My seventeen-year-old daughter has a boyfriend. This isn’t one of the many “boyfriends” she had when she was in junior high, the kinds of boys who came and went from her life as quickly as a bag of M&Ms disappears from my house.
I didn’t care for too many of the boys that my daughter liked during this period, and honestly, I was worried about her choices and what these kinds of boys meant for her self concept–and I think poor self concept is an issue that plagues many older adoptees.
Her first boyfriend turned out to be a real creep, and after they “broke up” (after being together all of three days), he and his friends taunted her, and made her life miserable at school. The second boyfriend attended anger management classes. ”But he’s never been mean to ME!” she said trying to assuage my anxiety. The third one was dealing with legal issues, which I discovered from a friend who works closely with social services in our community….Number 8 (or was it 9?) was living in the shelter.
I don’t want to sound judgmental about any of these kids because I don’t know their stories (except that first guy–I doubt I’ll ever have anything nice to say about him!) But one of the messages that I kept drilling into my daughter’s head back then was my belief that not too many thirteen- and fourteen-year-old boys are ready for the kind of “relationship” that she envisioned–especially the boys who are involved with the judicial system. I remained vigilant throughout the Junior High years trying to be aware of where she was, who she was with, and what she was doing as much as I could. And I continued to talk about the kinds of qualities that I thought she should be looking for. I reminded her of how unique and how special she was to have survived and flourished as she had. I also tried not to object too much to her choice in beaus fearing that my disapproval would only make whichever boy she was seeing that much more appealing.
We got through those difficult years, and I am happy to say that she is in a good (and real) relationship with a very, very nice young man, and they’ve been together for over a year now. That is not to say that they have not had some rough patches. Since he lives in another city, their long distance relationship has lead to some issues of trust. She gets jealous when other girls give him attention, and the same is true for him of her.
Dealing with trust with him has actually turned out to be a really good thing for the two of them as it has allowed the two of us to talk about this insecurity, and her struggle to trust me.
Five years ago, when all of these issues with boys were beginning to surface, I would never have guessed that I would be glad for all of the trouble we had with those early boyfriends. Funny how the two of us muddling through this very large and complicated arena of girls and boys has turned out to be such a positive experience!