To Date or Not to Date … That is the Question
Take a close look at this torso. No. No. This is not the torso of some Harley Davidson road hog (although give it a few years….sigh.) This is not some code to conquer the latest video game. It isn’t even a cheat sheet for a multiple choice final. These are initials airbrush-tattooed to my 13 year olds core. Not just ANY initials mind you. These are the initials of the four girls he went with to the local amusement park; He, his friend, and the FOUR girls whose names match the letters on his sternum. My husband’s response? “Not bad odds Gan!” My response? Well I am not sure. At first, there was embarrassment. All I could think about was that the next day he was going to the beach with the WHOLE seventh grade class and ALL the teachers (with whom I used to teach) and that this tattooed advertisement for promiscuity (all right a little much..but it was how I felt at the time) would be on display for all to see. Once I got over that-(after a few eye rolls from my husband)-I vacillated between “well-he-is-a-growing-boy!” and “he’s-too-young-for-this-kind-of-thing.” But which is it?
It isn’t that I would rather have my boys be monks. On the contrary, I worry equally about my 16 year old for the exact opposite reasons that I worry about the 13 year old. Painfully shy, going into his junior year, he has yet to find the nerve to ask a girl out. It isn’t that he hasn’t found one in which he’s interested. There have been several, but when pressed by me to call or invite them somewhere (do teens even call each other anymore?) I get an emphatic “NO WAY,” or an equally emphatic “MOM LEAVE ME ALONE!” It’s moments like these where I wonder and wallow about the lack of self esteem my very handsome oldest son has. My extremely imaginative pessimistic mind is no help either as it pictures lonely college days and even lonelier nights as Aidan grows old a single man because he was never secure enough in what he had to offer to a girl he admired. (I think I just saw my husband roll his eyes again.) Well at least we know his little brother has enough confidence for both of them.
Girls, girls, girls. If you aren’t there yet moms and dads, you will be. I grapple with what is appropriate and at what age? The reel in my head sounds something like this, “If they start too early won’t they get, ehem, THERE faster?? But if they start too late, what does that say about their confidence? Don’t all teens need to experience young love, new love, broken-hearted love?” I am so unsure of the answers to these questions, and it seems that everyone else has an opinion. You already know my husband’s. Growing up as the tenth brother of ten brothers, he has seen it all, experienced it all and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. He is the biggest proponent of “boys will be boys.” A few friends of mine think that it is perfectly appropriate to discuss liking girls with their elementary-school-aged sons. A few others think you shouldn’t discuss girls at all. There are some scientific studies that claim if your son is between the ages of 10 and 12 that dating will cause them to perform poorly in school. Most experts found all over the internet think that 15 is an appropriate age to begin dating. But all are also quick to say that it really matters what the parent is comfortable with.
The problem is that THIS parent doesn’t KNOW what she’s comfortable with! Maybe a monastery is the answer. OOOO! Three eye rolls from the hubby for just one column. I think it’s a new record!)
What are your thoughts on this subject? When is it too early to date? When do you start worrying that your son isn’t dating? Let me know in the comments section below my bio! I’d love to hear your ideas!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed.