Teens and Dating
Alternate titles I considered for this post: Why I Still Practice My Lamaze Breathing. Why I Often Need A Stiff Drink. Why I Sit on My Front Porch Fondling My Shotgun. Why you Should Lock Up Your Toddlers Now.
When my kids were younger and the subject of them dating would come up I would say that I wasn’t going to allow dating until they were married. I was only somewhat joking.
My only experiences thus far in the teenage world of dating has been as the mother of boys. My daughter, at age seven, is still far too young. THANK GOD. And my hope is that having six brothers takes the mystery out of boys and that she won’t want to date, knowing that they are gross, farting, burping, smelly creatures. Either that or her brothers will scare off any boy that dares to come near her. What? If that is wrong I don’t want to be right.
Typically we think of boys as being the aggressors in dating situations. They are the ones pressuring the girls to go further. Remember the tv show The Facts of Life when Blair was in the back of a van with a boy who was trying to force himself onto her, that was the message I grew up with. I had watched that show, all the while cringing with embarrassment, with my mother, who told me that was the reason you always made sure you had a dime with you. So you could use a pay phone to call for a ride and a get away from the boy.
Times have changed.
And not just because our children have no idea what a pay phone is. More and more as I witness the teen boy-girl relationships I am surprised at how aggressive the girls seem to have become, compared to what I remember when I was a teenager. One son was dating a girl for a short time who said that for Christmas she didn’t want a present. Nope all she wanted was him. Yes, that means what you think it can not possibly mean. After I recovered from my shock and fantasies of driving over to her house and breaking both of her legs in the hopes that she’d be encased in a full body cast and therefore desiring a more appropriate present, my son revealed that he just wasn’t interested in doing that with her. Yet. I’ll admit the word yet made me die a little inside.
They broke up soon after. Upon hearing the news I think I managed not to do a fist pump in the air until I was in the next room alone.
In talking with my friends who are also mothers of teenage boys, this is not uncommon. Every single one of them has stories of girls being the pushy and demanding ones, not just in a sexual way, but in a controlling, bordering on stalking way. One mother told me of the explicit text messages her son was receiving from a girl at all hours of the night. Admittedly I am not friends with anyone who has teenage girls, for all I know they see boys behaving in the exact same manner. I don’t think it is acceptable behavior for either sex.
My 13 year old son had a girlfriend for a few months, let’s call her Glenn. Not because that is her name but because she morphed into the character Glenn Close played in Fatal Attraction. I use the term girlfriend loosely because really they did very little together outside of school. I liked her a lot, at first. She was smart and I would overhear my son talking to her on the phone every day and he was happy. But I began to notice a change.
What is the line when a parent should intervene? At first the constant phone calls seemed harmless. Along the lines of, “Oh that’s so cute how smitten she is!” Then they reached the place of being intrusive. Glenn would yell at my other kids if they answered the phone and didn’t immediately disclose his whereabouts.
I noticed that my son was apologizing on the phone a lot. I asked him about this and he said that Glenn was always mad at him and he had no idea why.
She would call my cellphone looking for him, even though she had been told repeatedly not to call my phone. She would call my other sons. One of my sons was forced to turn his phone off after she called 12 times in less than an hour. We began joking that we needed to hide the bunnies!
I worried about it and wondered what I should say to him. I didn’t want to forbid the relationship thereby making it seem even more enticing. But I also didn’t want to let it slip by, for my son to think that this is what relationships are like. In this area I suppose it helped that his siblings kept telling him that his girlfriend was mean and sort of scary; at least I wasn’t the only one.
The final straw came when I picked him up from school one day and saw Glenn scowling standing with her back deliberately turned to my son. He said goodbye and she didn’t even acknowledge him.
What was that about?
Oh, nothing she’s just mad at me. Again.
Why? Did you have a disagreement about something?
No. I was supposed to meet her afterschool by the back door, but I was late.
I had to talk to one of my teachers. I was only five minutes late. Now she won’t even talk to me.
What do you think?
I don’t know. I can’t do anything right.
My 9 year old pipes up from the back of the van,
Man, you have to dump. that. girl.
My teenager sighed and looked out the window.
We hadn’t even pulled out of the school driveway when my phone rang. It was Glenn.
She screamed at me to put him on the phone. I would not tolerate my own children talking to me in such a disrespectful manner and I certainly would not take it from one of their friends. I told her as much and hung up. Then I ignored the next 8 calls from her as we drove the 2 miles home.
I was going to have to call Glenn’s mother. This was beyond the boundary of normal behavior. It was over the top crazy.
My son called her when we got home and “broke up” with her. He basically told her that she was not nice and he didn’t really like her anymore. Glenn didn’t take it well.
I have been closely monitoring to see if Glenn continues her controlling and mean ways. So far my son says she isn’t bothering him and the phone records support this. I haven’t called her mother, but wonder if I still should. I would want to know if my child was behaving that way. At least I think I would.
What do you think about teen dating? Has it really changed in the past couple of decades? Or is it just my vantage point that has changed? If I had teenage daughters would I be seeing it from a completely different perspective?