I was in Shanghai in October 2010 visiting family and relatives when my 15-year old daughter broke the news to me.

“Mom, I need to tell you something…” Michelle sounded really excited when I made my daily call to her cell.
“What? Did you get an ‘A’ on that difficult test?”
“No, mom.  I have a boyfriend!”
“You what?”
“I have a boyfriend, mom.”

I had only been gone for less than a week, and she already had a boyfriend.  I didn’t know how to react, but I knew I shouldn’t overreact.

“Who is the lucky boy?”  I asked, trying to act cool.
“Tim.  He’s someone from school.”
Michelle told me that Tim was half Asian and half Caucasian and a champion runner.
“Sounds like he is wonderful boy …  But Michelle, don’t do anything … you are too young for that, okay?”
“What are you talking about, mom?  I won’t do anything like that …”
“That’s great!  Dad and I would like to meet Tim when we get home.”

Joe and I took Michelle to Tim’s house on a Saturday afternoon and met his dad who was mowing the lawn.  The next weekend, Tim’s mom dropped him off at our house.  Tim was a tall, thin and handsome boy.

We told Michelle Tim could come to our house anytime when we were home under a few conditions: 1) No close doors 2) No sex 3) If her relationship starts to negatively impact her school work and grades, we’ll have to talk.

I thought things went along smoothly.  But Michelle announced after six weeks that she and Tim had broken up.

“But why?”  I was puzzled.
“Having a boyfriend is too much work.  I’m not going to marry him anyway.  So what’s the point?”

I was disappointed and relieved at the same time.  Michelle was at the same age as I was when I fell in love with her dad.  I thought she might find her true love young as well.  But on the other hand, now that she was no longer in a relationship, it eliminated a few big worries in our lives.


Jane didn’t have any serious relationships in high school.  We watched her agonizing over a boy who went from one girl to the next.  Eventually she came to the realization that it wasn’t worth it.  So when the boy finally asked her to be his girlfriend, she said no.  When she came home from college for the first winter break, I asked her casually “Anything new in your life? Any boys I need to know?”
“Yes!  Actually I like this boy …” She pulled a chair next to mine in the kitchen.  I knew this was serious.
“What’s his name?  How old is he?”  I realized I sounded like a typical Asian mom.
“His name is Jim and he is white.  He’s a sophomore, a year older than me.”
“How long have you known each other?”
“We met in AKpsi.  We’ve known each other since the beginning of the semester.  He told me recently that he liked me.”
“What did you say?”
“I told him I wasn’t ready for any serious relationships yet and so let’s just be cool about it.”
I was impressed by my girl’s response.
“Do you want to see a picture of him?”  Jane grinned.
Jane showed me a picture of her with Jim from her iPhone.  Jane looked smitten in it.  Jim was more than a head taller than Jane and very good-looking with a genuine big smile.  I knew my daughter’s different and sometimes exaggerated facial expressions, but this was a happy and content from the bottom of her heart smile.

A couple of months later, Jane announced on her Facebook that she was in relationship with Jim.  I couldn’t be happier for her.

Jim hit a homerun with us especially with Joe when he asked to meet us at the end of the school year.  The two families ended up having lunch together as we were on campus the same day to move our kids back home.

Some of my friends and even Jane’s friends have commented that Joe and I are pretty open-minded about Jane’s choice of a boyfriend of different ethnicity.  I don’t see why it should be an issue.  They are in love.  Jane is more motivated than ever before and she is flourishing both academically and socially. It looks to me like she has found the right person for now if not forever.

“Mom, will you approve if I bring home a black boyfriend?”  Michelle raised the question with a tricky smile on her face.
“Aahhhh ….”  I had to think about it.
Michelle burst into laughter.
“If you truly love him and he loves you the same way, I’ll be fine with it.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure!”

It’s a trying time for us parents when our kids reach the volatile teenage years and all the dramatic changes that come with it.  Finding out that our young daughters are involved with someone can be nerve wrecking and easily become the focus of conflicts.  I’ve seen parents who went bananas when their daughters’ secretive relationships were exposed.  I also know a mother who sent her daughter from South Africa to live with her ex in Australia in an effort to break up the young girl’s relationship with her boyfriend.

A loving and stable home, open communication, trust and mutual respect built overtime are critical to make this trying time a smooth transition.  Let them know your expectations, set up the boundaries and monitor their mood and behavioral changes.  Unless the boy is a clear threat to your daughter’s safety and wellbeing, take a deep breath, step aside and let it run its course.  Statistics shows that young teens don’t stay in a relationship for more than a few months.  Plus the girls you have raised may be a lot smarter and more sensible than you want to give them credit for.   Whatever you do, don’t overact and shut down the communication channel.  You can’t afford to do that when they need you the most even though they may act like they have all grown up and totally independent.