They’re past the play date, but not quite ready for “prime time.” Here’s how one mom suggests picking fun, appropriate dating venues for tweens.
By Alicia J. McClung-Hetz
It’s 3:07 pm, and you’re now only one centimeter closer to the front of the dreaded car rider pick-up line. Finally you spot her, your beautiful baby girl! She’s fidgeting and playfully twirling her slightly matted and mangled hair. You sigh and mentally add hair grooming to your ever-growing list of things to do.
It’s now 3:15 pm, and Suzie’s finally in the car. Meanwhile you’re stuck in what seems to be the ultimate traffic jam with only 15 minutes to spare until soccer practice starts, when she says to you, “Mom, Jacob asked me out on a date!” You have 50 million things going on, and you’re not exactly thrilled that your little princess even communicates with a member of the opposite sex, but you fix your mouth to a seemingly believable smile. You tell yourself to relax. You don’t freak out or show any emotion at all, for that matter. Instead, you calmly glance at your tween in the rearview mirror and say, “That’s nice dear, how exciting!”
In the pit of your stomach, however, you have this blah feeling, coupled with a schoolgirl excitement of your own as you reminisce about how breathtaking it was when you were asked out on your first date. Suzie interrupts your trip down memory lane with an insistent request to send a text to accept Jacob’s invitation. You rationalize a bit more and decide that a tween playdate may not be that bad after all.
You resolve that, when carried out intelligently, cautiously, and honorably, dating is a legitimate way for two people to get to know each other. That this time for growth and maturity should be a guided learning process. You know that part of being a good parent is being a good listener and that, just as you were involved in her many playdates as a young child, your presence and involvement is going to be an integral part of this tween get-together-date-like experience that she now desires. Success! Victory is yours! You pat yourself on the back because you’ve been doing something right and apparently opened the lines for communication. The fact that your daughter could come talk to you about her crush rather than sneak off to a movie in the first place speaks volumes.
High off your fresh win, how cool of a parent would you be if you ruined her first tween playdate experience by making it awkward and unenjoyable? That’s where we come in with tips on how to scout out exciting, safe, positive, and healthy venues for your tween and her date.
Tips for Scouting out the Perfect Tween Date Spot
- Do something different! Stay away from the usual, like visiting the neighborhood mall or watching a regular movie. Both of those venues can be costly, and it may be difficult to decide which stores to visit or movie to watch. Also, girls typically enjoy shopping a bit more than boys.
- Since this whole tween dating thing can be a bit scary, you want to help navigate the waters with your tween by encouraging morality, modesty, and maturity. Maybe catch a local play or movie of the week outdoors under the stars!
- If you are thinking about going to a restaurant, go and check the menu first. Be sure it’s affordable and offers meals that you or your tween would consider eating and maybe even meals or great appetizers that you all could munch on together. A bonus would be a restaurant that also offers entertainment, such as video games, bowling, skating or pool. That way there’s bound to be something fun that the parents can do, too!
- Keep in mind that the venue should be entertaining and interactive, keeping your tweens’ young minds focused on more than each other. For example, a trip to a local park offering free events fits the bill.
- Don’t pick an overly romantic place. Instead, choose venues that allow the tweens to be close to one another but that are also extremely public and that make it easy for them to keep their hands to themselves. Check out our list of fun date spots around town for you and your tween:
Date Spots for Tweens
Featuring state-of-the-art bowling, multi-level laser tag, thrilling high-gravity ropes, video game rooms, stylish billiards, energetic bars and high-quality restaurants. With two Houston locations to choose from.
Stafford: 12626 Fountain Lake Circle, Stafford, TX 77477
Katy: 24401 Katy Fwy, Katy, TX 77494
HOURS: Monday-Sunday 9am-2am
Dave and Busters
Lots of games, including speed basketball, full-size hoops, trivial pursuit, press a button to stop close to a coupon bonus light, whack-a-mole, bowling, and deal or no deal. This place is fun, with lots of kids running around, lots of families, and pool and darts areas. They also have finger food (think nachos, potato sliders, mozzarella sticks, veggie burgers and fries, etc.)
6010 Richmond Ave , Houston, (713) 952-2233
7620 Katy Fwy. Ste 100 , Houston, (713) 263-0303
HOURS: Mon-Thu, Sun 11:30am-12 am
Friday-Saturday 11:30am-2 am
FUNomenal Family Festival will return this spring. This festival held at Discovery Green provides guests with a foam party and rides, including: Inflatable Zip-Line, Quad Jumper, Water Balls, Rock Wall, Trackless Train, Dual Lane Wild Splash, Tropical Rush Water Slide, and Amazon Extreme Obstacle Course. Discovery Green also offers movie nights, ice skating during the winter months, a dog park and so much more!
1500 McKinney , Houston , (713) 400-7336
Miller Outdoor Theatre
The only free open-air theatre of its kind in the United States. Watch a play put on by Houston’s very own Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), groove to some old Motown tunes or check out the fireworks display. Tweens might even find themselves rolling down the infamous hill like they were “kids” again! The Theatre presents over 120 performances each season totally free of charge.
6000 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, (832) 487-7102
Art Car Museum
Not your average museum, this multimedia art exhibits small, charming, unique pieces of art. Houston’s Art Car Museum is a privately owned institution housing contemporary art with an emphasis on art cars. They are dedicated to promoting undiscovered artists and to increasing public awareness and appreciation of art. They also hold an annual parade that would make a perfect tween date! Admission is always free.
140 Heights Blvd., Houston , 713-861-5526
OPEN: Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-6pm
CLOSED: Monday & Tuesday
K1 Speed features over 50,000 sq. ft of adrenaline pumping family fun! This all electric karting center is the first in the city and offers an unforgettable experience. Kids must be at least 48” tall to participate. Karts are equipped with roll bars, seat belts and helmets. This would be a fun date for adventurous types of all ages.
14900 Northwest Freeway, Houston, 281-674-8012
Beautiful park, across from the Toyota Center, where the Houston Rockets play. This park has its own basketball court and holds several basketball tournaments, as well as festivals. Close to many restaurants, you can play a little one-on-one before or after your meal!
1400-1498 La Branch St, Houston, TX 77002
The Menil Collection
The Menil Collection is another favorite, presenting a fine collection of antiquities and modern and contemporary art. This museum is free and offers a calendar of different events throughout the year. 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, TX 77006, 713-525-9400
Alicia McClung-Hetz is a contributing writer and a proud wife and mother of three who works in the legal industry.