A Mother’s Guide To Daughter’s Suitors or Boyfriend

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(This is a post I originally wrote in 2008. )
me and daughters1

When my two girls were in grade school, I’d often hang out with the mommies at the waiting shed, eagerly waiting for our daughters’ class dismissal. We called each other “classmates”. Starting from nursery till sixth grade, I had my gang of mothers. In one of our idle talks, we compared child rearing practices. One of these was handling our daughter’s suitors and request for parties once they reached high school. The topic was met with dread and fear of our daughters mixing with the wrong crowd or better yet, having a boyfriend at so young an age. I formulated my own set of ideas which proved to be a learning experience.

This is not a definitive guide for Filipina mothers since we each impose our own peculiar guidelines for our daughters but maybe you can pick up a tip or two. For the guys, it is a preview of the twisted mind of a typical mom and her feelings towards their daughters’ suitors. With Lauren’s permission to illustrate examples, here are my own guidelines.

1. Just because she is your daughter doesn’t mean she is like you.

I had this notion that my daughters shouldn’t have a boyfriend while in high school, the same way my parents brought me up. I made my rules clear : No dating till 18 years old but you can entertain phone calls, visitors and attend parties.

I thought I was a liberal mother. I mean, look, I still gave freedom for my daughters to mix with guy friends and hang out with them. But then, I learned something much later on. There are two types of teen girls. There is the ligawin, the feminine, charming, smart girl and the suplada, the girl (like me) who likes guys but do not appear charming to them.

One of my girls fell into the ligawin category.

When my twelve year old girl started receiving phone calls from guys, her dad warned me that she might be like his sister who had a boyfriend in high school. I brushed Butch fears away.

No, she won’t have a boyfriend because like me, I didn’t need to have a boyfriend in high school.

There was a NO BOYFRIEND rule imposed and the girls knew that. I thought it was clear.

Until one afternoon…I received a phone call if I could “supervise” the times my daughter and her son were together in either of our homes. I raised hell there and then and started yelling at my daughter to come to the phone. Oh yes, I screamed, to put it mildly. Being a control-freak mother at that time ““NO OFFENSE ON YOUR SON, BUT MY GIRL CAN’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND.” My voice sounded a notch higher than usual.

I started rattling off that my husband would raise hell if he found out she had a boyfriend. I never told Butch that her daughter had a boyfriend. She was only 15. Livid with anger, she was grounded the whole summer.

2. Never set rules in stone. Be flexible.

When I look back at this incident, my anger was not because Lauren had a boyfriend. I was mad that she betrayed my trust. In my anger, I refused to be flexible. Maybe, I should have agreed to the “supervision”. Did it destroy my relationship with her? I guess it did. I felt that it strained our mother-daughter relationship for a long time. I should have sat down with her and set the boundaries of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

Looking back, I don’t have regrets. The boyfriend was a delinquent who kept flunking his classes in high school. The parents eventually sent him to the states. I believe it would not have worked out in the end because my girl was serious with her studies. I met the ex-boyfriend in my home a few years ago. Well, he looked a bit weird with his mohawk hair but I found out he has yet to take up some college education. Go figure.

3. Don’t be too chummy-chum-chum with the suitor or boyfriend.

Mommies tend to empathize with the rejected suitor or the dumped boyfriend. Often, the mommies feel the guy’s pain of rejection. The mom feels bad especially if she believes that this particular guy is very suitable for their daughter. But the daughter doesn’t think the guy is for her. Yes, I was like that too. kawawa naman siya. Kausapin mo!. (what a pity. You should talk to the guy)

I know of a mother who talked to the suitor all afternoon because she took pity on the guy when her daughter refused to see the suitor. In fact, this mom dragged second daughter to talk to the rejected suitor. Funny thing is the second daughter and rejected suitor became a couple. When my daughter dumped a suitor (who often talked to me via instant messenger) in favor of another guy, I was flabbergasted. I uttered the same line too. I felt sad for the dumped suitor.

And my daughter coldly replied eh, why don’t you talk and comfort him?.

