Discuss dating with daughters before they start

Published 5:45 pm Saturday, August 10, 2013

QUESTION:  My daughter, who looks older than her age, is attracting older boys.  She is flattered, but I want her to understand the risks she may encounter.

ANSWER:  I remember watching a class of sixth-graders walk onto the stage for a holiday concert; in the midst of that group of 12-year-old children was this lovely, long-legged girl who looked like she was 15-years-old.

I remember thinking, “Oh, no; she is going to face a lot of difficult challenges with older guys way too early in her life.”

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Here are some things to talk about with girls who are in the position to meet and be interesting to older guys:

•A girl may lose her own friends because she’s hanging out with an older guy and his friends.

•Some older guys get connected with younger girls so they can feel more powerful.  Instead of being treated as equals, younger girls are told how to dress and act and, afraid of doing the wrong thing, girls find themselves trying to please, even when things don’t seem right.

•Older guys may expect sex.  A younger girl may be talked into being sexually active, even when she knows she’s not ready.

•If an older guy can legally drink alcohol, he may expect his younger date to drink, too.  When you’ve been drinking, it’s harder to keep the limits you’ve set, especially around sex.  Even when an older guy means to respect a younger girl’s wishes, if he’s been drinking he may not.

•Laws vary from place to place, but depending on the age difference, a guy can be charged with unlawful intercourse if he’s having sex with a younger girl, even if the girl has said “yes.”  He can still be fined and put in jail.

•Sometimes an older guy can seem like the answer to life’s problems at home or at school, at least for a while.  But the risks, like a sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy, can make problems worse.  Most babies born to teen moms are fathered by men who are 20 or older.

The best time to talk with our daughters is before they are dating.

Boys their own age may seem immature and there may be a time when an older guy may seem more interesting; he may even have money and a car.  However, it’s likely that while a girl is a teenager, the relationship will make life a whole lot more complicated.

 If you would like help with the challenges in raising children, call the free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599.