DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a teenage daughter, and my good friend has a teenage son. She has very different ideas about teens and dating than me. I think that it is natural for teenagers to be attracted to each other. Sometimes that turns into crushes and even dating. When monitored, teenagers going out and getting to know each other, going to events and spending time together seems normal to me. My friend says teens should not be allowed to date until they are over 16. She thinks it is distracting and dangerous.
While I am not naive, I do not think it is practical or wise to try to prevent young people who like each other from being around each other. I do think it is a parent’s responsibility to teach teenagers what they deem to be appropriate behavior. Do they always follow directions? No. But I believe that not allowing them to spend time together could be worse. How do I address this with my friend when we do not share ideals at all? -- At Odds, Dallas
DEAR AT ODDS: You do not have to come to an agreement with your friend over your parenting styles. It can be enlightening to learn about how other parents set boundaries and teach their children about the twists and turns of growing up, including the birds and the bees. Ultimately, though, you must decide what to teach your daughter and how to guide her steps. You can take comfort in being resolute in your approach. If and when you run into challenges, review them based on your values, not someone else’s.