4 rules for dating my son
Daughters aren’t the only ones who can make their parents nervous, says Scott Dunlop.
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Let’s face it, rules are only helpful for so long. The self-created legislation written by parents of young kids shows its cracks by the time those kids become teens. That’s if it didn’t already suffer an implosion of frustration and snot-drenched tears when they were toddlers.

There’s a t-shirt doing the rounds from a dad who wants to let people know about what the rules are when it comes to dating his daughter. It turns the traditional shotgun-toting-daddy image on its head, but I wonder how effective the same message is when applied to sons.


Here’s what the “”feminist father t-shirt” (as referred to by The Stir) had to say:

Rules for dating my daughter

1.    I don’t make the rules
2.    You don’t make the rules
3.    She makes the rules
4.    Her body, her rules

So here’s what I’d like to add to that, although it probably wouldn’t make such a snippy t-shirt design:

Rules for dating my son

I don’t make the rules (but)

I must say, I agree with point number one in one sense: there are just too many sub-clauses and too few case law studies to generate fool-proof rules. In fact, rules can be as useful as a Speedo made of sherbet when it comes to this, but I would suggest some fair guidelines. I know I was a bit of an idiot when it came to girls as a teen, and my son could benefit from my cringe-worthily embarrassing mistakes. Here’s an example: Don’t lie to your parents about where you’re going to be, and then not tell your boyfriend. It breaks down any trust your parents may have in him when you get caught out (and you will be).

You don’t make the rules (but)

This is also a good stab at a non-rule ruling. I’d like to think that my son and any romantic interest he may have are on equal footing. Don’t call them rules, then, but, once again, I’d like to hope that you’d both be aware of this equality in a relationship. He isn’t looking for a parent in a partner or to be a parent to that partner. You can both chat and decide what you’re comfortable with. Let’s hope that all of our rules, chats and tears from earlier on in your lives have helped to generate some moral and ethical balance.

She makes the rules (but)

This is one I’d also like to file under the “equality” rule. The “rule” should maybe read that you both need to discuss what you believe is right for you both (and why) and keep communicating.

Her body, her rules (but)

Yes! You have every right to say NO. And so does my son. No exceptions. You should both be clear on what’s good for you and what isn’t, as well as those words which seem so frightening and laughable when you’re a teen, “consequences” and “”responsibility”.

Bonus rule: Fun is mandatory

I’m not facing this dilemma yet, personally, but I’d like my son and any future partner he has to have fun. Sit up late, talking, listening to great music, getting to know each other. I’d like you both to go beyond that teenage reaction to rules; that they must be broken, and keep developing as much as individuals as you do a couple.

The worst description of a vagina, ever

The saying that “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime that it is wasted on children” [sometimes attributed to George Bernard Shaw, sometimes Oscar Wilde] is true of teens, too. We can look back as adults at the amount of time we spend in pursuit of sex as teens rather than the enjoyment of our creative energy. A friend’s father one said to me as a teen, “don’t mess up everything for something that looks like a dead pig’s eye”. Worst description of a vagina, ever, but he made his point crystal clear.

My only rule, I guess would be one long one, for both my son and anyone dating him: Respect each other, show kindness to each other, don’t string each other along if it’s not working out; be gentle with each other if you do break up. Forgive each other your mistakes and do your best not to keep secrets.

I try to stick to that rule myself.

*This is not based on my son who is a great kid who doesn’t deserve to be the victim of my memories of being an awkward teen.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Is there anything you would say to a girl wanting to date your son?

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