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June 2009 Blogs
Are You ALLOWED to have a BOYFRIEND?
BOYS, June 2009, by Jenifer Merifield
Are You ALLOWED
to have a BOYFRIEND?
My mom won't let me date until I'm 16. Most of my friends already do and they're 14. How do I tell her I'm ready to date?
~ Emily, 14, Victoria, BC
It's funny, I was just thinking about how parents are so protective of their teenage daughters. It's really annoying... I can't this, I can't that, I can't date, I can't drive, I can't go out on my own. I want the freedom but they have so much to deal with. I hate it. I guess they mean well. In the end, I realize that they DO want what's best for me, even though it doesn't feel that way... at all... ever. I just wanted to ground myself and others out there like me who feel like they need out. Parents don't want their little girls to grow up. We HAVE to grow up sometime but they want to put that off for as long as possible. I just wanted other girls out there to know that as much as it may feel that way, it's not only you that's being tortured this way.
~ Jessica, 13, Vancouver , BC
Dear Jessica and Emily,
Thanks for these two great letters. I included both because they each have to do with the topic of not being allowed to date!
So when should girls be allowed to date or have a boyfriend? Is there a magic age? I personally don't think it's about age as much as it's about being ready. Read on...
Rules, rules, rules!
I'm sure you'll agree that not all parents share the same views on freedom and rules! While some may be very lenient and have fewer rules for their kids, others may be totally strict. And like Jessica and Emily know very well,all those rules and restrictions can be highly frustrating!!! ...especially when you're trying to grow up and live your life.
So what's with all the rules? And why can't parents just trust their kids and let them make their own decisions?
Well, let's rewind a bit...
You probably don't remember but when adorable-little-you were born, there was no stork, no instruction manual, no 'How To Be The Perfect Parent' booklet tucked into your diaper. Nope, your parents (or guardians) had to figure most of it out on their own.
They fed you when you were hungry, they bundled you up when it was cold and they did things every day to keep you safe and sound, like teaching you not to touch the stove or eat bugs or walk into traffic. They were responsible for your safety and well being and that was (and still at times IS) a lot of pressure for them.
Seeing the Other Side
We all agree that parents don't always make the best decisions. Sometimes it seems that those decisions are flat out wrong and sometimes they make no sense at all. Here's the thing girls... if you want to have the cool freedoms like wearing makeup, dating and being trusted to make your OWN decisions, you're going to have to see their side of it too.
And in your defense, if they want to have good communication with you, they'll have to see your side as well!
For example, let's say you have a crush on a boy and you want to be his GF. You feel mature enough and ready to have a boyfriend, so what's the big deal, right?. Ask yourself WHY you think your Mom isn't cool with it. If you haven't ever talked about what having a BF means, maybe you're both thinking two different things.
Think about it. There are stories in the news about teens getting pregnant at 13, kids getting into trouble at parties or girls getting into bad date situations they can't handle. That's scary stuff for parents. Just like when you were a little girl, your parents feel responsible for keeping you safe and out of harm's way, so now when you just want to have a normal BF relationship, they think the worst.
Want the secret?
If you want to have freedoms, you have to show your parents that you are ready for the responsibilities that come with them. For instance, when you were little, if you wanted the freedom of riding your bike out of your Mom's eyeshot, you had to take the responsibility of knowing how to be safe, staying on the sidewalk and keeping track of time so you would be home when you said you would. Your parents may have worried about the worst possible scenarios like getting hit by a car, getting lost, or falling off and hurting yourself. But in the end, if you showed that you were RESPONSIBLE, your parents let you have the FREEDOMS.
Dating is very much the same. Your parents may worry about the worst possible scenario like kissing, getting pregnant, getting a bad reputation, getting distracted from school, or getting your heart broken. While none of that may be part of your idea of having a BF, your parents want to protect you and don't know yet that this is something you can handle on your own. Just like riding your bike out of sight, you have to show them that you can handle it, that you understand the risks and the rules and that you can be responsible.
Take the 17 Question 'Are You Ready For a Boyfriend Test!
Before we get to the part about how to convince your parents you are ready to have a BF, take this test to see if you really are as ready as you think you are (maybe grab your BFF and talk about it together... details ladies, don't hold back!):
1. Why do you want a BF and how will it make your life better than it is now?
2. If you had a BF, what would be different than if you two were just friends?
3. How long would you want to have a BF for?
4. How long do you think 'he' would want that to be?
5. Do you plan on kissing or having any other physical connections?
6. If yes, what will happen, if anything, when other people find out?
7. If yes, what are the best and worst possible outcomes of doing so?
8. How would you handle the worst possible outcome? How would he?
9. If no, what if your BF wants to kiss or do more and you don't want to? What if he pressures you?
10. How would you know if you needed to break up with your BF?
11. If you wanted to break up with your BF, how would you do that?
12. If your BF broke up with you, how would you feel about yourself?
13. What would change between you and your girlfriends if you had a BF?
14. Who do you have in your life that you trust to talk to about the details and feelings about your BF relationship?
15. What things are really important to you in your life right now and are you willing to break up with a BF if he doesn't support you in them?
16. If you had a BF, would you be able to do this
questionnaire with him?
17. If not, why?
If you're really brave, you can go through those questions with one or both of your parents to show them that you are taking responsibility and are ready to make good decisions.
Convincing Your Parents to Let You Have a BF
You may feel like YOU are ready for a BF but your parents may feel like THEY are NOT ready for it! Like Jessica wrote in her letter, they really DO want what's best for you, even though it doesn't always seem like it! They know all the bad things that could go wrong and they want to protect you.
Here are some tips on convincing your parents:
Tell them you want to have a BF and tell them what that MEANS. Does it mean you just like each other better but it's more like best friends with a crush? Will you want to go places together outside of school? Will you want to be having phone calls every day?
Let them feel like their concerns are valid. Without being defensive, ask them what their concerns are about you having a BF. Ask them what you could do to show them that you are responsible and ready.
Be a Listener!
Try not to cut them off or get whiny. Be mature and remember that they are concerned about your safety and well being. When they are finished talking, thank them for being willing to have the conversation with you and answer their questions.
Be Willing To Compromise!
If they won't budge don't fight it. See if there is a compromise. Maybe you can have a BF at school, but no dating out of school. Maybe they need some time to let it sink in that their little girl is growing up and they need to think about it for a while. Opening the lines of communication will be a great start.
Let them know you are willing to take this new freedom seriously. Even if the answer is still 'no', show them in other ways that you can handle the responsibilities of new freedoms as you grow up. The more they see you acting responsibly, the sooner they will feel comfortable letting you have a BF, or any other new freedom for that matter. Actions speak louder than words!
You Don't Have to Figure It All Out On Your Own
Sometimes we want something so bad that we convince ourselves we're ready even if we aren't. Figure out what having a BF means to you and if you get one, make sure HE knows what that is. I highly encourage you to be as honest with your parents as you can. If communication is very uncomfortable or non-existent with your parents, find another trusted adult to talk to. These years of your life will bring you some of the toughest decisions, the hardest lessons and the best memories ever! Having an adult to guide you is an amazing asset.
Let me know how it goes Jessica and Emily, and thanks for writing about this important topic!