There is a new development in our house…Master Z has a girlfriend.
And not just a ‘Will you go out with me?’, then five seconds later ‘You are dropped’ type of girlfriend. This one seems genuine. They chat all the time on the phone and via social media, and have spent quite a few occasions in each other’s company over the holidays. She is a very sweet girl, I’m pleased to say that I approve of his taste. Polite, sensitive and friendly, this young lady has spent a few social occasions with us as a family recently.
I like her.
But I’ll also be honest and say I feel completely ill-equipped.
Call me strange, but I had not considered all the ramifications of my fifteen and a half year old son having a steady girlfriend before he dropped the out-of-the-blue bombshell on us. Of course we are thrilled for him, he is very happy and the new girl seems very good for him, but it has progressed us to the next stage of parenthood somewhat sooner than I would have liked.
Let’s keep it in perspective…I have only just finished breastfeeding Miss L a couple of months ago. And we are still, as we speak, working towards Master C successfully wiping his own backside. The fact that I have a hormone driven teenager also in the house with his own agenda tends to escape me at times.
Master Z is in Year Ten. He is now dating steadily and will be sitting behind the wheel of my car later on this year. Earlier this week, he popped himself down to the train station to go catch a train and meet his new woman for a movie date. Alone. So between his two houses, we have all of a sudden had to educate ourselves on what the appropriate rules and regulations are for this new uncharted territory we call ‘teenage dating’.
As much as I trust him, it’s terrifying.
I think back to my adolescence and am smacked in the face with how useless my experience is to draw on. I was not, in the slightest, interested in going on dates and having a steady boyfriend during high school. Or even in my University years. Chasing after my favourite female teacher at school occupied far too much of my time for that nonsense. Go figure.
So I have relied on the experiences of trustworthy others who have travelled this path before me, namely my work colleagues to guide me. Thank goodness for their wisdom! I’m trying really hard not to be the archaic naysayer who makes it exceedingly difficult to be cool, by imposing all kinds of rules and regulations…But there are so many things to consider.
What is appropriate couple behaviour for fifteen year olds?
What rules do I need to put in place to ensure that boundaries are respected?
How often should they be communicating?
How do I ensure this all gets kept at the level it should be for his age?
Obvious fears aside, I worry about the emotional toll of having relationship issues to contend with on top of the regular pushes and pulls of high school life. My big boy is a softie. He wears his heart on his sleeve and tends to leap into things without always thinking them through (must be a trait he gets from the donor).
How do I guide him to keep this whole romance in perspective?
Over the Easter holidays, the last couple of events we have hosted with friends and family have involved Master Z inviting his girlfriend, and them watching movies together in their room. Yes I can hear it from here – what? You are letting him entertain in his room??? I know, I know. But our house has limited entertaining space and more munchkins around than you will find along the Yellow Brick Road, so as long as the door is open at all times, I am ok with this, as are his girlfriends’ parents.
In saying this though, I still feel like I need to casually saunter past every now and then, much to Master Z’s insistence that ‘Nothing is going on!’
I am sure he considers me a source of tremendous embarrassment.
Should I be leaving them be, and just hoping for the best? Who knows? It feels like fifteen years is pretty much all we get to raise and educate our son to be a decent, respectful human being, and somehow I missed the warning bell along the way reminding me that our time was nearly up.
Many conversations in our house are taking place as we stumble through this together, and I’m relieved as Master Z seems comfortable talking to us openly about his issues. He has wonderful friends and many other older mentors in his life that he can chat to also. It’s yet another of the moments in parenting where it would be great to have that guidebook to consult, or an ‘adultier adult’ around to tell you how to navigate these signposts along the way.
So as I make my way down the hallway to yet again assist Master C in wiping his backside, I will just have to trust that all in Master Z’s life is progressing as it should.
Those of you who have travelled this path before, I’m keen to hear your best piece of advice for this lovely little chapter of teen life… My younger kids thank you in advance.
5 thoughts on “A New Development In Our House”
No advice from me Shannon other than for you to take another look at something you see everyday anyway – Master Z’s baby blue eyes. Prepare yourself because there’s little doubt those eyes (and Master Z’s genuinely warm and caring personality) are going to win him a lot of fans and admirers over the upcoming years.
Awwww thanks Glen. Yes he’s a lucky boy with his baby blues. Your turn will come, and let me tell you, it’s hair raising to say the least.
After raising 3 teenage girls my biggest piece of advice would be open communication, but not just with your children. We spoke to their boyfriend’s and their boyfriend’s parents and expressed our rules. No boyfriend’s were allowed over during a school week. Phones were put in a basket on the bench by 10pm (This started in grade 8).
We took our daughters to the shops and we made them buy condoms (Not my husband and I)
After 3 months of them “dating” weeks allowed the boyfriend’s to sleep over but in separate rooms (My children knew not to brake the rules), 1 month after that their boyfriend’s were allowed to stay in my daughters room but not until my younger children were asleep in bed (they had to be back in there bed before my younger children woke up), 1 month after that their boyfriend’s were allowed to sleep in my daughters room.
If we had to talk to our children about concerns we spoke to the boyfriend’s at the same.
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You sound like you are all over it Rebecca!!! Great ideas here, particularly like the idea of talking to both your daughter and her boyfriend together. Wow there is just so very much to think about!!!! Thanks so much for the help.
I’m lucky my eldest daughter (now 22) only had a boyfriend (who was a good friend first and then became a boyfriend for a few months and then went back to just being a good friend) when she was 16 (and he was 15). She hasn’t had a boyfriend since but tells me she’s pretty sure she’s straight. Anyway I can relate to your anxiety when you first realise that they have someone who is more special then just a friend and working out boundaries. One of my best friends was also really good friends with the boyfriends parents and this helped with the communication side. I also felt a bit more comfortable knowing they did not believe in sex before marriage, and even though I don’t share that view it made me feel safer for my daughter knowing they would be discouraging their son. I had always talked to my daughter about the fact that she was concieved when her father and I were using contraception (condoms) and due to that fact I am always reminding people that no contraception is 100% successful and for that reason I believe in not becoming sexually involved unless you are old enough and mature enough to handle the possibility of a pregnancy. I think this has actually scared my daughter a bit as she NEVER wants to have kids (and maybe that’s why she hasn’t had another boyfriend since A). My daughter’s father’s parents actually encouraged him to sleep with me before I was ready for it. The first night I stayed over at his place I told him I’d sleep in his bed if he wanted to sleep on the spare double bed or vice versa and he told me that his parents would quiz him on why we didn’t sleep in the same bed if I chose not to share a bed with him! In fact when his parents went off to their bedroom that night, they made a point of commenting on hoping the spare double bed would be comfortable enough for us both (and I was shocked). I was 18 at the time (and got pregnant with my daughter 4 years later). I think what others have said about open communciation with both the kids and the girls parents is really important, and even if you think your son and his gf are considering sex, make sure you don’t make them feel like it’s expected by X stage of a relationship because it could be that they aren’t even thinking about it and then feel some what pressured to speed up the relationship. When I was 15 I went to a friend’s 16th birthday party and her parents unlocked the liquor cabinet and left a bowl of condoms on the table and left for the night (with a dozen 15 and 16 year olds in the house). I was completely shocked (but thankfully my boyfriend at the time was completely respectful and told me he realised we weren’t ready for anything like that). Good luck.