My family is fairly overprotective of our 13-year-old daughter, but not in the typical sense of daddy cleaning his shotgun when the boy comes over to take the daughter on a date. Momma is cleaning the shotgun in this house.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, many of the kids had “boyfriends” or “girlfriends” and my daughter even had a little boyfriend for a while. At first we just laughed it off as cute, but as time went on it started to bother me that kids were already concerned with complex boy-girl relationships at 5 and 6 years old. We had the discussion with our daughter that it is ok to have friends who are boys, but boyfriends weren’t appropriate at that age.
By third grade many of the kids in her class not only had boyfriends and girlfriends; they had steady relationships and proclaimed their love for each other in Facebook. The was a small scandal when one girl was caught sending sexually explicit text messages to a popular boy.
Now that my daughter is in middle school, not only is there enormous pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, there are female students in 7th and 8th grade who are pregnant. There was a recent incident where two boys were habitually unhooking a 12-year-old girls bra strap, groping her, and making disgusting sexual comments to her.
In such a sexualized culture where purity is not only rare, it is something that is mocked, raising a child that remains innocent is a challenge to say the least. We have made some dramatic changes in our parenting plan and lifestyle to instill certain values into our daughter.
The most radical change we made is pulling her out of public school and homeschooling her. In our state there is a lot of support available from the school, so she is able to continue with the same quality of education at home, without the constant pressures of a large middle school. We are also able to more easily control her interactions with friends, and who feeds into her life. We have made regular church attendance a priority, not only so she is exposed to our beliefs and values, but also because she has more like-minded friends there. My husband and I try to model a good relationship to her as well. This may be the most important factor in passing our values down to her. If she sees a secure, loving marriage we feel that she is more likely to make wise choices where dating and boys are concerned.
Another area where we may differ from the “norm” is social media and phone usage. I can’t monitor her 24/7, and she certainly has some unsupervised access with her phone, but privacy is not a right in this house. She is not allowed to have any accounts without furnishing us with the user name and password, and we regularly check her phone. She once went behind my back and created a “secret” Facebook profile, so she is not allowed to have a Facebook. Thankfully she is still at the age where I am more tech savvy than she is!
There are parental controls on her phone, and if it becomes necessary, there are apps that will limit what she can see and do.
Is this helicopter parenting? Am I disrespecting her? Maybe! But Proverbs 4:24 says above EVERYTHING, guard your heart. As parents we are trying to make it easier for her to do just that.
We know that we can’t keep her in a bubble her entire life, and that isn’t our goal. We merely want to give her a safe, nurturing environment until she is mature enough to make wise decisions. She is definitely not allowed to date at her current age, but when the day comes we have already set clear expectations and boundaries, and are confident that she will make better decisions because of the guidance she has received at home.
She is not allowed to date. Period. We have not decided on an age when she will be allowed to date, and even then, it will not be the traditional sending my daughter off alone with a hormonal boy.
My daughter is unique and precious, and I will do everything within my power to steer her down the right path and help her to chase after God’s plan for her life, and not chase after boys.
This may not be a popular stance on parenting and dating, and that’s ok. I am open minded, and sometimes parenting is an evolving thing. But the principles on which we parent will never change. It is by far more important to me that my daughter grows up as a Godly young woman equipped with the tools to fulfill her destiny, than that she be popular. Or that I am popular, or that anyone approves of my parenting.
Do you have a teenage daughter? What are your rules for dating?