I am often asked what our dating *rules* are at the Humphreys house.
People seem to be fascinated that we have three teenagers at home while they usually only have one or maybe two. Almost seems like they are gloating that their family planning was better executed than ours.
Or maybe I’m just defensive about our lack of planning. Go figure. Yes, I’m tired. Is it showing?
PhilBillPaul and I have a list that we’ve
discussed at length made up as we’ve gone along this journey of parenthood.
Rule number one
No dating until they are 16.
It kept things simple and uncomplicated and we announced this rule early. I think we may have started chanting it when they started kindergarten.
The definition of dating for us is getting in a car and going somewhere without adult chaperones. We like to be crystal clear with our definitions because it seems that their full-time job is twisting our words, looking for loopholes and the Never Enough Syndrome.
We have strong, personal feelings that no adolescent needs to have a boyfriend or girlfriend any earlier. We’re still not convinced they need one at 16 but we’re trying to remember the joys of youth and a still-developing brain.
We did have a few *special* visitors at the house before they were 16. We even took them to a movie with us and that means we ALL went to the same movie and sat in the same row and everything.
It’s a real bonding time – double dating with your parents – they love it!
Okay, maybe not so much but I will say it gives you an idea of how interested the dating candidate is if they’ll go to a movie with you and your mom and dad.
(I can also spot a brown noser a mile away so that doesn’t work for me!)
Rule number two
The individual who would like to go on an actual date with a Humphreys teen must come to the house to meet the family and participate in what I like to refer to as “The Interrogation Dinner.”
Roger Leroy has given the dinner a more friendly name. She calls it “The Stupid Home Date” and places special emphasis on the word stupid.
The Interrogation Dinner involves sitting down to dinner with all of us. I make no secret that we will be conducting an interrogation and I tell the potential date just that.
These are just a few things we look for as we start the interrogation:
1) Do they make eye contact with us? That’s huge for me.
2) Do they speak clearly or mumble?
3) Do they answer our questions or try to dodge them?
We ask them to share things like:
1) Tell us about your family
2) Tell us about school…how are your grades, what classes you’re taking, etc.
3) Tell us about your job…you do have a job, don’t you?
We end with:
1) We’d like your cell phone number and who is your service provider?*
2) Spell your last name and what will we find if we Google you?
3) One of us usually says to the other, “Did you get their social security number?”
*Major bonus if they have the same cell phone carrier as your family. Or not. You’ll have to weigh this one carefully.
The girls spend lots of time during the dinner saying things like, “They’re just kidding.”
And we counter with a deadpan, “No, we’re not.”
We love to gauge their responses and stress levels. You can really learn a lot about a person over dinner. 🙂
We know it’s hard to hang at the Humphreys house and we want them to know what they’re getting into before they invest their time and money with one of our precious teens.
We end with:
Has _______ (insert teen’s name) told you we are absolute freaks about car safety?
To which Roger Leroy recently replied in a flat voice as she rolled her eyes, “Oh yeah, my mom was in a coma for like 11 days…”
The date candidate was duly impressed. He has completed the first phase of our approval and they’re in their 4th week of dating. Woo-hoo.
Bonus points if:
1) They are nice to Scary Baby and the wiener dogs
2) They interact well with the other siblings
3) They actually eat while we interrogate & don’t lose their appetite
Rule number three
The date must be planned in advance and no changes are allowed after they leave the house. Tell us where you’re going, who will be there and what time you’ll be home (within our pre-set curfew). They know that we will and we have shown up where they are suppose to be and they darn well better be there.
We really “go with our gut” and we’re not afraid to share that with the kids. There is a lot of intuition that plays into this. We have welcomed each guest who they have wanted to have over for “The Home Date” but they haven’t all passed with flying colors. We’re trying to teach them how to trust their intuition as well. Because sometimes that’s all you have. And sometimes that will save you in a bad situation. It may even save your life.
We’re no experts and have done plenty of things wrong and will continue to make mistakes. We will also continue to parent and make them abide by our rules while they live in our home.
Three rules. And somehow they still find ways to make it difficult. I know this is their job. To push us up against the wall and see if they can wear us out. I’m worn out. PhilBillPaul is worn out. Lucky for them, being worn out isn’t the same as giving up. We will not surrender!
Little Lesson (LL): There is no perfect system. Just be involved and get to know who they are with.
Share a Little Lesson (SALL): Please, please share your dating tips, rules, or thoughts here. We all need each other’s help!!