I was talking to a teenage patient the other day about her new “boyfriend”. She is 16 and a really beautiful, well adjusted and accomplished teen who is also what I like to call an “easy teenager”. She does well in school, is involved in both school and church activities and pretty much “tows” the line in terms of doing what her parents ask and/or expect of her. She has lovely manners, goes to bed on time and even eats vegetables! She also happens to be an only child.
I have taken care of this delightful young woman since her birth, and she has equally wonderful attentive parents. But, when I asked about her boyfriend and what her parents thought she replied “well, they don’t really like him”. I asked her specifics about the boyfriend and he too sounded like a great kid. They went to the same school but had actually met at church. I asked her if they “went out” and if so where, but she said they were only allowed to see each other at school and church. Her parents wouldn’t let her do anything else.
I asked if she had him over for dinner or to watch a movie? She also replied that her parents wouldn’t let her. This seemed to be a bit “restrictive” and I thought her parents would like to have him around to get to know him. I always wanted to have “the friends that were girls” (the jargon we used for our sons new girlfriends) over as I loved having the house where the kids would hang out. It also allowed me to meet their friends and “eavesdrop” a bit as well. I kept cookie dough ready to bake at any time as another way of “luring” them to our house. Worked most of the time, but my sons would tell you I hung around too much!
At any rate, I asked my patient if it would be okay to bring up her boyfriend when her parents came back in the room after her exam. She said “sure”, and actually her Dad was with her that day. Her Dad and I chatted about the boyfriend and then I asked if she might be able to have him over. Her father actually got a puzzled look on his face, as if he hadn’t really thought about it before. I pointed out what a wonderful teenager he was raising, who was making such good choices and wanted to abide by their rules, but she also wanted to spend some time with this young man. Her father listened and seemed open to the idea. It wasn’t that he didn’t “like” the boy, he didn’t even “know” him.
He smiled at me and as he was leaving he said, “I guess I didn’t realize she was ready for this, I guess I need to get ready too!” Hard to see your one and only baby growing up, but he should be proud of how well she is doing it.