Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A young girl’s checklist for a boyfriend

A young girl’s checklist for a boyfriend

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, March 1, 2005 12:52 AM

Part 1 of 2 parts

What do you do to prepare a youngster for those turbulent teen years when so many traps await them? How do you prepare a young person for those inevitable times when attraction to the opposite sex kicks in and things can easily get out of control?

We parents have our own opinions about how to approach such matters. I personally believe that I need to teach my daughters how to protect themselves from possible harm. There is, of course, much to deal with, but let me focus on just one aspect for purposes of this column: boy-and-girl relationships. Young people are naturally drawn to each other. We adults know exactly how easily teenage relationships can get awfully complicated.

One method I used with my daughters focused on getting them to have a clearer picture of the kind of man they should look for. It is, to my mind, useless to tell young girls not to fall in love. They will anyway. Better, I think, to help them have some firm convictions about the kind of person they believe can make them happy.

It is truly amazing how little people “in love” know about each other. Ask a person why he or she loves and you will usually get some very short answers. It is often difficult for lovers to conceptualize why they love the person they feel so good about.

So I asked my daughters to write down the qualities that they should look for in a man. This might not be as easy as it seems, but it works. By having a young person do this exercise, it causes her to think carefully about the kind of person she believes is best for her, instead of trying to grab the first good-looking guy who comes along.

Just the other day, I did some counseling with a pretty 14-year-old who looks more like an 18-year-old. It’s a potentially dangerous combination. In order to help her to better conceptualize the kind of man she would want (and make it more difficult for her to grab the first guy that comes along), I asked her to do the above-mentioned exercise. The result was remarkable in its scope and maturity. This young girl came up with 42 items, which I would like to share with you. Perhaps you might like to ask your own daughters (sons, too) to make their own lists and see what they come up with.

Here is what she wrote.

1. He should not be taking drugs.

2. He cannot be an alcoholic.

3. He should not be into smoking.

4. Gambling should never be a source of entertainment for himself.

5. Never should he physically hurt me at all. Not even just the flick of a finger.

6. He should be able to stand on his own two feet. Have goals in life that keep him stirring and working more and more to get to new places. I have no place for a bum in my life who will do nothing but eat out of my own accomplishments. Without me, he can stand, as well as I can stand without him.

7. Someone who doesn’t limit my growth. He should know how to support me, love me for growing up and not be insecure over my growing.

More tomorrow.


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