I can hear people gasping at the title, shaking their head vehemently at the thought of a 15-year-old having a boyfriend. Trust me, years ago, I was there, too, looking at my little girl and vowing that she’d NEVER have a boyfriend before the age of 32…preferably 40.
As time went on and she got older, relationships for her became more challenging. I listened to struggles with friends and gave plenty of advice, but I realized that experience is the best teacher. She watched me go through a traumatic relationship with her father, and while I hoped that would teach her what not to look for in a partner, psychology has taught us it really just depends on the person. I worried that perhaps she would be drawn to men like her father. I didn’t want her to go through what I did, but how would I protect her from that?
One of the biggest challenges I have experienced as a parent is watching her struggle and wanting to do nothing but protect her from every harmful experience or situation. Protecting her doesn’t always have the desired impact and can actually result in more harm than good.
Freshman year started in August, and immediately she began talking about a boy. He seemed nice, but I felt myself becoming guarded the more she spoke about him. My momma radar was going off, and not because he didn’t seem like a nice kid, but I knew what was coming…a boyfriend.
She asked for him to come over and I wrestled with what to do. If I told her “No,” I realized children will try to sneak around, do things behind your back and so on. I didn’t want that. I pride myself on my open relationship with my daughter and the policy that she can speak to me about anything (I have my freak-outs behind closed doors to my husband and mother). I didn’t want to jeopardize this. I said “Yes,” and so it began.
There are rules. Open doors, hands where I can see them, etc. but as time goes on and they are still dating, rules change, my trust in them grows and I begin to trust my daughter more and the person she is growing to become.
I realize that being in a relationship is the best way for her to learn what is healthy and what isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t let anything happen without being watchful to ensure her safety, but navigating relationships is such an important part of growing up. As we grow, the experiences allow us to know what we are willing to accept, what we deserve, how to say “No” and set boundaries—which are all super-important tools to have.
Heartbreak will happen, so will disappointment, happiness and even love. I don’t feel that it’s fair to negate how my daughter feels since she’s only 15; in her mind, her relationship is real and worthy of care and validation.
So, we invite him to events, over for dinner, to try to get to know him, to feel out how they are together. All I know is, he makes her smile, treats her well, and much to her credit, she doesn’t take any nonsense.
I allow my 15-year-old to have a boyfriend, but there are rules, curfews, phone calls and exchanges with his parents to ensure we are all on the same page with rules and boundaries, as they navigate a relationship. As they grow, so will these rules, but for now, I am comfortable with my decision and letting my little girl figure out some things as she goes through life.
Just know I am always right here, waiting for whatever she may need. Willing to listen and offer advice and guide her through this thing called “life.”