When your kids get old enough, dating definitely becomes an issue. I believe we are like most parents who are pretty protective of their girls. "Doc" would often say "She will not date until she is 38." Well, you know that isn't realistic! With the boys, I preferred to believe that I had raised them properly and that they would be gentlemen on their dates with young ladies.
There are a couple of problems inherent in the above belief. When the kids were in grade school, either the kids themselves were interested in dating or their parents were setting up dates. Yes - I said grade school! Whatever happened to letting kids be kids, playing outside, riding bikes, drinking water out of the hose. Stand your ground! We had some old fashioned rules. No makeup for the girls until at least 8th Grade. No dating for anyone until age 16 with the exception of school dances. Don't let your kids rob themselves of their childhood even though like every generation, they all try to grow up too fast!
Once dating did start, we had some pretty old fashioned rules too. If the girls went out, we had to meet the young man first. He had to come into the house to pick her up. Most of the boys we already knew because we live in a small community. Any friend or boyfriend or girlfriend who could not speak to us or be courteous was not welcome in our home or welcome to go out with our children. Period! And I did enforce that rule. Our boys were expected to go out on a date with me, so I could show them how to treat a young lady. It carried over to other areas of their lives and as a side note I am proud every time they open a door for someone older or a young lady.
Not too long ago, I decided that they had lived by my rules with respect to dating and I was happy. I figured that I now owed them the courtesy of understanding "dating" in their world. The biggest hurdle was terminology. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a teen, it was all pretty simple. In middle school, your friend would ask you if you liked someone and you wanted to be his girlfriend. The first response was usually "Show me who he is. or "Which one is he?" If he looked good to you, you were boyfriend and girlfriend as total strangers. By the time you got to high school, you usually knew the guy first. You walked to class together, went out after football and basketball games, talked on the phone and eventually he asked you to go steady and he gave you his class ring to wear. Weird, huh?!
I had to learn an entire language to talk to my kids about dating. When they were in grade school and middle school they wanted to "Go" with someone. I didn't know where they were "going". At that age, they couldn't drive, and they were only allowed to take their bike with me going along because we live on country roads, not in a neighborhood. I certainly wasn't endorsing "going out", so I wasn't taking them anywhere.
Now, as young adults, we start out by "Hanging Out". This means they go to movies together, or spend time together at each other's houses. In stage two, we "Talk". I was under the impression that talking had been going on all along, but apparently I am mistaken. "Talking" is essentially the same as "Hanging Out" but with a little more commitment. NEVER call them boyfriend or girlfriend at this stage, they will freak out. After an extended amount of time, the next stage is "Boyfriend/Girlfriend". This is official and it is now okay to tell people that they are in this stage and dating. Please note that all of the above steps are exclusive of other people.
I don't know, it just seemed simpler when I was their age. We skipped all the steps in between and just went steady!
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!