In Which My Husband Greets My Daughter's Future Boyfriend at the Door with a Gun
I started dating early. I've been on birth control since I was a teenager. I've forgotten the names of half the people I've dated, but there were many, and it was lovely. I've never regretted my dating history. I have no real qualms about my daughter dating someday.
I'm a little worried about my husband.
Seriously, he's fine. But he's joked since our daughter's birth that he would turn Bruce Willis on any young man who pulled up to our home to squire our daughter about town in a windowless van with a mattress in the back. And I sort of believe him.
I grew up in a small town, and everyone's parents knew everyone else's parents, and I think because of that fact kids started dating younger. There was a sense of safety in letting little Rita go to the movies with So-and-So's son, goodness, we've known him since preschool. (That didn't mean So-and-So's son was any less horny than a stranger. He wasn't.) You see my point here. My parents weren't wrong to let me go out when I did, but I don't know how much control they really had over the situation. They couldn't lock me in my room, and kids can be creative when it comes to utilizing school activities for amorous purposes. *thinks of the pep bus and laughs*
I'm not shocked at Miley Cyrus. I'm not shocked that twelve-year-olds are experimenting with oral sex. When I was growing up, I had a few friends who experimented with it when they were nine or ten. Not everyone did, but I think some people hit adolescence earlier than others and start pressuring the rest of school to catch up, already. Such promiscuous children have always existed and always will.
I don't think group dates are safer than one-on-one dates. I don't think parties are safer than car dates. I don't think guilt or threats work when you're talking to horny teenagers. I think the only things that work in pregnancy, disease and heartbreak prevention are birth control pills combined with condoms and healthy self-esteem.
What age would I let my daughter start dating? I have no idea. I don't know how mature she'll be at 14 or 16. I don't know who she'll want to date, how mature he'll be. I don't know what options they might have for venues. I do know that as a woman, she'll have to take birth control into her own hands and not rely on a boy to think about pregnancy or disease prevention in the heat of the moment. She'll have to have the confidence to respect her body and make her own decisions about who gets to touch it and when. She'll have to bear the consequences of her decisions, good or bad. I'll equip her with as much sex education as I can, as well as a few carefully chosen tidbits of advice, but she's going to have to learn the heartbreak part on her own.
I don't think teen dating is often about real love, but puppy love can be pretty great. I'd love for her to experience it -- it's different than adult love, more dramarific, sweeter. However, teen dating is usually about sex, and that part I'd be happy for her to skip. As would my husband, whom did I mention? Will be on the front step. With a gun.