Life was easier when your daughter was a wee baby rather than a budding babe. Back then all you had to worry about was whether you'd ever get any sleep and whether she'd finally learn to stop yanking the dog's tail. Now she's got a boyfriend and you've started longing for the days of smelly diapers. Help is at hand. Here are the best techniques to help you judge whether your precious child's boyfriend is worthy of her.
• Talk to Her -- but not accusingly. You don't want her to feel like Juliet to his Romeo. Don't act as if you are suspicious of her boyfriend. Do reminisce about when you were dating and the things you liked and didn't like about how boys treated you (calling when they said they would; escorting you to your door after a date). The idea is to invite confidences, not sow suspicions about your motives. It's perfectly natural at this juncture to reiterate (as if she doesn't already know) that you're always available for advice and support.
• Remember, Mom: You have the right to monitor your daughter's whereabouts as well as to steer her toward not getting too seriously involved with one boy at too young an age. Just exhibit a light touch in your supervisory duties rather than coming off as La Commandante.
• Observe Her. Is she her usual bubbly self or acting unhappy, secretive, hostile? Is she acting obsessed with him or going on with her usual array of activities? Is she dressing differently (sexier)? If there is any suspicious behavior on her part, don't come off like the heavy. Say, "Honey, you seem a little different than usual. If anything's wrong, I'd love to know what it is. Maybe I can help."
• Talk to Him. Encourage your daughter to bring him over for dinner, pool parties and so on. The object isn't to grill him like a mackerel. But you do want to find out his values, goals, family life, habits and hobbies. For example, "So, my daughter tells me you work part time at Dunkin' Donuts and play on the soccer team. You certainly keep yourself busy. I really admire that."
• Observe Him. Okay, Jane Bond, exercise your powers of observation. How does he treat her: with respect and affection or callous self-absorption? How does he treat you? Is he polite and sweet, or arrogant? Does he seem alert and intelligent or dull, perhaps drugged?