Ask Mary Jo: Date or a hangout? Getting my teen daughter to cooperate?

Hi Mary Jo,

I am currently single and using dating apps. Often when a woman and I match, I’ll think the girl and I are just hanging out and she’ll think we’re dating. What’s the difference between dating and just hanging out?



New dating trends and the ease of meeting potential partners on dating apps confuses many, but in general hanging out is a cloudy term for casual relationships. Dating implies that the goal is to form a relationship. Dating someone means there is an intention for a potential commitment. To avoid confusion in the future, I would state your intention up front before meeting them. Keep it casual; something simple like asking, “Can we do coffee or a meet up to get to know each other?” sounds more direct and less open to confusion than asking to hang out. People hear what they want to hear, so the more direct the better.

Hi Mary Jo,

How do I get my teenage daughter to be more cooperative?



Kids are born with a unique temperament and some teens are easier than others. Children who are pleasers, for example, are much easier than children who have a strong need to do the opposite of everyone else. I recommend practicing the following five tactics and staying away from comparing your daughter to their friends or siblings.

  1. When you’re asking your child to do something, give them more than one choice. For example, tell them they can either clean their room or do the laundry first, but both need to be done. You should be indifferent to which choice they make.
  2. Communicate clearly and ensure acknowledgement. If your child is doing something else when you ask them, make sure you make eye contact with them along with your request. Making sure you both understand the request and your teen acknowledges you is practicing good communication. 
  3. Provide a rationale for the task. Teens are learning to question and reflect on the meaning behind their choices, which is an important skill. When you explain why something needs to be done, it helps them understand why they need to cooperate and helps them manage their time better.
  4. Don’t get emotional or take your child’s resistance personally. Teens can be dramatic and react impulsively. You’re the parent; don’t get mad or lose your cool. Parenting is not personal or a friendship. Your job is to guide them, set limits, and reinforce consequences for their choices. Don’t get mad about your teen being a teen; this, too, shall pass.
  5. Know when to walk away. If your child decides not to cooperate this time, give them a consequence you directly told them about before you requested their help. Removing privileges works best but always have a plan where they can earn the privilege back by doing what they were asked to do in the beginning.