Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here’s this week’s about teenage dating–and interviewing your daughter’s date!

My two most precious possessions didn’t lose value in the latest market crash. In fact, they can’t even be converted into cash. They’re the two blonde haired girls who were once babies, but who are now starting to inch above me. And you had better believe that I am going to make sure that they stay safe.

Which is why, before they ever go out alone with a boy, that boy is going to have a little talk with my husband.

Perhaps that sounds archaic, but I have never really understood why parents would let their daughters venture out with complete strangers. You wouldn’t lend your car to just anyone, so why let your daughter go out with just anyone?

Now Keith and I aren’t mean. We’ve investigated this fully and we think we’ve come up with a plan for interviewing our daughter’s date. We’ve sifted through some “applications to date my daughter” off the internet, but I have to admit some were just a tad over the top. For instance, one said: “In an essay of at least 700 words, explain what the word “no” means.” I’m sure 400 words would be sufficient.

And we’ve fully investigated the country songs advocating this approach, too, and while we agree with the sentiment, we’re not entirely comfortable saying, “Y’all go out and have some fun. I’ll probably be up all night, still cleaning this gun”, since we don’t actually own a gun. A baseball bat will have to do.

So we’re still trying to perfect our game plan, because it’s important to set the right tone before a boy gets too close to one of our daughters.

He has to know that we care deeply for our girls, and we expect any boy that comes near them to treat them with respect, too.

She can’t be just a plaything to you, someone to have fun with and then toss aside. You need to care for her heart, respect her body, and get her home on time. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Am I putting all the responsibility on the guy, and then absolving my daughters? Of course not. My girls know what we expect of them.

But I want to make sure the boys know it, too.

I know a man who has interviewed all four of his daughters’ dates for over a decade now. He just walked the last daughter down the aisle. And he found interviewing those boys to be a very positive experience. It was calling out the boys to be men. It involved saying, “If I’m going to trust you, you need to be trustworthy. I need to know the character behind the long hair.” And many boys seem to transform before his eyes from the tough exterior to a real, thinking man.

Another friend used this strategy when his daughter began seriously dating. The young man in question approached him in trepidation, and they sat down and started chatting. Dave asked him about his plans for the future, and told him what he thought about his daughter, and relationships, and life in general. At the end of the talk, the young man, now much more relaxed, asked one last question. “Mr. Black?” he said. “Do you think we could talk like this again sometime?” His dad had left when he was eight, and it had been a long time since he had talked about stuff that mattered with an adult male.

Teenagers are silly. They’re often irresponsible. They don’t always think of the long-term consequences of their actions. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be called out to be greater.

By showing them that we expect great things, we’ll make a big impact.

Or at least, hopefully, we’ll scare off the undesirables. I had better go get that bat out of the attic.

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