4. Trust your instincts. Give your opinion on the guy and let it go.

Okay I was disappointed with her college boyfriend who dropped out of school. I also felt that my daughter was second choice after the guy got dumped by her friend. Still a control-freak mother, I confronted her and minced no words about my honest opinion of the guy. I have my reasons but I’d rather not mention it here. Mothers have instincts , you see. The problem with me was that my approach was old-school, manipulative and controlling. Now I know better. I should have just said my piece then let it go and allow her to make mistakes. But no, I told her she couldn’t see this guy. PERIOD.

That did not prevent them from being together despite my objections. Inspite of my stringent rules, I have to give her credit for not eloping with her boyfriend (a friend’s daughter did just that and had a baby soon after.)

5. Get to know the potential boyfriend material. Do some research.

When my daughters confide their crush, I often ask for a photo just to see how they look like. Often I’d agree and nod “Oy, he is cute.” One day, my girl showed me a friendster url of her crush. Sure the guy was a looker. But what did I see? Oh my…photo after photo, her crush was wrapped around with a different girl. I asked “you want to be another collection?”

If you’re tech savvy, you know there is that nifty search engine at the click of the mouse. The suitor might have a blog too, you know! A word of caution though. Don’t judge the guy based on the blog content alone. Entries may contain sarcasm, embellishment or prone to misinterpretation. But as I mentioned in number 4, say your piece, then let it go. Nagging is not going to stop your daughter from liking a guy.

6. Give basic sex education.

I don’t mean, encourage sex. In fact, I remind them that abstinence is a healthy practice to follow. But things happen. A friend told me that she wished she had given sex education to her 18 year old daughter. Her daughter’s first sexual experience led to pregnancy only because she thought she’d never get pregnant.

So I often say, ““Don’t even believe your boyfriend when he says he has protection”“. Then I add just one tiny drop contains millions of sperm to impregnate you. It takes only 1 sperm cell!. It’s not a comfortable discussion, mind you. My daughters cringe with awkwardness every time I babble on sex education. I’d rather see them cringe during my lecture than see them cringe in pain with an unplanned pregnancy.

7. Express the ideal qualities of a guy.

Eventually, I allowed my daughter to continue the relationship with the guy (in number 4) after I discovered they were still together after a year. I believed it would not last long anyway. Secretly, I was hoping she’d see my reasons eventually. I often dropped hints on the qualities of the guy that would suit my daughters. I don’t really know if they listen to me. Moms know a lot more about their daughter more than they even know themselves. We just hope it sinks in. In the end, it’s their life. It’s their choice. Mothers can only guide.

Funny thing was my daughter ended the relationship with this guy two years later, for the reason that I objected to in the first place. I allowed her to make mistakes. I could have said ““I told you so” after my instincts proved right.

My daughter often tells me that I am a cool mom now that I am more laid back. I had to pass through being an uncool mom to be a cool mom.

Any guidelines I might have missed?

Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (1388 Posts)

You may contact Noemi (noemidado @ gmail.com) for speaking and consultancy services in the following areas: Parenting in the Digital Age (includes pro-active parenting on cyber-bullying and bullying) ; Social Business ; Reinventing One’s Life; and social media engagement. Our parenting workshop is called "Prep to Prime (P2P): Parenting in the Digital Age (An Un­Workshop)" P2P Un­Workshops are conducted by two golden women in their prime, Noemi and Jane, who have a century’s worth of experience between them. They are both accomplished professionals who chose to become homemakers. This 180­degree turn also put them on a different life course which includes blogging, social media engagement and citizen advocacy. They call their un­workshops Prep to Prime or P2P, for short, to emphasize the breadth of their parenting experience. They tackle different aspects and issues of parenting ­­ from managing pregnancies, prepping for the school years of children, dealing with househelp, managing the household budget, to maximizing one’s prime life and staying healthy through the senior years.

  • my mom has the same rules for me., pero lalaki ako., lol., hahaha., super protective mom ko sakin since i’m bunso, kaya kahit lalaki ako, ayaw niya ko pakawalan.,

  • There is the ligawin, the feminine, charming, smart girl and the suplada, the girl (like me) who likes guys but do not appear charming to them.

