I am dating this girl but my mother doesn't want me to date anyone. She tells me to date when I'm older but I think it's unfair. I don't want to keep her a secret. I speak to her on Skype but my mother is always around so I tell her I'm speaking to a friend.
Zozo (age 16)
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There is tremendous pressure for people your age to date and have girl- and boyfriends. There’s probably also a lot of pressure at your school to have a girlfriend, yes? Do some of your friends make fun of you because you don’t have a girlfriend?
You’re no doubt aware of the risks taken when young people get together alone and things get a bit carried away. I’m not going to give you a birds and bees lecture, but you’re mother is no doubt concerned about this. Of course, you’re likely confident that you can date a girl without having sex. Not knowing anything about you, I can’t predict how well or how poorly you control your hormones, but one could imagine that if an opportunity afforded itself where the two of you were alone, the kissing became passionate, and the condoms absent, trouble could ensue.
Another factor here is your mother’s past, believe it or not. If she, for instance, became pregnant at an early age and/or the man who got her pregnant abandoned her and her child, she’s going to try her darndest not to let the same thing happen to you, whether or not you feel such fears are justified.
Sneaking around will get you caught, eventually. Your mother is likely suspicious and will be closely monitoring you. Her house, her rules, as the saying goes. But please look upon her actions as being motivated not to be a controlling jerk to you but, rather, because she loves and cares about you and wants you to have a happy future, which can be very difficult if you have children when you are a teenager.
The solution is the opposite of your current strategy: instead of secrecy, you should be completely transparent about your behavior and activities. This will help build trust, and with trust, generally, comes a loosening of the leash. Key to this is to have an open dialog with your mother and to establish ground rules about dating. As a conversation breaker, here is an excellent article from Parenting magazine about allowing teens to date and what to do (some quizzes are included).
I know you’ve had a conversation before, but it was probably more confrontational than constructive, am I right? Something like, “Mom, all my friends are dating; why can’t I? You’re not being fair!” and so on. In your conversation, acknowledge right away that you recognize your mom has only your best interests in mind and that you know she loves you and that you love her. Ask her to have a conversation with you and to discuss her fears and hopes for you. Listen to her; don’t argue at this point. Show her the linked article, and just ask her to talk with you about it.
As you progress, discuss rules about dating that she will be comfortable with, such as curfews and, perhaps, checking in with her by phone occasionally. Also, start with your going to group functions such as parties where girls will be allowed and that are supervised by adults. Approach things gradually and give your mother time to become comfortable with the fact that you are a healthy soon-to-be-adult who needs to learn the ropes of having a relationship (can you imagine being an adult of 30 or more and not knowing how to date properly?) Have her recognize that allowing you to date is part of being a good parent and that her participation in it is not only expected but appreciated. Ask her for advice on dating, and don’t ignore what she says. She is, after all, a woman and knows what women are looking for.
My parents didn’t give me much input on dating, and boy was I bad at it! You have the opportunity to learn from your elders and be good at dating! Take advantage of it while you’re young.
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