“Remember to ask your date’s parents what time they would like their daughter home – and then tattoo that minute on your brain.”
My seventeen-year-old son and I were seated at the kitchen table after school. I was watching him inhale a stack of frozen waffles as if he’d just returned home from war. “And PLEASE take smaller bites – a python would be jealous.”
We were there discussing his updated weekend plans which now included: a homecoming date, finding a purple bow-tie, and assembling a Texas-sized mum that would cost no less than nine-thousand dollars and ten years of his mother’s life. I’m kidding about the nine-thousand dollars.
“What if her parents don’t care when she gets home, mom? What if she doesn’t have a curfew?” I notice he was wiping his chin with his shirt and I quietly died a thousand etiquette deaths. “They can’t possibly know I’m the only guy in school who still has to be home by midnight.”
I held out a napkin. “Honey, we (er, your dad) always wait up for you and I expect her parents do the same. Midnight is reasonable and respectful to all parties. There will be times when we might make an exception, but this Saturday will not be one of them.”
Long pause. “Are there any more waffles?
If you have young adults still under your care, how are you helping them navigate the current dating landscape? As parents, how can we nurture a dating ethos that cares well for all the people involved? How do we establish helpful boundaries that are drawn with wisdom and not fear?
I’m not entirely sure. But now that prom season is now upon us, here are some basic fundamentals to possibly revisit as you prepare for the big night.
1. Drive up her driveway very slowly and very quietly. I’m talking grandma speed and library quiet.
PS. Don’t EVEN DREAM of honking the horn and waiting for her in the driveway.
2. Park carefully and strategically because at some point you will actually need to leave.
*PS. Negotiating a twenty-two point turn while your date’s parents are watching is nerve-wracking for all. Even worse, backing over a prized rose garden (while your date’s mother weeps at the window) will truly hamper an otherwise pleasant evening.
1. Take a deep breath and ring the doorbell. Try not to think about your date’s father or older brothers on the other side.
2. Shake hands and look all the people in the eye. Greet your date’s mother especially pleasantly and kindly. Maybe compliment the rose garden you noticed while parking EVER-SO-CAREFULLY on the other side of the driveway?
3. If asked a question, please be sure to have something interesting to say in response.
4. And as best you can, try to speak clearly and without the excessive use of “like” or “stuff” or “you know”.
5. Call HIM sir and HER ma’am. Even if you mix it up because you’re wildly nervous – it will still be endearing.
6. Ask a follow-up question, and be prepared to stand in the kitchen and visit for a while.
*PS. IGNORE YOUR DATE AT THIS POINT! She is so lovely in her purple dress, but don’t be tempted by her not-so-subtle hints to bolt!
*PPS. If anything, be so chatty that the parents must politely usher you out the door -they weren’t expecting a summit after all.
7. Ask your date’s parents what time they would like their daughter home. If she doesn’t have a curfew, then let them know that she’ll be home well before midnight.
*PS. Be prepared for a potential bear-hug from both parents at this point. They can’t believe they will actually be able to get in bed before midnight!
8. Walk your companion to the car and tell her she looks beautiful. NOT ‘hot’.
9. Open her door and close it gently after checking that all clothing, elbows, and purses are safely tucked in.
*PS. A trip back into the house for any form of first-aid, or wardrobe malfunctions, would be very unfortunate at this point.
THE MAIN THING
10. But the most important thing to remember is this: From start to finish treat your date in such a considerate manner – a manner that consistently respects her body, mind, and soul – that she returns home even better than when you picked her up.
*PS. And please remember your napkin.