Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

To Date or Not to Date: That Is the Question

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

To Date or Not to Date: That Is the Question

Article excerpt

When I was in junior high, the slightest glance from the opposite sex made me want to become invisible.

All that changed the night of my eighth-grade graduation party - the first such boy-girl event I had attended. There I met my first boyfriend, an "older man," 15 years old to my 13.

I went from a shy girl who spent weekends at home to a full- fledged, boy-crazy teenager who spent Saturday nights dating. That first relationship was short, but it changed my life: I crossed over from nondater to dater. With no forethought or preparation, I was suddenly having to make judgments about whom to date and how to deal with a host of other boy-girl issues.

Thirty-plus years after graduating from eighth grade, I now have the dubious task of mothering a 13-year-old. Watching my son forge his way through what the school system now calls middle school, I kept my misgivings about junior high to myself and allowed him to experience this phase in his life without my prejudices.

This month my son graduates from eighth grade, and I'm panicking. My eighth-grade graduation party keeps replaying in my mind. I know my son is not me, but what if he follows my pattern and crosses the dating line this summer?

So far he has shown no interest in dating. In part because he, like me at that age, has not gained admittance into the inner clique. Boys with girlfriends hang out at one end of the cafeteria, he and his friends are at the other end. While I know being on the other side of popular is not easy, I believe he is better off not dating until he is older.

Fortunately, my husband, who didn't date until mid-high school, agrees.

Generally speaking, he and I are not overly controlling parents. But there are many potholes on the dating road. Physical changes and conflicting emotions mix with a lack of life experience. …

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