My teen has met a young fella that she really seems to like. She’s not the giggly type, but I see that smile that comes across her face whenever I ask about him. When I finally built up the nerve (I get accused of prying a lot) to ask if they were officially a couple, she informed me that they had not been talking long enough to have that conversation but she felt they were headed in that direction. The young man seems nice enough, but, since I haven’t received the “commitment notice” I am still observing him from a distance trying to figure out if I am going to welcome him into her life, or, do everything in my power to make him vanish into thin air (I’m joking… just a little bit).

I would love to take the easy way out and tell my teen she is too young to begin dating so that I can continue to protect her from the roller coaster that comes with opening your heart to someone.  But, the reality is she is a 17-year-old high school senior.   Wanting to date and have a boyfriend is NORMAL!   And I want to be a part of that journey.

So, I have been thinking about all of the things I did, or didn’t do, said, or failed to say as my 25-year-old was navigating through the world of dating and young love.   While there is some advice that I will continue to give, I realize some of my thoughts and feelings have evolved.

  1. I will not let my fear of pregnancy paralyze me so much so that my daughter doesn’t feel comfortable talking to me about her relationship. I know I am not the only parent that becomes somewhat fixated on teen pregnancy when their kids start dating.  At times the fixation on pregnancy avoidance causes us to ignore matters of the heart.

This time I am definitely still going to talk about it, but it will not be my focus.  I will include talks about emotions and feelings that come with dating and falling in love.

  1. I will spend less time on the “independent woman” speech and more time telling her it is okay to open her heart.   Yes, Yes, Yes, as a young mom, I think all of my “anti-pregnancy speeches were followed up with the “independent woman” speech.  Get your education, focus on your career, be able to take care of yourself, and do not depend on a man to take care of you.

Sure, I still strongly believe that women should be able to take care of themselves.  But, sometimes, I think that we are reinforcing this so much that we make our girls so guarded that they are never truly able to open themselves up to love.

This time I will talk to my teen about balance.  Yes, of course, being an independent woman is a good thing.  But, independent women want, and deserve, love too.

  1. Daughter, DO NOT lose yourself in the process of dating. I have always had a fear of my girls becoming so wrapped up in their relationships that they give up all of their hopes and dreams, all in the name of love.  I still believe that you can follow your dreams while experiencing love.  And I think it is important to have a partner that supports you as you pursue your dreams.  If you find yourself in a situation where your partner is pressuring you to choose, then it probably time to reevaluate the relationship.
  2. Daughter, make sure you love yourself before you try to love someone else. It is impossible to be in a healthy, loving relationship if you do not love yourself.  BOTTOM LINE!
  3. Daughter, LOVE is a WONDERFUL THING. If you do happen to fall in love, please know that healthy LOVE is a wonderful thing and feels ohhhh, sooooo wonderful! Enjoy it and appreciate it.

Please share your teen love advice! I would love any help I can get!


Peace and Love


Published by Tonza D. Ruffin

Perfectly Imperfect but VERY PROUD WOMAN, MOM, LAWYER, and AUTHOR, but most importantly...LIFE LOVER! I laugh loud, I work hard, I play hard, I am adventurous, I am curious, I am driven, I have moments of deep insecurity, I am loving, I am vulnerable, I am explosive (not one of my finer qualities), I dance around my house alone, I am an awful perfectionist which makes my insecurity worse, I sing out loud in my car without any concern for whose watching, I have trust issues, I do not live through my children, I no longer try to force my children into the mold that I created so that I could feel validated as a mother, I am a risk-taker, I am guarded in my personal life, I am kind, I am grateful. I am so excited about the rest of my life!

5 thoughts on “I SAW THAT SMILE ON YOUR FACE, AND IT’S OKAY -My Teenager is Dating!

  1. That’s teriffic advice, Tonza! But as the Grandmother of your teen and retired principal of the Adolescent Parenting Program for pregnant and parenting teens, I hope that you don’t mind me giving the “pregnancy” talk (lol)! I will do a lot of praying for her too as I did when her aunt was a teenage! This is definitely a journey!r.

  2. Oh My T! The first thing that come to my mind is “Thanks God for little boys!” LOL….. I do not have any advice but I am sure that she is going to be just fine. You are an amazing mother and more than that you are an amazing woman. Coming from a family FULL of INDEPENDENT WOMEN, it would be so very hard for me to be able to give advice to a little girl. There are days that I am grateful for those lessons of strong women and other days that I wish I could have found some type of balance with being independent and enjoying the moments when I did not have to be independent! She will be fine. You got this!!!!

  3. I love your expose on balance, as being an “independent” woman has become an enigma to the point that it’s left a lot of women INDEPENDENT. A man will not compete for the affection of a woman when he is not valued, respected, or made to appear 2nd, or 3rd in a relationship.

    Culturally, I think the enigma of being an independent woman has paralyzed the Black Community, as it’s a construct of feminism. But I digress;nonetheless, a father preparing to send his daughter off to college, I keep it real whIle being real.

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