How to Discuss Teen Dating
Teenage Dating - Parenting Help
Has your teenager started to date? Do you have many questions crowding your mind about teen dating? Dating is a natural process of growing up. Dating in the true sense of the word would mean an opportunity to get to know someone better, so that you could form closer ties with the person. Your teen may want to experiment with grown up ways as a means of finding his/her identity. If you are concerned, you could do something positive to ensure that your teenager is having clean fun, is safe and protected. You need to discuss dating with your teen. Educators and psychologists suggest that you should start discussions even while your child is at middle school. If you don’t, then someone else will. It is more dangerous to let your teen get his/her information from their peers. Most of this information could be based on assumptions and half-baked truths. As a parent, even if you are not too confident about how to talk to your teenager on dating, I am sure that you would be the best person to educate your teenager with your experience of life and understanding of your teen.
Parenting Teenagers - Things you need to know About Teen Dating
When teens start dating, they generally go out in groups. Group dating provides them with a certain amount of security, while they learn new skills. While dating, teens learn to empathise, to be sensitive towards others, the rules of intimacy and the various components of relationships such as co-operation, compromise, interdependence, etc.
Like friendship, dating starts out based on common interests, mutual respect and admiration and has its foundations in good communication, respect and honesty. Though there are dangers lurking, it would be good to remember that teens are also learning life skills when they date. Though there is some security in group dating, as more individuals pair off, the single ones are under more pressure to date someone.
Teen relationships are short lived, and they generally do not last beyond the high school years. Even if they do, distance and varied interests and activities causes most to drift apart. Even though these relationships may be passing fancies for your teenager, each is an important one. As a parent, you need to know that your teens go through the same emotions and hurt as adults do. These can seem overwhelming to your teenager at times, along with all the other changes they are experiencing. It is important to support them during this growing up phase, and reassure them that they will be happy again. Scott Monroe, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon says that some people never get over their first love. His study shows that first romantic break-up, even if it occurred in a person’s teen years, is a traumatic life event and could trigger a lifelong depression.
Another important point worth mentioning here is that studies show that teens whose parents actively discuss dating with them are happier and more balanced than those whose parents do not talk about such issues.
How to Start a Discussion on Teen Dating
It is important to build a relationship with your teen from a very early age. Without a strong relationship, it would be impossible to discuss anything of importance with your teenager. Make sure that you talk about trivial things or what you think is trivial, but all-important to your teenager. Keep it casual – it’s not a test. Communication is your ticket to guiding your teenager into healthy adulthood. You should start discussing teenage dating while your child is in middle school, asking questions that are open-ended could initiate better dialogues. You could start with questions such as “Are any of your friends dating?”, “What do you think about dating?”, “Would you be interested in such relationships?” etc. Such questions give you an opportunity to educate your child about dating whether they are ready to begin dating right away or not.
Talk to them about the pros and cons of dating. Keep the emphasis on love and the beauty of such a relationship is. Tell them how dating could also negatively affect them if they lose their perspective and sense of right and wrong. It could cost them money, friends, health, and happiness.
Emphasize the responsibility that comes with dating. Let them know that they are not only responsible for their behaviour but also for the emotions and behaviour of their date.
Warnings or “don’ts” seem to have a way of making some teenagers rebellious. Instead of a lecture, you could make your don’ts sound more like information. You need to equip yourself with some knowledge and explain to your teenager why you have certain restrictions or don’ts in place.
Be calm. You need to choose a time when emotions are even, and you are not stressed. Non-judgmental listening can help you reach your teen better.
Talking to your Teenager about Dating
Set limits. Be specific and clear about which behaviour attracts which consequences. Talking to your older teens about sex is important. Let them know that while dating is fun there could be negative consequences attached to them.
Discuss values with your teenager. Emphasize family values and the need to live within certain boundaries, which need to be accepted and respected.
Teens also need to know that they do not have to give in to pressure. They need to decide for themselves when they are ready to start dating; not because their peers are doing it. In a national survey of 12–18 year olds, 61% of the girls and 23% of the boys said that they thought that pressure from a partner was “often” a reason that teenagers have sex. 43% of boys and 38% of girls also mentioned that the fear of being teased by others about being a virgin was often the reason to have sex.(Kaiser Family Foundation, 1996).
Certain restrictions, like disallowing steady dating until after high school, may help your teenager from getting into something that he/she is not ready to handle.
It is very important that your teenager is knowledgeable about abuse, as well as the different types of abuse.Teens need to know that they must take the initiative to stop abuse. Abuse can take various forms such as pushing, shoving, slapping, physical and verbal abuse or emotional abuse, like separation from their friends. Let your teen know that he/she could always count on you for help. Violence and abuse in teenage dating is becoming a major problem today.
Discussion with your teenager is an ongoing process. You cannot say it all in one go. If you have good communication with your teenagers you may find many opportunities to give specific advice and discuss issues that are related to teen dating as and when the need arises. You mustn’t rely on schools or other state agencies alone to educate your child about dating. You need to be involved in your child’s life.
Tips on Teenage Dating
Be alert to changes in various areas of your teens life. You need to be on the alert when your teenager’s grades are falling or when they cut away from their old friends and socialize in very different groups. Steady dates or secretive behaviour should make you a little more wary of what is happening with your teenager. Another serious situation would be when your teenager dates someone older. For example, a fourteen year old girl dating a sixteen year old boy, might be putting herself at risk. Even though there is very little age difference, the rapid pace of emotional growth and behaviour brings about totally different perspectives. Older teenage boys are more interested in experimenting with the physical aspect of dating.
The world is changing constantly. The way we parent also needs to change. Search the internet, find resources, get all the information you can to ensure that you know what to do with your teenager. Each teenager is different and there is no perfect set of guidelines that would fit all.
Teach your teenager to say ‘no’ and mean it. Let them know that they need not be pressured into doing something that they are not comfortable with just to please their date. Teach them to listen to their inner voice. An uncomfortable situation is often the result of a dissonance in values. Their conscience would often alert them when they go against the values with which they have been brought up. You can never overemphasize the risks of dating.
Parenting Teenagers - What not to do?
A nonjudgmental attitude works well. You may not like your teenager’s choice of date/s, but openly expressing your dislike could put him/her on the defensive, leading them to believe that you resent the choices they make. Instead you could encourage them to think about their choices. You could ask questions such as “what qualities do you like about that person?”, “what do you think would make this relationship work?”, “what improvements you would like your partner to make? This would often keep you non-judgemental while making your teenager think more deeply about the person he/she is going out with.
Policing your teenager could force them to do things more secretly and ensure that you don’t know what is happening in their lives. Questions that allow for detailed answers could encourage good communication and keep you in the loop. For more information on mistakes parents make while parenting teenagers check this link.
Teenage Dating - What could you do as a parent?
Teenagers are learning from you all the time. Being a good role model is very important. If you are in a significant relationship yourself, you could use that to show them what a healthy relationship is. Your behaviour is their best source of education. The rapport that you build, and the relationship that you have with your teenager, encourages him/her to turn to you for support and guidance. Bond, bond and bond some more. It is the only way to ensure that your child can trust you and you could protect your teenager from getting into trouble.
Nevertheless, you cannot control or manage every aspect of your teen’s life - they need their space, and your trust. You need a good understanding of the problems your teenagers face in order to help them better. With proper grounding and good values, they will grow into well-adjusted adults, even though they may stumble along the way. They will thank you for being there for them.
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