I’ve always taught my two daughters that dating as a teenager is both unrealistic and unnecessary.
First of all, they can’t drive. So the only time they could see one another is at school or if they were transported somewhere by their parents. Second, the entire point of dating is to eventually find someone to spend your life with. As a teenager, it’s just not a realistic goal. The likelihood of finding your mate at such a young age just isn’t high.
Unfortunately, not even this logic can deter my children forever. Eventually, curiosity would begin to take over as they got older — as much I as hoped it wouldn’t.
It already has for my youngest.
Jaiden, who is 14, just started high school, and she already has a date to homecoming. At her school, homecoming is just for fun. They have a theme and they dress up — more in costumes than formal wear — and they all get together to hang out and have a good time. It’s really not that big of a deal.
But it's a big deal to me. She’s my baby, and I’ve always done everything in my power to protect her from anything and anyone that might hurt her.
That is, until now. This is one time when I can’t save her from what might happen.
I know I’m probably overthinking this situation. The boy she’s going with is the cousin of a friend. She barely knows him and it’s not like they hang out often. And even though she’s had male friends in the past, this one feels different. Unlike her previous guy friends, with whom she hung out at school or football games, I know she likes this guy, which means there is a potential for her to get hurt.
Of course, should they start dating at any point in the future, there is a chance they could part ways amicably. Then again, they might not. Eventually, whether it’s him or someone else, there is a very real chance her heart will get broken.
I worry about this with both of my girls. And as much as I know and understand I won’t be able to stop it when it happens, I don’t know how to prepare for it either. My first instinct will be to give the offending party a piece of my mind, but I know if I want to keep my relationship with my children in tact, that won’t be an option.
I know I can’t save her. I can’t save either of them. All I can do is be there for them to lend and ear, an arm or a hug — whatever they need to get through it. I need to let them know they aren’t alone and the person who caused them pain isn’t worth their time or energy.
I also have to understand my words might not help. It might be that only time will heal their pain. They might also lean on friends more than they lean on me. I have to pray I have taught them to know their worth and to understand that a relationship does not and cannot define who they are as individuals.
And I know I have to let them go through it — whether or not I’m ready.