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A Mom's 8 Rules for Dating Her Daughters

Photograph by Getty Images

We’ve all seen those ‘Rules For Dating My Daughter’ lists. Most of the ones I’ve seen are written by dads and emblazoned on T-shirts, mugs and beer coolers and send the same basic message: Touch her and I’ll punch you in the face.

There’s also the ‘Feminist Dad’ version that says the daughter calls all the shots, but I’m not quite ready to go there. As a mom with teen girls who are dating, I’ve got my own set of rules that fall in between these two extremes. I don’t think it’s necessary to inflict bodily harm if I catch them hugging a boy on the couch, but I’m also not ready to send them out for the evening with just a wave and a request that they write me when the baby arrives.

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1. Listen to them

I’ve raised my kids to be thoughtful, smart, funny human beings, so please listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to laugh at all of their jokes, although I think they’re pretty freaking funny. (Their dad and I don’t blame you if you have to tune out their sometimes unrelenting, biting sarcasm, though—that’s entirely our fault.)

2. Don’t text and drive

I assume you already know this, but a little reminder couldn’t hurt. I want to know that my girls are safe when riding with you, and I expect them to follow the same rules when they’re behind the wheel. (Because you are going to let them be the driver too, right? Yes, this is a test.)

3. Respect their curfew

Call me old-fashioned, but I want them home before the late-night informercials start running on my TV, especially on a school night. It would warm my cold, inflexible heart if the two of you would make this happen so I could watch "Suzanne Somers 3-Way Poncho" in peace.

4. Talk to us

I really want to get to know the person our daughters are spending 95 percent of their time with, so a little conversation goes a long way. When we’re out to dinner and their dad and I ask you how your vacation was and you shrug and say, “Totes,” it makes us regret your $18 pasta we are paying for.

5. Know what their passions are

Read what they’re writing, watch what they’re making, listen to them singing—it’s an important part of who they are.

I’m proud to be parents to these creative, talented souls and nothing makes me happier than knowing they’re being appreciated. Read what they’re writing, watch what they’re making, listen to them singing—it’s an important part of who they are. I know they’ll return the favor—you might finally have found someone who truly respects your collection of first edition Spider-Man comics.

6. Don’t be jealous

My girls are social. Getting jealous of their friendships with other boys—or of their time spent away from you—will send up tons of those glaring, bright red relationship flags.

They’ve seen enough chick flicks to know that Ryan Gosling always gets the girl while the jealous boyfriend ends up alone playing video games in his garage. Don’t be that guy.

7. Don’t try to change her

It sounds cliché, but if you can’t like each other for who you are, it’s time to move on. She shouldn’t have to play coy around your friends or act like she can’t eat that entire Chipotle burrito for your sake. Conversely, you shouldn’t pretend to know how to hot-wire a car, or that you don’t like Reese Witherspoon movies.

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8. Don’t lie

This one should speak for itself. I’m talking about the lies that could really hurt feelings, damage trust or endanger one’s health or safety. Not the little ones, like saying you’re on your way over when you’re really sitting in your underwear eating cereal. (Because who doesn’t do that?)

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