RDC Students’ Association president. (Advocate file photo).
RDC Students’ Association takes aim at ‘period poverty’ in Red Deer

Vulnerable clients of several non-profits can access free hygiene products

A voter is shown at a Whitehorse polling station during the Yukon election on Monday April 12, 2021. An official count has confirmed a tie in the Yukon election, pushing the process to the next step of a judicial recount. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Kelly
Official count confirms tie in Yukon election, application filed for judicial recount

WHITEHORSE — An official count has confirmed a tie in the Yukon… Continue reading

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard the HMCS Moncton for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton)
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Britain’s Prince Charles, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits the gardens of Marlborough House, London, Thursday April 15, 2021, to look at the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Prince Philip. (Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via AP)
Princes William, Harry won’t walk side-by-side at funeral

LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry won’t walk side-by-side Saturday as… Continue reading

Tilray products such as capsules, oils, and dried marijuana are displayed at their head office in Nanaimo, B.C., on November 29, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Vote by Tilray shareholders on Aphria merger deal delayed until April 30

NANAIMO, B.C. — A vote by Tilray Inc. shareholders on the cannabis… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adjusts his mask as Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson answers a reporter's question during an announcement on the government's updated climate change plan in the Dominion Arboretum in Ottawa on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Wilkinson urges opposition leaders to stop stalling net-zero carbon emissions bill

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson is urging opposition leaders to end… Continue reading

Gwynne Dyer
Opinion: Biden’s words have no meaning

“If they go, we’ll all have to go. That’s the reality of… Continue reading

opinion
Shadow pandemic: Domestic violence has risen worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic has left a devastating mark on communities across the… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: MLAs expected to toe the party line

I am writing this letter to express my disappointment with my MLA… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green, top centre, prepares to begin practice during the NHL hockey team's training camp in Vancouver, on Friday, January 8, 2021. Media have been barred from the Vancouver Canucks first practice since a COVID-19 outbreak swept through the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks’ next game postponed, delaying return from COVID-19 outbreak

Vancouver Canucks’ next game postponed, delaying return from COVID-19 outbreak

Winnipeg Jets' Nikolaj Ehlers (27) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with teammate Mathieu Perreault (85) as Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) skates past during first-period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, April 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ehlers scores two as Jets chase Campbell early, down Maple Leafs

Ehlers scores two as Jets chase Campbell early, down Maple Leafs

Most Read