Passing it on

My fifteen-year-old daughter figured it out today: she is in love for the very first time.

This is about the third young man she's brought home since last summer. Thing One, the younger son of my best friend, is handsome, brilliant, and has a car and his own band. She was dazzled that a guy so amazingly talented and cute would be interested in her. But she gave him the gate after a couple months. “He didn't go out of his way for me. It's all about him, and I didn't ever once feel special.”

Thing Two came along a few months later. He was closer to her own age —blond, preppy, dimpled, and heading for a glorious career as a politician. We liked him, too: he was great company at the family dinner table. But he didn't last long, either. “Too much energy,” she said. “It's exhausting, like having a puppy around. He's just too eager all the time. He'll grow out of it someday—but I don't want to wait around for it.” I understood, completely.

One night after school, Thing Two dragged along his best friend, K, over for dinner. “What's the story with him?” I asked my daughter. Compared to Thing Two, K was quiet, intense, and extremely confident. There was something about this boy that was deep and special. Not only did he have whole lot of soul for a kid of just 15; there was also a quiet confidence in his bearing that this old wife recognized as the seed of a very special kind of man. “He's got a black belt in tae kwon do. He's the best writer in the class—his ideas are different, and he thinks for himself. When K talks, he's always got something to say. And he's never had a girlfriend, because he's looking for a real relationship, not just messing around.”

That was a month ago. Three guesses which guy finally caught the heart of our girl.

They went out on their first Real Date last night. (”We were talking last week, and I told K I thought we'd be good together,” she said. ”He just said: that would make him very, very happy—like he'd been waiting for me to realize it all along. And that was it.”) Today, she was chirping and burbling around the house all day (note that my long, cool drink of water does not chirp or burble—not ever).

”Mom, he's just exactly like (her stepfather)! I always feel so safe and taken care of when he's around—like I'm special to him, and he'd do anything to take care of me. He gives me his coat when I'm cold. He opens my doors. He pays for things. We had to wait at the bus coming home, and I felt totally protected. When we're together, he's completely focused on me. And he's got so much self-respect—I know he won't let me push him around. He's not like the other guys at all: I just feel like I can trust him with anything.”

Evidently, somewhere in the mountains between Vancouver and Whistler, they're still turning out young men who know (appropriately) how to take a young lady in hand. Who knew?

And my daughter, apparently, has not only found one—she had the great good sense to recognize that what he offered was something worth having.

Yeah, it's a first love. Looks like it's going to be a pretty solid and intense one, though, for however long it lasts. What strikes me, though, is the way she consciously set out to find someone who would give her what she'd seen at home—a boy who would make her feel as precious, protected, adored, and comfortable as her stepfather makes me (and her, too). She wasn't happy until she found a young man who could give her that same gentle leadership, along with that same encircling care.

I've been wondering for a while if, how, and when I'd broach the subject of our unusual marriage with my kids. Turns out we were teaching this stuff all along, without even saying a word.

Aurora (Mercuria)

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Criticism, and a question

While I can understand that your daughter's choice of a first boyfriend makes you happy, and that the story of her first date seems noteworthy from a 'taken in hand' point of view, I think it's inappropriate to share details of her personal life with us readers. I don't doubt your good intentions, of course, but I would rather not have read this piece, for that reason.

What you descrive does, however, give rise to an interesting question: Should we consider teenage and adolescent girls being taken in hand by their teenage and adolescent boyfriends a good thing?

I have to wonder...

why on both counts. One, she didn't give out names or anything, so why is this any different than any other story? Because it is a minor? She didn't tell anything that is inappropriate, I don't think.

Two, why wouldn't we be happy about a boy treating a girl the way she describes. It is debatable whether you would be happy about a teenage girl being in a *spanking* relationship, but that is not what she was talking about at all.


I'm not sure if it's a good t

I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not, but I don't think it's necessarily bad either. Teenagers are finding themselves and blossoming into the adults they will one day become. It makes sense that a teenage girl would begin to realize what she wants in a man and seek it out (especially if she sees it modeled at home), and that a teenage boy would already have views on how a lady should be treated and apply that to his girl friend.

Adolescent relationships are always risky. It's a charged and fragile time of life. As long as this young lady is being treated with respect what does it matter if the relationship mirrors taken in hand? Some people figure out early what they want. I found my first "love" in the first grade. I thought he was great because he used big words and at the tender age of six already held doors open for ladies (all ladies..teachers, fellow students, etc.). There are still times I wonder what ever happened to him.

It sounds like this young lady has a good head on her shoulders, and a mother who is involved, and whom she trusts with information about her love life. I think this minimizes the risk that her young man will become too pushy.

I don't think it was inappropriate

I don’t think your post was inappropriate at all. It is completely anonymous and really not that much detail, just enough to make your point.

Mercuria, your post gives me hope that my kids will view my husband’s place in the house and see that it is healthy, and an option for them to live their lives this way if they choose.


Still happy with each other after 23 years

I don`t know if my daughters would choose a Taken in Hand relationship, if they would I wouldn`t have anything against it as long as they are happy. What they are very much aware of is that my husband and I still enjoy each other's company and are still happy with each other after 23 years and I hope they learn from it.
I see no reason why a 15 year old girl shoudn`t choose a boyfriend who takes her in hand. If she feels protected and taken care of, what`s wrong with that? I'd rather have my daughters go out with a guy who will watch and protect them than some geek who doesn`t know what he wants.

That was a very sweet story

That was a very sweet story.
Glad to see another vancouverite in these parts.
I have to say the thing that touched me most about your story was that it reminded me so much of my guy and what he may have been like at 15.
Oh how many times have i wished i knew him back then, too many to count.
I hope one day i will pass on to my daughter the knowlege of what being loved and respected truely is too.
Good for you.


It's about standing firm


I fear you are confusing controlling with taking in hand. Of course, a teenage girl should be steered away from a controlling boyfriend but what was related was a story about a girl finding a boy who will stand firm.

Many young girls need to know there are boys who have substance rather than bravado. Why should this be kept secret?

It appears example is the strongest advice. Congratulations for raising a daughter who values substance over flash.


Depends on the kind of girl she is. My daughters did not have a boyfriend until they had gone away to university. Perhaps English girls have relationships later than in the US, so I never was in your position, but now that they do I am sure their personalities differ from mine. I am very submissive and some women are and some aren't.

Your daughter clearly likes the personality type she has found. If she were a dominant assertive girl who would like to take control of a man then I am sure she would have found a different kind of boy and you knowing she was like that would appreciate the kind of boy that would suit her. I think our children can usually sort that out for themselves without any need for parents to share details of their relationship or even sexual preferences which I regard as very private.

What I would regard as fundamentally and morally wrong would be making children think women whether submissive or not must always be submissive to men, not study, not get jobs, as if that were one rule which applies to the world.