I have a bit of a rant for you tonight.
You’ve probably seen the silly “Rules for Dating my Daughter” lists floating around the interwebs over the years. “I’ve got a shovel and a big back yard,” etc. I don’t think I ever paid much attention to them. I might have laughed or given a hearty “you know it!” including a sassy head swivel that hasn’t actually been cool since the mid-nineties when I learned it from “In Living Color.” A new-to-me version showed up on my Facebook wall today. (Can we talk later about how Facebook makes me feel stabby lately and if I see one more ‘Like if you love Jesus. Scroll down if you love the Devil’ post I might develop a nervous tic. Don’t tell me what to do. The other day I saw a picture I thought was cute and I almost clicked the Like button but then I noticed the big “Like if it’s cute” text on the photo and I was all “YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”)
That’s probably part of why this new version of the dating rules list affected me so strongly today. The other part is harder for me to admit. I have always chaffed when people shook their heads, smiled and patronizingly suggested, “You’ll understand when you have kids someday.” I still don’t totally buy that thought process all the time but here I am having a freaking different reaction to something partly because I’m a mom now. A mom to a little boy.
This is what a friend of mine shared today.
I want to be clear that I’m not passing judgement on my friend. I see why she shared it and why she thought it was funny. I see more than just the easy humor in the list, though. I see a lot of crazy with a dash of misogyny thrown in. Maybe it’s funny to read, but how scary would it be to actually have someone tell you “I know how to avoid jail?” Or to be dating a guy whose mom keeps telling you that she can make you go away and that your opinion doesn’t matter? It’s funny in the way “Everybody Loves Raymond” made people laugh but they would have been miserable to live with some of those relationships in real life.
I couldn’t get it off my mind as got Samuel down for bed tonight. I absolutely do not want my relationship with his future girlfriends to look like that and I definitely would not want to be giving that type of example for him to follow. So here are MY rules for anyone wanting to date Samuel someday. I’m assuming this list is aimed at Junior High and High School girls since I find the thought of a mother having these kinds of rules for a grown man to be creepy and bizarre.
NON-CRAZY RULES FOR DATING MY SON
- While he lives at home with us, our son will be required to work within a basic budget to give some, save some and spend some of whatever money he earns. If he wants to use his spending money to shower you with gifts, that’s up to him. If he runs out of money to buy his clothes and pay for his hobbies, that’s his problem. Sometimes budgeting is a hard lesson to learn. But, if he’s anything like his father or me he’s probably going to be a cheap one. So get ready to be on the receiving end of flowers he picked in a field on the way to your house instead of a dozen roses.
- If you show up to my house and I hear my son judging you or any other girl based on what you are wearing, then he won’t be going anywhere because he’ll be at home writing an essay about how words like “slut” and “whore” and “looking like a stripper” contribute to a culture of rape and explaining why we don’t use them in our home.
- If I see any “sexts” on his phone (coming or going), you will both find yourselves sitting on my couch having a conversation with my husband and me AND your parents that I’m pretty sure you will find extraordinarily embarrassing. Also, phones will get taken away. And if you are under 18 and you send a nudy picture, it’s child porn. No. Really.
- Understand that if I don’t like you it doesn’t matter. I’m not the one dating you.
- Understand that I could make you leave our house, but I know that I can not be with my son every second of every day monitoring who he interacts with and I wouldn’t want to be. So, no, I will not try to ‘make you go away.’
- My son is not a “Mama’s boy.” He’s a young man with a healthy, respectful relationship with his mother. That’s a good thing for you. It means he’s been raised to treat women nicely and has someone to make sure he doesn’t buy you something ugly for Christmas. You’re opinion on what kind of relationship he has with other people absolutely matters. How he interacts with other people tells you what kind of man he will become. You do not need a ring on your finger to give your opinion value!
- You are not in charge of anyone but yourself and it will cause you nothing but heartache if you try to change other people. If my son isn’t the guy for you, that’s ok. It doesn’t reflect poorly on either one of you. Find a guy you don’t need to see as a project.
- He is a gentleman. His father and I taught him that. He will treat every girl and woman he meets as a lady because they all deserve it. If he behaves otherwise, don’t you put up with it!
- I’m not going to threaten you with thinly veiled suggestions of violence. That’s insane. If a grown-ass woman threatens you or even implies a threat, go immediately to your parents, a trusted adult or a teacher and let them know.
- Do not fake your way to any type of relationship. No one will end up happy. Who you are is enough. My son has grown up in a home that deeply values authenticity, so I hope he is able to tell when people are being fake so that he can avoid them. You are a little young to be worried about trying to get a ring on your finger but, if you do end up married to my son, you will be one lucky woman to get a man who respects women and to have a mother-in-law as cool as I am.