    Thank you for the term; I guess I’m the suplada type too. 😛

    Great guidelines. My mom didn’t set much except I’m not allowed to have a boyfriend until after I graduate, which actually happened. Heh. I used to hide my crushes from her but then she found out eventually, and when I got into college, she wasn’t that strict anymore. Now there’s still no guy in sight, but I’m “legal” already…I guess I’m just a bit picky. :)) My mom once told me she never worried about my love life since I wasn’t the type to just go after any guy and I have a good group of friends who shared the same values.

    But…I have no idea how she’d react once the time comes. :)) I guess I’ll have to see how it goes. But I think by that time she won’t react the way she did when she first found out about my first crush. :))

  • @richard- Since I don’t have a son, I don’t really know the mom’s perspective

    @tina- for lack of better word, I used suplada but actually I meant “opposite of ligawin” . Oh yes, I know of the no boyfriend rule till after college. That’s why I thought my rules weren’t strict.

  • if you freaked out when lauren had a boyfriend at 15, just listen to this. my niece angelica had a boyfriend when she was in fifth grade! yes, grade 5 when she was 11. though it’s not really a real boyfriend in the true sense of the word but still, my brother was understandably furious. well, more of berserk than furious! she dumped him the next day. fortunately, she hasn’t had boyfriend #2 yet. she’s turning 16 this year.

  • I had my first bf at the age of 14 but those days were different. When you say bf-gf, para lang yung consistent na kayo magkasama pag recess or sa uwian unlike these days iba na. And aware ang parents ko dun. From the beginning they told me it’s okay to have as long as we know our limits at dapat SA BAHAY MAGPAPALIGAW. That’s what I did, and they were the first to know about him. We went on like that. They would ask me about my lovelife kung makulay daw ba or hindi. Kaya naging maganda ang relationship namin when it comes to personal matters.

  • @monaco- actually Lauren had that sort of mutual arrangement even before she was 15. Though I frowned on it, I knew the guy and it was all in jest

    @Mitch- that is okay naman. I should have been more flexible when the time came.

  • ris

    i wish my mom was more ‘flexible’ with me back then. my parents kasi we’re the type who would say “no” just because. they didn’t know i wasn’t the type of kid who would just accept that without explanation. thing is, why most parents fail at connecting with their kids especially when it comes to dating and sex is because they never take time to know their kids: how they would react, how they process advice, things like that. if they did, i guess it would be easier to explain their point diba?

    as for me, i’ve learned from my experiences as a teen. i’m a mom too, now. so i think i know what not to do with my daughter when that time comes. 🙂

  • Pingback: Not Yet Sikat » Blog Archive » No dating until 18?()

  • p

    I’m neither a mom nor a daughter but I enjoyed this story! Hope you don’t mind that I wrote about it on the whatsikat blog, http://whatsikat.com/blog/2008/01/17/no-dating-until-18/

  • i so agree with number 3. there is this family i know who got very chummy with a guy’s gf. the parents thought they were being cool by treating the gf practically like their own daughter. but they parted ways and the guy met someone else whom he later married. the gf was distraught and one of her (manipulative) tactics was to use her relationship with the guy’s family. needless to say there was a lot of tension, especially since the guy really loves the girl he married. so based on that, i believe that, sometimes, parents have to set limits on their being cool.

    hmm.. come to think of it, parents have to set limits on their coolness with their kids in general, just as they have to watch out the tendency to be controlling.

  • I don’t really remember if my parents were strict or not but I set my own rules and didn’t have any boyfriends till after I graduated from college, when I was already a teacher. Not really the “manang” type, I’m even friendly but I didn’t want anything to get in the way of my getting a diploma, I guess.

    I hope I would know what to do when the time comes that Trixie is a bit older. When hubby and I talked about the possibility of her getting one, we get a little “ipset” thinking about it.

