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Teenager » Discipline and Guidance

Teen Daughter Dating Older Boys

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Dear Dr. Susan:

I am a mother of 3. A boy 18, a boy 15 and a girl 14. We are all very close. And good friends. I knew this would happen, but just don’t know what to do. My daughter started high school this year. She is very mature and extremely beautiful. (I am not just saying that, everyone says it.) The boys have gone crazy! Including the 17 and 18 year old seniors. She seems to be attracted to the older ones also. I don’t want to cut communications by slamming my hand down and saying absolutely not! She tells me what they say and what they do. I listen, however I don’t approve. When we talk she brings up good points like “I have a brain and you can trust me” or “Did you date older guys mom?” How do I get my point across smoothly? I told her to write down how she felt about the situation and I would save it and then show her in 20 years, then ask her if she thought she was right. She said probably not, because I will be older. I then told her, “well I am older so I must know what is best.” I hope you do respond to this letter.

Thank you,

Meredith

Dear Meredith:

You are entering the door marked – this is a girl’s room and girls are very different at 14 than boys! Since you’re close, you can be sure she realizes that her behavior and how she dresses and talks will be the way boys learn to behave around her. If she acts seductive and flirts at her age, she will get labeled as easy to date, not easy to talk to. She needs to take full responsibility for her actions and make decisions now with you about how she wants to be perceived by boys of different ages. Her looks have a lot to do with male attraction, but her conversation, dress, and family rules are the tip offs to boys that form them about how to treat her. She does not want to be seductive at her age, even if television and MTV make it seem otherwise. She wants a lot of girlfriends and the safety net of having parents who are absolutely firm about family rules, like mealtime, bedtime, dating instructions, and inappropriate behavior. She is teasing you when she puts the dating game talk back on you. You are in charge – period. Tell her you’ll tell her one dating story of yours for every occasion where she shows she is acting appropriately and not acting as if she wants do date “older guys.” There is no reason to date seniors when she is a freshman. Girls who have gone that route have real horror stories to tell – guys overpowering girls, guys ganging up on girls, guys telling each other lies about sex and sexual behaviors of girls, thus giving them very bad reputations that last throughout high school.

Thanks again for writing,

Susan H. Turben, ph.D.

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