It’s the moment that every parent dreads. Your little girl has grown up and she’s found herself a boyfriend. You have every right to be terrified. All sorts of images spring to mind: pregnancy, STIs, mischief and missed classes. But remind yourself that these are worst-case scenarios. And you can minimize all the risks by accepting the situation, setting limits and constantly communicating.
Boyfriends come in all shapes and sizes, attitudes and idiosyncrasies. Some will plainly be unsuitable. Others may appear perfect. Most will fall somewhere in between. The key is to take a bit of time to get to know the new boyfriend before reaching any clear verdict. Your daughter won’t thank you for casting aspersions on his character, and a teenage rebellion is the last thing you need!
Don’t Jump to Judgments
OK, so the new man in your daughter’s life may very well be a troublemaker. But try not to assume the worst. Give him the benefit of the doubt and you’ll get more respect in return. Of course you should keep an eye on the young couple. Talk to your daughter and always try to be aware of her whereabouts. But don’t smother her or hound her, as there’s a strong likelihood you’ll drive her away.
Tolerance will give you a stronger chance of gauging the boyfriend’s true character. You don’t have to be his friend. You simply have to demonstrate your willingness to accept him. Naturally, that comes with conditions. If you get the sense over time that the young man is bad news or poses a risk to your daughter’s welfare, it’s probably time to sit down and talk to her. You have a duty as a parent to protect your offspring if necessary. But be tactful – and be sure of the facts!
Meet the Parents
Some parents will remain nervous about their daughter’s new beau, no matter how often they meet him. A sure-fire way to overcome those nerves is to get to know the people who brought him up. Don’t impose on them, but perhaps invite the boyfriend’s parents around for drinks or dinner as a friendly gesture. The chances are that they’ll be keen to meet you too.
Be sure not to limit the conversation to your children’s romance. It’s important that you appear genuinely interested in getting to know about the parents too. If you’ve got doubts or suspicions about their son, you can bet they’ve had the same thoughts about your daughter. But dwelling on these is not the best way to build trust. Relax – and maintain your sense of humor.
Learn from your Mistakes
Your daughter’s first love is highly unlikely to be her last. She will come to terms with what went right and what went wrong, and you should do the same. Keep communication lines open. Remember that this is a time of great change for your daughter and you should be empathetic to her hormone-driven emotional extremes.
Naturally, girls are reticent to talk to their parents about boy issues. But having been a teenager yourself, you should be attuned to the signs of tension or trouble. Like your daughter, you won’t always handle things right first time. But don’t let the same drama happen twice. Sometimes a little conversation is critical.
Find the Balance between Control and Controlling
Your daughter’s safety and happiness are paramount. So, when a boyfriend appears on the scene, you need to be ready to act – but should never overreact. Lay down some ground rules and don’t allow the young couple to run rings around you. But give them some space or they’ll give you more space than you’re comfortable with.