The Nuts and Bolts of Dating

Is your teenage daughter ready to start dating? If you've already tackled the larger issues of life and love with your daughter, take some time to discuss the nuts and bolts of Dating 101. This is your opportunity to tell her all the stuff you wish you'd known way back when.

When you talk about dating, don't forget to discuss the following:

Making the moves. Does your daughter have her eye on a boy she is dying to date? Explore your feelings about girls making the first moves. What is her opinion? One philosophy: Flirting behavior is fine (bright smiles, an accidental brushing in the halls). But if he doesn't get the hint, she shouldn't ask him out for Saturday night. Rather, teach her the art of subtlety. Perhaps there is a subject the boy excels at. She could suggest buying him a soda after school so she could ask him some questions about biology, geometry or some such topic. Or she can have a party (okay with you, Mom?) and invite him. Or suggest a group outing to go hiking, to a ball game, etc. It's advisable to spend time with the boy in a group dynamic really getting to know him before becoming a couple anyway.

Age-appropriate actions. Set some boundaries and suggestions for your daughter. For instance, no one-on-one dates with a boy until she turns 16. Give her a reasonable curfew for weeknights and weekends. What activities seem acceptable at her age? Movies, pizza, bowling, picnicking, swimming -- these are acceptable activities for a young woman to do on a date. An overnight camping trip with the gang -- that's not going to fly with most moms, nor should it. Again, let your daughter have her say and respect her opinions. Then go into the reasons for your beliefs and philosophies.


Boy vs. girl stuff. These are the nitty-gritty details. On the actual date, whose responsibility is it to pick the other party up, to arrange the day or evening's itinerary, to pay, to initiate the kiss goodnight? It is not retro or non-feminist for a girl to be wanted to treated with courtesy and respect. The boy and girl should both have a hand in planning what they'll do on the date. Ideally, he'll "pick her up" -- especially if the girl's parents want to meet him. Who should pay? If he asked her out, he could pay, at least the first few times they go out ... or they should go dutch. After all, teenagers are usually broke, or they're spending their parents' money to go out. If they start going steady, it might work out best if they divvy up the date costs. After all, they're too young to fight about finances. As for the first kiss ... well, if she likes him and by the second date he's not heading in for a lip lock, she can tilt her face upward to him and put her mouth near his. If he "takes the bait," great. If he doesn't, well, at least he'll know she's interested.

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