Dress Down Friday,  Uncategorized

The tennis player, the father, the daughter and her mother.

My step-daughter is 21 and slap bang in the middle of her university finals. I first met her when she was 13 and a more level-headed and switched-on teenager you couldn’t wish to meet. Even the two serious  boyfriends she’s had in this time have been ‘take home to mother’ material. I struggle to think of any time when being her ‘dad’ has proved difficult. It’s been an absolute pleasure indoctrinating her with my brand of decent leftism as she’s grown into a beautiful, intelligent and mature young woman.

Over Easter, she came back from university for a couple of weeks. During this time, she started going out with one of the coaches at the local tennis centre attended by my elder biological daughter, who is 6. They’ve known one another for a year or so prior to going out and he’s been teaching my 6 year old since she was 3. We know him well.

Last week, my step-daughter decided to nip back home for the weekend to take a break from her revision for 72 hours (and to see her boyfriend). On Saturday afternoon, my wife asked if it would be okay for tennis boyfriend to stay over. Please note, she was asking on behalf of my daughter. I think.  Anyway, tennis boyfriend is a good lad. He is, in fact, the male equivalent of my daughter: sensible, polite, the kind of bloke who every father prays their daughter will eventually settle down with. My wife, for once, was willing to defer to me on the matter of Saturday night’s sleeping arrangements.

I hesitated. Then hesitated some more. Then made my decision and fretted about it for the rest of the evening. Why?

Well, for one, my parents never let me have a girlfriend stay over. I could do what I wanted outside of the house, but not under my parents’ roof. A fat lot of good this dose of old-fashioned principle did me as my one long-term girlfriend back in those days fell pregnant when she was 18 and I was 20. But for better or worse, my parents’ position on issues like this has influenced m y own.

Next, there’s the question of my two biological daughters, 6 and 3. They adore tennis boyfriend and look forward to his knocks at our door more than my step-daughter. But did I want them waking up on Sunday morning to see tennis boyfriend at the breakfast table? The inevitable questions: “Why did you sleep here?” “Can you stay here every night?” Let’s face it, if tennis boyfriend stayed over, that horse has bolted and I’d be hard pushed to find reasons why he couldn’t stay over on any subsequent weekend.

On the other hand, my step-daughter deserved to be treated like the responsible adult she is. She respects me and our house and has earned my trust. Wasn’t it payback time?

I’ll let you know what I decided in the comments, but what do you think I should have done? Do you even understand why I should have been conflicted on an issue like this? How much does the presence of my two youngest daughters change things? Do decisions like this, for parents, matter as much I think they do?

DavidT, you’ve got all this to come.