“How can I talk to my daughter about her dating life without making her uncomfortable?”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Kirsten & Lucy
Here’s the quick answer: You can’t—at least not at first. I surveyed a number of friends and relatives about this topic, and we all agreed—kids have a hard time talking to their parents about this stuff (and vice versa). Gay or straight, teens are working to develop identities separate from their parents, establishing new boundaries about what they’re willing to share about their private lives. This can sometimes mean that the child who couldn’t stop talking about EVERYTHING seems way too quiet all of a sudden.
All that being said, you need to let your daughter know that you are open to talking about her relationships. But instead of peppering your daughter with a million questions, try to take it slow, and let the conversations unfold. (This is a total “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” piece of advice, by the way. Just ask Lucy – we call it the “Mom-quisition.”) Try talking about what your dating life was like as a teen. What made you nervous? Happy? Excited? I think it’s important to talk about what you want for your daughter in any relationship—that she’s cared for and happy and safe. And ask her what she wants in a relationship. What makes her happy about the person she’s dating? Keep the lines of communication open. You may not get a lot of information all at once, but over time, when she knows that you are interested and supportive, you may be surprised by what she’ll share.
A final tip: I think the car is a perfect place for these kinds of talks—it’s a pretty intimate space, but something about the relative lack of face-to-face contact makes it easier to have conversations like this.
as an exceptionally queer kid (and a relatively young one), it’s pretty dang hard to find people to date. for the most part, i don’t want to date my friends who are queer, and outside of that group, it’s difficult to find other peers who are any kind of gay. while i don’t speak for all queer teens, i find this pretty irritating, as i want nothing more than to find a cute girl to hold hands and watch orange is the new black with.
while dating may be hard for teens for lots of reasons, i also think that it’s hard for any parent to have a kid in the dating world…and if the kid is queer, that has the potential to make it even harder, especially if the parent is uninformed about queer issues and the complications that come with openly queer relationships.
i have had the exceptional privilege of having very supportive parents who are also pretty well-informed (mostly due to my almost nightly rants about social issues), and in my dating experience (i.e. one pretty terrible relationship), the most important thing is to make sure you are able to have communication with the other party about what either of you may find challenging regarding the relationship.
i know that kids HATE talking to parents about relationships, and i know that a lot of the time, parents find it awkward to talk to their kids about dating and safety in dating, but that’s got to happen between any parent and their dating child. in summation…parents: make sure your kid knows what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and make sure they know that they have to keep themselves safe. kids: tell your parents what they need to know, and make sure you obey any guidelines or restrictions they give you. believe it or not, parents sometimes know stuff.
I’m Kirsten. I’ve been married to Richard for 20 years (!) and in addition to Lucy, we have 2 dogs and 4 ¾ cats (one of them only has 3 legs!). I work full-time at a non-profit social services agency. I’m basically addicted to Instagram and I love to read, bake, and make art. I’m dying to get a new tattoo. Suggestions? Find me on Instagram or Twitter @kjerstieb.
I’m Lucy, I’m 15, I’m queer, and I have a real passion for making sure that dogs know they are loved. I post stuff on instagram @yung_olson
Photo by Neal Santos
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