  • Your rules are so similar to those my dad imposed. I was in the “ligawin” category and this really was torment for my dad. We had the “no bf till 18 rule”, the “no phone calls after 9pm rule”, the “go straight home after school rule”, and the “no dancing rule”. Andami pang iba. So I did what any other “shackled” kid would do…I had a bf at 15!! This was, of course, on the sly. But just like any good daughter, I fessed up. I took my dad to lunch (Philippine Plaza pa nga eh tapos siya din nagbayad 🙂 and told him everything. He said exactly what you said. It wasn’t about having a bf, it was about breaking his trust which, by the way, I had to earn back with much difficulty. Everything turned out ok in the end and I learned my lesson well.

  • @P- no problem. thanks for the link.

    @ris- it’s good you learned from your parents . Actually when we are moms, we blend our mom’s upbringing and our own ideas.

    @lady cess- I also know of a mom who liked this particular gf and the son was forced to marry her. In the end, the son kept his real love as his mistress. how sad. parental pressure is bad

    @julie- i imposed my own rules too. I didn’t feel the need to have a bf in high school

    @Kongkong- Hay I wish I didn’t let my emotions rule my thinking.

  • should trust your daughter…. let her start her relationship if you know she will be like you… having relationship in teen days doesn’t matter as long as you advice her don’t do some *ahem illegal stuff…. should be alright.. I was a teen before (last few years) my mom trusted me but still not really agree for me to have relationship on that year…
    what you need is trust Lauren… thats all. Don’t be too strict with Lauren.. because Lauren will feel you giving her pressure

  • Hi nice site you have here. Those are some good dating guidelines. My parents could of used something like this when I was groing up. By the way, I also wanted to thank-you for advertising on my site. Emma

  • My mom’s rule was “NO boyfriend/girlfriend till you get your college diploma”. So, we didn’t formally introduce steadies but we had “close” friends and MUs (mutual understandings) such that we didn’t miss out the fun of being with the opposite sex. There just wasn’t the exclusivity of relationships which parents usually shunned when their kids are supposed to be focusing on school.

    This worked for me and my siblings since we all finished college and find good matches in our late 20s. A lot of friends who had liberal and permissive parents got pregnant, married early and had broken marriages. Looking back, I guess my mom was right about her rule.

    I do not have an explicit dating policy in place. There’s no need. My 20- and 21-year old kids are “suplado/suplada”, prefer to be free from commitments, time constraints and budget drains (relative to having steadies) and are preoccupied with school and extracurriculars that both have opted to be single.

    When the proper time comes, I hope that instead of just steadies, suitors or girlfriends, my kids find “best” friends by their side in good and bad times, who will like them and their idiosyncrasies. I hope that I also get a chance to “appraise” their prospects and help them choose their mate.

    Our kids live in times different from ours; they have views and ways distinctly their generation’s. It’s thus a challenge for us moms to “watch” them closely (without restricting their growth), to influence them to choose right (without imposing) and to be their constant friend (even if they have a web of friends to share their feelings with).

    Thanks for these handy tips.

  • I have two daughters, ages 18 and 21 and both have been pretty easy on me and have shown good sense when it comes to boys.

  • @vickie- well i did trust her. She was the one who broke the trust. Took a while to rebuild but now that she’s an adult, she pretty much knows her choices

    @amomandmore- I am grateful that my parents set rules when were were teens. True, every generation is different. We need to be flexible.

  • lemon

    Ms. Noemi,

    Can’t help but recall my parents’ admonition everytime a boy came calling or visiting, the lines “sige mag asawa na kayo para kumain ng asin”, or “iuwi mo lang ang anak ko, walang labis walang kulang” were classics. sheesh. With all the eye-rolling the four of us girls did, it’s a wonder we didn’t end up cross-eyed.

    However, I agree that there is wisdom in not being too cool a mom. The difficult thing is knowing where to draw the line.

    Ironically, what served us living lessons to the four of us, more than the OA warnings from our parents, were the unplanned pregnancies, elopements, teenage marriages that went on around us just because the parents of these kids were afraid to set the limits. Plus, our mom noticed EVERYTHING going on, appearances to the contrary.

