Rules For Dating My Daughter


Jul 22, 2015


At the age of two, my daughter once fell down, hands first, in a steaming pile of doggie-doo. “Shit happens,” snorted a young fellow next to me. I nearly punched him. Later my husband tried to calm me down as I web searched the gestation period for toxocariasis, “Don’t worry. She’ll be fine. This stuff happens to everyone. She’s growing up. There’s only more in store. You’re over reacting.” I nearly punched him.

Now she’s 14, and I have to worry about her falling in love. That’s another pile of a D-word. D-a-t-i-n-g. While it doesn’t promise the same symptoms as toxocariasis, I regard the possibility of my daughter dating with the same horror as I would anything that dropped out of a dog’s bottom. I schiz out between trying to avoid dealing with it and scouring the pavements/future for signs of it. And I am ready to throw my children in front of buses rather than have to deal with the aftermath of cleaning it off their shoes or out from under their nails. Or picking up pieces of their broken hearts.

So yes, dating.

I didn’t date. I know my fears about my daughter dating are the most obvious kind: sprung from ignorance and lack of experience. This is not about me, but my mum must have been so relieved that young men found me appalling. I don’t know if it was the home-haircuts, boots, the bikes, the inability to giggle at their jokes unless I actually found them funny, but no one ever asked me out. When at 20, my best friend did, I leapt at him and pretty much arm-wrestled him into marrying me four years later.

I suspect it won’t be like this for my daughter. Her mother’s crusty shyness genes can be overcome on social media. Warm-up conversations can be had with texting and social media. She may be more like my other friends who dated and had boyfriends.

So, I thought I’d develop a dating blueprint for her. But rather than dump it all on her at one go, I like to throw thoughts into normal conversation while we’re walking, passing strangers. Like, “Look at that boy, don’t ever date him.” “Not that boy either, nope.” “Harry Styles, now Harry Styles seems like someone with talent, experience and a reassuring love for his mother. When you are 16, you could date Harry Styles.”

Which brings us to Rules for Dating My Daughter, Number 1: Don’t even think about it until she’s 16. My pediatrician and I discussed the HPV vaccine, and the good doctor said, “No mama, we will give it to her at 16. Usually casual intimacy starts then.” So, I have to vaccinate her first.

The other rules are:

  • You have to have been her friend for at least a few months. I want to have met you, have you come over and sit on my sofa and chat while I eavesdrop shamelessly from the kitchen. For expert analysis, I will be texting my three sisters every word of your conversation, too, so keep it breezy and super bright.
  • You will never, ever make her lie to me. About where you’re going, what you’re doing or what flavor ice-cream she ordered. Mothers have a third eye. We will find out eventually and we’re not afraid to use our lasers.
  • You cannot be more than two years older than her. This rule actually even applies to Harry Styles but I’m willing to talk about it in six years when she is 20.
  • She will have a curfew. Respect that. Embrace it. Give it a cuddle. It’s the only contact I approve of, incidentally. And if she’s back home early, I will be much nicer to you. I cannot speak for her father.
  • You think social media is a great way to escape the parents? Well, honey, my generation invented social media and rest assured I will be stalking you. I am severely disapproving of boys who pout in their selfies, don’t wear shirts in their selfies, take selfies, or wear more cosmetics than I do. Especially hair product. If your hair looks like it takes more than a minute to be ready, I’m sorry, you’re out. (Again, I may make an exception for Harry Styles.)
  • If you tlk or txt lyk dis, 4g8 abt it.
  • You will never, ever, ever tell her what she can and cannot do, say or wear. Ever.

I know my daughter will eventually date someone. Maybe she will date someone after that. But I want her safe, respected, intellectually stimulated. I’d like to watch someone make her laugh, bring her books, music, food. Someone who will never be jealous of her success or try to stifle her.

I think she is perfect, but I want her to fall in love with someone who will make her even more so.

So, if any boy you know is reading this, please tell him to play by the rules. Also, read up the symptoms of toxocariasis*. Because I can induce at least some of those with just the power of my disapproval.

*seizures, respiratory issues, and eventual blindness.


Written By Genesia Alves

Genesia Alves is a writer who began her career as a journalist. She has also doubled-up as several Asian Age editors’ gopher, her Channel [v] production crew’s ‘emergency replacement presenter’, a late-night radio host on Go 92.5FM and development of new shows at BBC Worldwide, India (where she was also enforcer of women’s rights to good quality chocolate biscuits). This did little to prepare her for working from home around three children and a constant yearning for quiet time with an Earl Grey.


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