How wonderful it felt to have an "adult" who valued our opinion; thought we were not just cute but interesting. I was wearing a Bundeswehr tank top I'd gotten at an Army supply store and faded jeans, a thrift shop crucifix around my neck. But as we sat there together in the sunshine, the wine buzzing my head, I suddenly felt … All I had was my instinct and discomfort — a bad gut feeling. When I write novels, there is always a clear trajectory: the beginning, middle, climax, and end.My best friend was 14 when she fell in love with a 21 year old. My friend's older boyfriend was close with a guy I'll call T. My mother, spying him from the front window, asked me how old he was."I don't know," I said. After awhile, my friend and her boyfriend disappeared, leaving T. With real life, however, and memory especially, it is harder to keep things so neat and organized. In the first, I snuck out of the house with a guy friend who lived down the street. My friend came back, we went home and I slid back into my bed. The second incident I remember happened when he was giving me a ride home.There was something especially cool about being friends with them. "I don't want you hanging around with someone that much older than you.""Mom." I'm sure I rolled my eyes. ""So, no normal 20 year old wants to hang out with someone who is 15. Stay away from him."This was the sort of thing that always led to my leaving the room in a teary huff, maintaining loudly that she Just Didn't Understand. One Saturday, the guys planned a picnic in a nearby forest park. We had gotten in the habit of him driving me home, and my suddenly wanting to make different arrangements seemed to inconvenience everyone.We were still at an age where our parents insisted on treating us like children. Once again, she was treating me like a child, someone unable to make her own decisions. It didn't seem like such a big deal, as my best friend was doing nothing sneaking around to be with her boyfriend. Suddenly, I wasn't that scared, invisible girl anymore, watching from the sidelines. I remember it was a gorgeous fall day, crisp and cool, and the first time I'd had Brie cheese and red wine. Even worse, I couldn't say why I didn't want to go with him.If your daughter talks to him on Facebook, casually look at his profile while she’s online. When she goes out with him on a date, find out the details of the plan. Frequent dialogue is important whether your daughter is dating someone her own age or someone older. A shared interest in her happiness will strengthen your relationship so that if and when she determines she is in over her head, she will come to you.Wes: I have one simple rule on this subject: The older they are, the more perfect they have to be. Because of this, I was drawn to people like my best friend, who was dynamic and bold.She was the one who things happened to, the starting point of every story. He, in turn, went to find my friend and her boyfriend, who were none too pleased at having to leave so soon after we got there.
When they weren't doing BMX and skateboard tricks in front of the post office, they were spending what money they had at the nearby arcade, or spinning on stools and shooting straw wrappers in their favorite burger joint, just across the street. I grew to dread the moments we were alone, especially when I needed a ride home at the end of the night to make my curfew.
One open-ended question goes further than 100 closed ones. Once you show you’re on her side, she’ll be more open to your questions.
Find out what activities he’s involved in and show a genuine interest in at least one. Find out what he’s proud of and what’s difficult for him. You probably won’t find much information on a college student, but you never know. Ask her about where she stands boundarywise and whether he’s pressured her in any way.
And it can be even harder if the guy she has her eye on is older.
A 14-year-old dating a 17-year-old might be perfectly innocent but those who counsel adolescents warn that an age difference as little as three years can be cause for concern.