    Allowing our children to make their own mistakes–my, my, that is one difficult thing to do, but one which we must learn if we want to let them grow.

  • Great post.

    I agree with your sex education stand. When I was starting out in practice, it was difficult to elicit sexual histories from teens, etc. Sometimes, the denial would continue up to the time they’re obviously pregnant. But now when I ask about sexual histories, I find that more young people are doing it and it seems all matter-of-fact to them. You’re doing a great job by giving those lessons to your kids. I hope most parents do.

  • Great do’s and dont’s – you should create an ebook version of this one. It was really interesting and nice to see these long and informative lines from your words and your experience. my mind just flew away around 10 years from now having my 2 twin-like baby daughters around, i’d keep that in mind.

    i liked your boracay travel too, never been there, i wish to be there too with my family maybe one of these coming years.

    what can i say, i have to subscribe.

    have a nice weekend to you and you family.


  • we werent allowed to have bf’s too, not before finishing college; that’s the rule. but we broke that rule… my mom knew i have a bf but not my dad. my sister kept her bf a secret until she got preggy and that followed real turbulent months for us. as for me, i didnt stay in the relationship for a long time, it is not for me to keep things in secret. i enjoyed a big crowd rather than a one on one, that is until i reached my early 20s. but you did great with your list! am going to read this to my hubby 😀

  • Interesting facts Noemi! I don’t have any child now but these tips are priceless. Thanks


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  • blazie

    hi ma’am, its a good thing that you have your own guidelines about your daughter’s relationship..like my mom she always reminds me about that .she have a guidelines of who im going to choose.She wants of course the better..I think I’m in not ligawin type but I’m not ‘suplada’. So what I’m gonna do, but to pick up the best among my 2-3 suitors..Like a lot of teenagers sometimes Im hard-headed,but I make it sure I make it good in my studies too..Its my vacation after I graduated in HS since I had my first bf at age 16,he is my 4thyr classmate.Well not so serious because he’s torpe,,and when we go to college we have different priorities and then I heard he’s in US now..so here’s my 2nd bf of mine an exactly opposite of my mom’s ideal man for me he’s my bf since 2nd yr college not “mayaman”, not so handsome, their house is walking distance from our home..hayyz exactly opposite of my mom’s man for me..But the thing Im sure of is he really really loves me..Our relationship is illegal.Im a registered nurse of course my family expect more from me..If I can do all that they want I will do it,,So here comes the big problem of mine I got pregnant when I already passed the board they are so disappointed and so I just realized that I should listen to them,,but things not happen like that..so I have to face the consequences. my bf now is still studying for some reason,,sometimes nakakarinig talaga ako ng salita such as kung pinili ko na lang ung ex boyfriend ko na us citizen mas madali para sa kin makapunta sa states..It hurts sometimes lalo na pag to naririrnig ko “o ngaun ikaw bubuhay sa boyfriend mo..I accept Ive made mistakes but I know God have plans for me..For now I process my exams, applications to be licensed in US para makabawi..I just want to emphasized here that sometimes hindi lahat ng gusto mo para sayo..

  • Thanks for an excellent post. I\’m still making notes.

  • i\’ve enjoyed some of the readings on this site keep it up

  • This is an excellent advice for mothers while it would be great for a daughter to read and acknowledge a mothers perspective. It’s ought to maintain a healthy mother-daughter relationship and welcome that new addition to the family ( if he deserves so ) with open arms.

  • angel

    you’re a cool mom. when i was in college (i was studying in another city), every time i go home my mom tells me “ok lang mag ka boyfriend but if possible wag lang muna”… i really didn’t have a boyfriend while i was studying. my mom trusted me and i don’t want to break her trust… i have soooo many male friends since my classmates were mostly male but i didn’t have any girlfriend-boyfriend relationship with them

    since i’m already a graduate, she already allowed me to have a boyfriend, she was actually the one who told me “sagutin mo na yung guy”… no complains… she only told me she trust me 100%, don’t do naughty things… i think it was really cool… and here i am now, i still wont break her trust…