Manual for Manhandling

Dear Dategirl,

My 14-year-old daughter is on the brink of dating. She's already talking and texting with one boy, though she swears they're just friends. I know that blush, and maybe they are "just" friends, but not for long. The thought of my only baby growing up terrifies me. My husband isn't happy about the thought of her having sex, but he keeps to himself. I've been talking to anyone who'll listen, including my therapist. Lord, I don't know what I'd do without HER! Is there any sane advice I can offer my kid about men? I feel unequipped because I've been with my darling husband since college and he was the first (and only) man I ever slept with.

—Madre Dearest

Here's what you shouldn't do: search your daughter's room while she's at school, unearth her birth-control pills, and then scream "slut" at her every time you fight for the next 10 years. Just a tip I pulled out of thin air. Ahem.

Like it or not, the little girl whose diapers you were changing just yesterday will soon be getting busy with some knucklehead, and while you can't stop it, you can make sure she's safe. Not only by making sure she's using condoms and birth control, but by helping her become a strong, smart, resourceful, independent young woman who knows her boundaries.

Sit down and watch Girls and Teen Mom with her. Lena Dunham's character in the former is a lesson in how not to be, and I have to guess that Teen Mom is more effective than any birth control you could purchase at a drug store. But mostly, you have to calm down and let her know you're not going to have a heart attack if she asks you about d-d-d-d-doing it. You don't have to morph into the "cool mom," but you do owe it to your kid to get a grip.

I need some advice. What do you do when your friend informs you that she's going to marry a douchebag?—and I mean a pure-D, knuckle-dragging asswipe. Do you pounce on the grenade and tell her the truth, thereby wrecking your friendship? Or do you be quiet and hope she gets the best bite out of a shit sandwich?


You have to decide which is more important: speaking your mind or maintaining your friendship, because you probably can't do both. I'm not saying you have to lie about liking him, but telling her she's marrying a jackass is probably not going to break them up. However, it may break up the two of you.

I have a big mouth. One of my myriad character deficiencies is that when I'm certain of something, it's nearly impossible for me to shut my piehole about it. Take my friend X: She was dating someone who was obviously (to me, anyway) married, yet she insisted he was 100 percent single. I listed all the many reasons I believed he was shacked up with someone else—and we're talking straight-up Cheater 101 checklist, no special Spidey senses at work. Your Amish granny would've given this guy the side-eye. Instead of being grateful for my insight and perhaps looking into the situation, she got mad. At me! I found out later I was right, but I couldn't even say I told you so, because she'd quit speaking to me. So tread lightly, my friend.

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