As a parent, there are just some conversations many dread having with their child. Teaching them about the birds and bees is one that comes to mind, and establishing rules when it comes to dating is another.
You knew this day would come: having to set boundaries when it comes to your teenage son or daughter dating. It was inevitable; after all, you can hardly keep them at home all the time, as much as you might want to avoid their starting to date, becoming sexually active and, yes, having their heart broken.
And while it might be a difficult discussion to have, talking to your teenager about what boundaries you want them to live by is crucial. True, they might not always follow them, but setting these rules and having an open discussion about the boundaries is helpful. It allows them to establish their own rules as to what they are willing to accept when it comes to dating and relationships, and what they deem is beyond what they’re comfortable with.
Provide a clear example of a good, healthy relationship
One of the best ways to do this, of course, is to be a great role model. Do you and your partner always treat each other with respect and use kind words? When there’s a conflict, do you talk things through until some common ground and peace is established? When you show how compromise and affection are rewarding and healthy in a relationship, your teen will know this is what’s possible when it comes to dating, and they’ll be more likely to aim for the same ideal.
Decide what age is acceptable for your teen to start dating
There is no hard-set rule as to what age is appropriate. It will vary from family to family and even for each individual teenager. Consider your child’s maturity and what you feel is appropriate for your particular situation. Also, you might want to establish different stages of dating that are allowed. When they’re in their early teens, consider allowing them to go on a date with a group of other teens, or permit them to go on a date to a movie, but you drop them off and pick them up from the theatre, for example. Other dating scenarios to consider setting certain ages for: solo dates when they can drive on their own, weekend trips and sleeping over at their date’s home.
Be clear about the guidelines
Some aspects just call for simple rules you expect your teen to live by. Be upfront and state them, and if your teenager doesn’t adhere to them, let there be consequences (no dates for two weeks, for example). The first rule could be that you have to meet their date before they go out on their own together. A curfew is another standard one: Set a clear time they must be home from their date. If they’re hanging out in your home, whether in the TV room or their bedroom, the room door must always be left open. Stipulating such rules from the start will simplify things for everyone.