Style and Substance: My son is nearing the age to begin dating

Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer

Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer

Dear style & substance:

I can see that my son is getting to the stage where he will want to begin dating. Do you have some advice on how to set some guidelines to avoid some of the difficulties of this rite of passage?

We’d like to begin by stating the not so obvious; dating is practice in having healthy relationships. If you have modeled a good relationship for your son, chances are he will have a healthy expectation. But, love being love; emotions are not always controllable. Setting guidelines about your expectations will support your son as he navigates the complexities of dating.

Sam: I'm sorry.

Suzy: Oh, it's okay!

Sam: I'm on your side.

Suzy: I know.

-Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is the story of Sam and Suzy, two young people in love; so in love they want to get married at Scout Camp. Sam and Suzy are twelve but they understand the fundamentals of dating and love: honesty and acceptance. Letting your son know how a partner should be treated will help him learn respect and kindness which will serve him well throughout life. Today’s young men and women have minimal expectations of how they should be treated and may consider relationships to be disposable. Being treated with respect, even if a relationship ends, gives both parties dignity. Remind your son to always speak well of his partner.

Getting too attached: Many people, regardless of age, lose themselves completely in love. Centering all of one’s energy on one person or one relationship is the opposite of a healthy relationship. Encourage your son to pay attention to school, activities, and friendships. Dating should enhance life, not cause undue stress. Keeping other relationships in tact will help him be balanced. This is important for you as well….don’t get too attached and think that the first girl will be the last.

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