The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not

Rules of Engagement for Dating My Son


It has come to my attention, as the mother of a 15 year old son, that I need to establish rules for young women interested in dating my son. Though I’ve never been a fan of the accepted imagery that accompanies the fathers of daughters, sitting on the porch polishing weapons when boyfriends pull up to the house, I can confirm that this is a joked-about cultural norm that seems to only swing one way. At my house, guess what: if you want to date my son, then you need to get through me. And I used to be a young woman, so can the bullshit “I’m a girl so you have to do everything for me” attitude. Put on your big girl panties and pay attention. This advice will get you far in life.

My son is not a bank.
On the flip side, this is the new millennium, and as a strong, stand-up gal, you have the wherewithal to go Dutch, occasionally treat my son, share the burden of driving. My son will not be giving you his class ring or his letter jacket. He will not be giving you family heirlooms or expensive jewelry. Every date you go on doesn’t have to delve into his college fund. How about a picnic and a lovely hike? Two-for-one bowling? Movie on the lawn? Be creative, be romantic, be fun. But don’t be stingy. Do you want to pay for and buy all of the aforementioned things for him … every time? I didn’t think so. As an adult, you need to be able to stand on your own. When you marry, your house needs to be in both names; likewise with a car. As a woman, you have every opportunity to be as educated, well-versed, professionally accomplished as any man. Never forget that. Just don’t do it at the expense of someone else–no matter what genetic material they’re carrying.

My son does not deserve to be a notch on your bedpost any more than you deserve to be a notch on his.
For many years, I was the grantwriter and public affairs officer (read: General Assembly lobbyist) for an HIV/AIDS  organization. There is nothing that I cannot talk about, and there is nothing that will embarrass me if it’s important to hear and be said. With access to spectacular community health educators, I got the skinny on raising teenagers from them when the mini me went to middle school. Did you know that there’s something like 65% of all teenage pregnancies occur during 3 – 5 pm during the week? The exact percentage is lost to the vast wasteland of time, but the sentiment is the same: teenagers with no parental guidance and nothing better to do between the end of school and parents getting home from work do not need idle time to practice their coitus. And if they are practicing their coitus, at any time of the day, they need to be doing it responsibly and with accountability. I tell my son: “Don’t you bring home no babies.” I also don’t want him to bring home chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV disease, syphilis, herpes, or anything communicable. On the contrary, I don’t want him to be scarred when it comes to physical relationships with girls; sex is fun and healthy and a natural part of being alive. I just want him to wait until he’s older.

Know this witchy women: I have put the fear of God in my son … whatever things you do—or do not do–with your girlfriend are private. They are not for public consumption, or to be Tweeted, or Facebooked, or put up on Reddit or Snapchatted. If I ever hear rumors or see pictures, or hear any smearing of my son’s reputation or the smearing of his girlfriends’ (past or present), I will take names and kick ass. I’m not playing; I name names and point fingers, and will face down Satan himself if you mess with my child. Angry girlfriend parents won’t know what hit them. My former community health educators cautioned me that while boys often get the bad rap for being looser with sexual morals, it is the girls who often push the boundaries. Boys are so ingrained with caution nowadays that once a girlfriend gets on board, they let their caution dissolve. It takes two to tango, so everybody needs to make good decisions.

Just because my son has gonads instead of ovaries does not mean he cannot be hurt.
Yeah, believe it: boys have feelings, too. They have hopes and dreams and expectations, and their first girlfriends should not be manipulative bitches under the guise of “strong woman,” expecting my sentimental son to jump to do their bidding. Speak to him and say things to him that you want and expect him to say to you. He is not heartless and he is not aggressive; he has been raised to be a feminist, and believe me: he appreciates everything about what makes you a girl. I say again: I used to be a young woman. But I was raised by a single mother and learned early to stand up for myself, to know that I can earn my own keep, speak for myself, not expect a boy to fight my battles (or, to that point, fight for me at all). Compassion, empathy, trust, innocence and happiness are qualities that shine in my son, and they should be the things he finds in you. If they’re not, then you need to reevaluate yourself.

Make an effort to have a relationship with my husband and I.
If you are sneaking around out front with my son, dropping him off at the park and making him walk home, then we don’t trust you. When I drop off my son at your house, smile and say hi. When we invite you over for dinner, don’t wait until an hour after they start to have my son tell me you changed your mind. Girls will come and go, particularly during these teenage years, but my son is ours forever. We are fun people, and we love kids. We love our son’s friends, and we would love to like you. We make an effort; so should you.

Stay in touch … to this I focus on my son.
How simple is that? All you gotta do is text or call me to let me know what the plan is. If you’re supposed to be having lunch at a particular restaurant, then you better be there and coming home unless you get in touch to tell me the new plan. Sneaky travel is lying, and lying is never okay. In fact, lying at my house is the penultimate sin. Lying will get you grounded. And your technology taken away. And heavy, gut-wrenching, layered guilt.

Be nice to my son.
Bitches need not apply. I shit you not.

So are we hard to get along with? Not at all. Most people will tell you I’m actually very fun, and quite liberal and accepting. But I take no chances with my child, you know … the one with gonads. He is my gift from God. He is a vibrant, intelligent, FUN, Technicolor kid, and we hope he will be drawn to a partner who exudes the very same qualities.

Author: Dolly R. Sickles

Writer, mother, wife, adventurer, agent of change, advocate, ally, volunteer, instructor, and lover of chocolate. I write romance as Becky Moore, and children’s literature as Dolly Dozier. I'm a contributor with Frolic.Media, a book reviewer for BookPage, and I'm also an adjunct instructor in the Creative Writing Programs at Central Carolina Community College and Wake Technical Community College. And when I'm not writing or dreaming about writing, I'm out adventuring with my family.

2 thoughts on “Rules of Engagement for Dating My Son

  1. You are awesome! This should be on the front of every newspaper and site. You go girl!

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