"Is my teen daughter ready for a boyfriend" is an inevitable question that parents of girls will have to ponder. How do you know when your teen daughter is actually ready to handle the joys and consequences that come with dating? Readers were asked for their thoughts and personal experiences on the right age, signs a girl is ready, and dealing with first dates. Here's what some of them had to say.
Jolynne Hudnell, 43-year-old mother of twin girls (age 16) responded with these words:
"I don't know if I'm old fashioned or not, but my girls weren't allowed to go on dates alone until they turned 16. Prior to that, they could go if a parent would be present (I would also need to know the parent's name and cell phone number if they had one). They were always expected to answer my text to check on them, or to text me at certain intervals. They also had to be home at a certain time. If the rules were broken, they would not be allowed to go "on a date" again until they started keeping in contact with me again when going out with a group of friends and such.
Since they kept to the rules prior to turning 16, they now can go out on dates without a parent present. But they still have to keep in contact at certain intervals and answer me when I text. They also have to be home on an agreed upon time.
As for old enough to have a boyfriend, a girl is going to have a boyfriend when she wants, even if she just sees him at school. If she is still attending classes and keeping her grades up, I don't really have a problem with it. If she skips class to see the boy, then we have an issue, and may have to notify the school to be sure she attends classes. So far, both girls have been very responsible about following the rules."
Randy Barefoot, successful father of 2 almost independent women answered:
"My 26 year old, married daughter says, "No teenage girl should have a boyfriend." This revelation is astounding because I told her this when she was 15, but she didn't believe me. For the 1st date, the boy should come to the girl's house where he must meet the parents. His arrival should be timed to interrupt Dad cleaning his shotgun.
Seriously, a girls maturity level where boys are concerned can be measured by her motives. If she wants to date because her friends have boyfriends other frivolous reasons, she has no business dating. When her motive is because she has an honest affection for the boy, she's ready to date.
First dates are preferably group activities. My first date with my future wife was when I was 14 and she 15. It was a triple date with my parents, my sister and her fiance. My parents said I could invite a friend. It surprise them when I asked Sharron.
So the short answer is, examine the girl's motives. Open, honest conversations between parent(s) and teen are the key. Just another good reason for real family dinners where people talk instead of watch TV. "
Khara House, who is a teen mentor, had this sage advice:
"I've told more than one teen-aged girl that she wasn't mature enough for a boyfriend. In fact, I've told more than one twenty-something female that she wasn't mature enough for a boyfriend! Being ready for a relationship isn't, after all, about age as much as it is about knowing who you are and what you want, and having the degree of maturity and understanding necessary to pair that with what another person needs and wants.
One question I asked a girl I was mentoring once was, 'If he asked you right now to do something you'd usually never agree to, would you do it?' If the answer is anywhere from 'yes' to the awkward pause before 'no,' I say she isn't ready. For some girls I'd say it comes down to what the girl wants out of the relationship. Why is she so interested in dating this guy? If she doesn't know, or the reason is based on anything other than the foundational things in a relationship-- i.e., saying 'Because he's so hot!' doesn't cut it-- then she might not be ready!
As for the other thing, about getting through first dates ... I suppose 'roll with the punches' isn't particularly sound advice?"
Another successful mother, Lynda Altman gives these suggestions:
"As a parent you have to ask yourself some very hard questions such as does she have accurate information about her body and sexuality? Does she understand the consequences of premarital sex? Does she understand and know how to protect herself from STDs. Has she taken a self defense course so that when she says NO it means NO. This may seem a lot to ask before something as benign as a fist date, but they may come up.
Archaic as it sounds, as parents do you plan to chaperone the first date? Or is it going to be an outing with a group of friends?
A teenage girl is ready to date when she every little thing is not a crisis. When grades are good and behaviors are in control. If she is still going through the 'I hate you' stage, and everything is about rebellion, then she needs more time before she is ready to enter into a potential relationship."
*I originaly published this via Yahoo Contributor Network