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Trying Marital Advice on Teens

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I tried the date night concept ... with my teen daughter.

mom and daughter at a restaurant

Sarah Bowman: Once you are married, experts recommend a weekly date with your spouse. This much-ballyhooed exercise (that is by my measure, rarely practiced) is rumored to keep couples in touch, smoothing over that territory that causes fights, hurt feelings and warding off the distances that can lead to divorce. I've never really mastered a regular date night with my husband (that's another story) but recently discovered the benefits of a date with my 16-year-old daughter. Naturally, our relationship suffers its share of fights, hurt feelings and ... what mother doesn't feel a bit of distance as her girl launches into the world?

Last weekend, at the end of a relaxed Thanksgiving break, my daughter and I found ourselves at a sushi bar together. The boys in the family were at a basketball game and we girls had only our hungry stomachs to worry about. As a junior in high school, she's loaded down with homework and SAT prep. Our encounters this past fall have been fleeting -- since she drives herself to school and practice, we have lost those hours together as I shuttled her to sports and school. To my delight, sitting side-by-side as the chef prepared our yellow fin and scallion hand roll, produced the same result as riding next to each other in a car. Free flowing, unplanned conversation -- the connective tissue of a relationship.

We didn't discuss anything profound, just laughed about the foible of a too-earnest friend, and chatted about her new volleyball coach. It crept up on both of us, and suddenly we were knit back together again. She and her Dad have found camaraderie watching GLEE together, and this ritual has bound them as tightly as the days when he coached her AYSO team. In the new year, I vow to find these serendipitous moments more frequently. Perhaps I should sneak in a few dates with my husband, as well. If only he ate fish.

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