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October 5, 2012

Rules to set for dating teenagers

NORMAN — Q: My daughter is an only child, and my husband and I have always told her she could not date until she turned 16. The problem is she’ll be 16 in two months and likes a boy who we don’t really like. Is it OK to tell her she can’t date at 16 as long as she’s with him?

— Cathy

Dear Cathy, No one ever said parenting was easy. Here’s the thing... You can’t go back on a rule that was made years ago. Parents teach valuable lessons by keeping promises to their kids. Your daughter has been looking forward to this day for a very long time, we can promise you. Did your parents like every kid you dated? Doubtful.

Here are some ideas we hope will help. Have dating rules. Set them up soon so she will have time to accept them. You never told her she could have free reign at 16. You might tell her he is welcome at your house as long as an adult is home.

Getting to know him may help you become more comfortable with the situation and you or your husband will be there to make spontaneous trips to the kitchen by way of the living room.

You can also give her a curfew of when to be home that isn’t unreasonable but certainly less than desirable. Dating only on non-school nights is another good rule.

Whether we like it or not, our kids grow up, and we have to let them exert some independence. Dating is a great way for young people to decide what they like and what they don’t like. By all means, if you haven’t had the serious talk with your daughter about the way she deserves to be treated, have it immediately. You will all make it through this, and you’ll be glad you set a good foundation for her when she’s no longer living at home.

Sally Phillips and Jeannie DeLancey are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children and Sally has three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district. Send questions to questions.classact@gmail.com or mail them to Class Act, The Norman Transcript, P.O. Drawer 1058, Norman, 73070.

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