One minute you're tying their shoelaces before they head off to kindergarten, the next you're tripping over their size ten shoes that have been casually discarded in the hallway. Yes, before you know it, your infants become teens, and within the process come those milestones that you have probably been dreading.
There's the fear of your teenager learning to drive, for starters. And if that wasn't enough to put a knot in your stomach, the second milestone you have to deal with is when your son starts dating. It's not the fact that he has a girlfriend that might worry you, but rather the fear that she might steal his affections away from you, his mother! You might worry that he's met the wrong person too, or you might worry that he will do something he later regrets, such as becoming a father by not taking the necessary precautions.
Of course, as a mom, you need to be happy for your son. When he meets somebody he likes, you have to trust him to make the right decisions. But there is advice you can give him to set him on the right path, and no, this advice does not include "forget about girlfriends, you should stay at home with me forever." Assuming, of course, that you aren't ready to cut those apron strings just yet!
Here are some of the things you should let your son know.
#1: Don't be pressured into dating
Some boys date to look cool in front of their friends. Some boys date because their friends are, and they think they should do. These are not the right reasons. So, let your son know that he doesn't have to feel pressured into dating. Let him know that's it's perfectly acceptable to be single for as long as he wants to. Let him understand that it's not weird, different, or uncool to not have a girlfriend, and remind him that he isn't the only one. This way, he will be free to live his life the way he wants if he's not yet ready for a relationship, and he won't break the heart of another person should he later realize or admit that he was dating for the wrong reasons.
#2: Be respectful to the other person
If your son develops a reputation for being disrespectful in a relationship, that might scupper his chances of another girl wanting to date him in the future. Word quickly gets around, especially within a school environment. Of course, teaching him to be respectful isn't only about protecting his self-interests. It's also about protecting the girl in the relationship, as you wouldn't your son to do something that badly hurts another. So, remind your son about using good manners. Let him know that he has to be respectful of the other person's feelings. And should she end the relationship, let your son know that the worst thing he can do is broadcast lies and negative feelings around school and on social media about her.
#3: Take the relationship slowly
Some boys fall head over heels in love with the girl they're dating. They become so enamoured that they assume that 'she is the one.' And while she might be the one, there is still no need to rush the relationship. Your son shouldn't rush into thoughts about looking for the perfect engagement ring for that special someone. And as we shall mention below, he shouldn't hurry into a sexual relationship. Remind your son to keep things in perspective. Let him know that the feelings he has now may change in weeks or months down the line, because while he thinks he might be in love, he might be confusing those feelings with excitement because he's dating somebody, or because he is caught up in a hormonal flurry. This might minimize any heartbreak should his girlfriend end the relationship. On the flip side, it could be the girl who tries to hurry the relationship along. She might take the lead and guide your son down a path that he's not ready for. So, in both senses, let your son know that it's okay to take things slowly. Let him know that dating should be fun, and not a trial run for marriage.
#4: Think carefully before having sex
As a mom, you probably dread the idea of your son having a sexual relationship. Especially if he is of an age when he shouldn't be, then it's perfectly acceptable to warn your son away from this. However, we are getting into a tricky area here, because thanks to your son's raging hormones, he might still be tempted to have sex within the relationship against your better wishes. Or he might feel that he should because of peer pressure. So, you need to sit down and have that talk with him. While he might think the internet has already taught him what he needs to know, you need to remind him about consent, contraception, the risk of sexual diseases, and that it's okay not to have sex at all if he isn't ready for it. Check out the tips in the previously linked article for more. When it comes to your son dating, this is probably the thing you dread the most, but keeping the lines of communication open with your son about the issue is important, and could protect him from doing something he later regrets.
#5: There will be other girls
Finally, and assuming that she doesn't turn out to be 'the one,' remind your son that there are other girls out there. Let him know that he doesn't have to pin all of his hopes and dreams on one person and that he should do as we have suggested already, take things slowly and have fun on his dates, instead of taking things too seriously. This is advice that will stand him in good stead should he break up with the girl he is dating. While you can help him deal with the breakup should it happen, letting him know beforehand that life will go on should a breakup occur might prepare him in advance for any problems down the line.
There will be a day when your son flies the nest, possibly to get married and have a family of his own. This is something you will have to deal with. However, to ensure he makes the right choices, give him dating advice you think is appropriate, be that with the suggestions we have raised here, or through tips of your own. Let us know too if there is anything you want to add to our article. If you do have advice, please share it with us in support of other moms and their teenage children.
Thanks for reading!
CANDY TAI is a wife to David and mom of 5 with a degree in Communications. She's a native Texan (Hook 'Em Horns!) who's been making her home in the Kansas City metro area for nearly 15 years. She loves being able to shuffle her kids from their various sports activities, piano lessons, and school activities. She enjoys fashion, beauty, reality TV, and moviegoing.