Parenting, Abington Style: Navigating through teenage relationships

Parenting, Abington Style - Adriane Heine | April 12th, 2016 5:30 pm

I dodged a bullet last week, but it’s one I will eventually have to take.

My high school freshman daughter and her first real boyfriend almost broke up. I know — really? I got attached to him already? It’s only been six months! What a sap I am.

It was adorable when he asked her to homecoming back in October and then, after she said yes, asked her to “go out” a week or two later. I came to appreciate how they talk endlessly and laugh often.

There was the time another boy said something derogatory about my daughter, and her boyfriend got into his first fist fight as a result. (Neither teen told their parents — the evidence was on her boyfriend’s face.)

He is always respectful to everyone in my family, is a great student and a very impressive athlete. How could I not get attached to someone who has proven himself to be a good kid and such a loyal friend?

Then there are the parents. Thanks to the tradition of families coming together for pre-dance photo-taking, we got to know his back in October. There have been two more semi-formals since and the whole family has grown on me. Mom and Dad could not be nicer, more fun-loving people. We laugh easily and enjoy each other’s company. Not to mention they have a much younger little girl in their family to match ours. The little ones constantly ask about their next play date.

To my own credit, I have not gotten here easily. I am supportive of the relationship, but not encouraging. We provide rides and supervision, but prompt our daughter to also see her girlfriends and go to parties like she used to. These kids, however, don’t need us to remind them to stay balanced. They are both engaged in a wide variety of healthy activities.

Despite the temptation, I have not set up play dates for the little girls outside of the pre-dance photo ops. I have not gone out for coffee with his mom or suggested a couples’ night out with his parents.

Why? Because this will end. Eventually. And it’s going to sting. The kids both have high aspirations and they have a lot of growing up to do. They need to test the waters and broaden their horizons. Mine sees herself going off to a city out west or travelling internationally.

So when they hit a rough patch last week, I braced myself. I would miss them. I wish this kind boy only the very best. I knew there would be a hole in both of their lives since they have become important to each other and created such nice memories.

It turned out to be a false alarm; they worked it out and appear more jovial with each other than ever, if that is possible. As the mother of three daughters, though, I realize this is just the first of many times I will be forced to negotiate around a relationship like this. No one in their right mind wants their child to select his or her future spouse at 14, but yet we open our hearts and homes to these kids. We come to see the special gifts in the people they brought home to us, and when they leave, they will be missed.

Parenting, Abington Style

Adriane Heine

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