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Dating Teens and Their Parents
Q: My 16-year-old daughter has begun to date. I'd like to meet the boy she's seeing, as well as his parents. When we meet, what questions should I ask them?
A: It's perfectly natural for you to wish to meet the boy your daughter's dating and to get to know his parents. I don't think, however, that you should plan on interrogating this young man and his parents with questions that will put them on the defensive. It's a good idea for you to get to know your daughter's friends (including her boyfriends) by inviting them to share meals and activities with your family and by letting them know that they are welcome and appreciated in your home.
I don't think that this young man should be asked what his "intentions" are regarding your daughter or made to feel like you're judging him. Behaving in this manner will surely cause your daughter embarrassment and probably cause her not to spend time with this boy in your home. As for getting to know the boy's parents: these kids have just begun dating, not planning their wedding. See how your daughter's relationship develops with this boy before scheduling a social activity with his parents. If you'd simply like to meet his parents because you think you'd all have a nice time together, invite them and their son for dinner. Don't focus your discussions on your children. You don't want to appear to be grilling them for information about the time your daughter spends with their son.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.