How Do We Leave Them?

“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?img_3215.jpg

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.


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.

Peace to you and yours as you navigate this prom season. May you leave all those you encounter today a little better than how you found them.

11 responses to How Do We Leave Them?

  1. Kristen Smith says:

    My son is only 11. I love your posts! I love that his date needs to be better for having gone on the date. Great advice. Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Denise Tolton says:

    Well my favorite blogger, one picture is worth 1,000 words. So he didn’t wipe his mouth with a napkin, BUT LOOK AT THE TOTALLY SURGICALLY SCRUBBED FINGER NAILS!!!! You must be doing SOMETHING RIGHT. PERFECT ADVICE. And you know what? Girls who value themselves will value this too. Talk about being made to feel like a person of worth! WOW! Just like our Jesus…leaving us all better than when He came.

    Sure do love your heart.

    Denise >

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love your writing!! You are so honest, transparent, and a great parent! I’ve often told friends, “you’re not doing your future daughter-in-law any favors”…but that is NOT true of YOU!
    Also love that your mom mentioned the “waist” error…me too.
    Your mom’s friend, Terry

  4. Given Breath says:

    I love Grammar police! And I also give you permission to tell me if I have spinach in my teeth! Thanks all….

  5. Helen says:

    Beautiful post! Living the high school years now. Thank you!

  6. leesachesnut says:

    Beautiful! We aren’t quite here yet but I love the line about leaving others better than we found them. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. amygreeson says:

    I absolutely love this! I have 2 daughters, 10 and 7, that I am trying to raise well. I am trying to teach them that if their dates don’t treat them like this, they need to turn around and come back inside; just as, if they don’t treat him well, he should take them back to the door and turn around and leave.
    I truly believe that respect for each other has been left out of much of the teaching by parents when it comes to dating.
    My husband and I dated 8 years before marrying and never lived together before-hand (very strange, I know, in this day and age).
    I commend you for trying to raise children into adults with morals and values that show respect for others and themselves. Thank you.

  8. Joan Page says:

    HI Kim, I love this post! (several points brought a smile and a chuckle out of me) My son is now 23 and married to his teenage sweetheart. I believe he was (and hopefully still is) the gentleman you described here…Giving our children (young adults) boundaries is so very important. Thanks for reminding all parents of this, and using good humor while doing it!
    Pages From Joan at

  9. Amy Mac says:

    As a “girl-mom” (two of ‘um, 14 and 16. Sigh.), it’s always a treat to take a peek into “boy-mom” world. I especially love reading how a faithful family is raising their boys to interact well with adults and treat their dates with respect. Two young girls I know will have the pleasure of reading this post today, with a little note from me that says “if he’s not doing this, then something’s missing!” I wrote the article below about dating a few years back, but it’s still applicable today … thanks for brightening my day with your wise words!

  10. Emily Wynsma says:

    I like this 🙂
    and as a just-married 27-year-old to the nicest and best and kindest and most respectful boy there ever was (age 28), I agree that having high standards will only benefit the girl and boy.

    One thing. I know I may be from a different culture in various ways (not from the south among other things)…
    but- possibly even more respectful… if he asks not just her father but her PARENTS what time they would like her home…

    Send the message to her that when she is a wife she will still deserve to be respected…

    Thanks for writing!
    (Wheaton 2010)

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