I'm glad that my kid is dating.
No, really, I am. He has traveled a long, challenging, carefully crafted road toward young adulthood, and we didn't work this hard just to freak out and get possessive and controlling at the moment he dares to carve out a personal life of his own.
We didn't raise this fine young man just to pretend that he's on a high shelf for no one else but parents and family members to appreciate and admire.
But if it's up to me, the person who chooses to be with my kid romantically won't be just anyone.
They'll need to have their act together. They can't rely on their beauty, education, intellect, or social status to win my vote.
I know I have no business making a list. But a mom can be hopeful, right?
So to any young person who wants to date my son, here's what I hope you will be:
1. I hope you'll be yourself.
Be comfortable enough to be exactly who you are. Whoever you are around your closest friends should be the same when you're around him. Do not feel the need to act differently when you're with him--whether it's acting more mature, more bubbly, more intellectual, more adventurous, or more reserved. You don't need to change for anyone.
2. I hope you'll be honest.
Be honest about everything that matters -- what you feel, what you like, what you don't like, what you want. Honesty really is the best policy, and I don't mean with just him. Be honest with yourself, more importantly.
3. I hope you'll be self-confident.
You likely did not get his attention with your fashion sense or makeup artistry, so stop by to say hi in your sweatpants. Let him see you after an exhausting day at work or school when you cannot be bothered to "get ready." Your inner beauty outshines your best efforts to be pretty, hot, handsome, or sexy, and you know this.
4. I hope you'll be self-aware.
I hope you know yourself better than you know anyone else. Recognize what upsets you, what makes you happy, what you're bad at, what you're great at, and what you're still learning (about yourself).
Don't let this relationship define you. Let it enhance and inspire who you already are.
5. I hope you'll be responsible.
Be grateful and excited that you live in an era when everyone can unabashedly do their thing. If you feel stifled, stuck, or discontented in this relationship, you are the only one who can change that.
Your happiness and comfort are your highest priorities. Do not ever forget that, no matter how deeply you care for him.
6. I hope you'll be realistic.
You have your whole life ahead of you. Don't make this relationship the center of your life. Do live in the moment. Revel and dwell in the joy that a new relationship brings. But make space for the friends, interests, and priorities you both had before you knew each other.
7. I hope you'll be patient.
You're both young. There's no guidebook or precise formula for the perfect relationship. You're both going to fall short of each other's expectations sometimes, and you're going to continually learn so many things about yourself. 20 years from now, I hope you'll remember this advice and think, hmm, that's still true today (well, maybe except for the part about being young).
I wish someone had told me these things when I started dating.
All too often, a young person's world gets wrapped around their adoration for someone, and before they realize it, they can lose so much of what makes them who they are and it can be hard to see which direction is up.
Don't lose yourself to gain the attention of a boy, even if he is my son.
You are far too precious. And if you don't believe me, ask the people who love you the most. They'll say I'm right. They adore you just the way you are right now, like my son does.