Parents often dread the time when their teens begin to date. Though some teens get interested in dating and romance before others, it’s perfectly normal for all teenagers to want to start dating. Whether your teen is experiencing her first crush or has been dating someone special for a couple of years, follow these tips to help deal with teenage romance.
Stress the importance of balance
Teens often get too serious too fast, some even becoming obsessive. Talk to your teen about the importance of finding balance. If you feel your teen is getting too involved in their relationship, set limits on telephone calls, internet time or personal contact. Instead, make suggestions for family activities or group events for your teen and his/her friends. It’s not healthy for anyone, especially a teen, to be completely consumed by their relationship.
Set some ground rules
Before your teen starts dating, talk about what you feel are appropriate dating rules. At what age can they date alone? Are group dates allowed? Do you want to meet the person several times before your teen goes out on a date? Share your thoughts with your teen or tween about moral values and respect. Once your teen starts dating, stick with your dating rules — especially concerning things such as curfew times, telephone and text limits, school expectations, dating costs and gift giving limits. Also outline any consequences for breaking rules and boundaries, as well as any ways your teen can earn your trust and get fewer limitations.
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Talk about sex
Talk with your teen about sex on a regular basis. You shouldn’t just instill fear about STDs and pregnancy (though they are obviously important to avoid). You should also talk to your kids about the importance of maturity and being emotionally ready to handle sex. Though you can’t completely control whether your teen is going to start having sex, having an open dialogue about the topic is important. Emphasize that no subject is too embarrassing to discuss and that you will be open to talking about even the most uncomfortable situations that arise.
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Try not to judge
You can’t pick who your kids fall in love with — even if it’s only a temporary infatuation. Though you want to avoid your teen being involved with criminals, abusers and drug addicts, beyond that you can’t control whether your daughter’s date is the most scholastic or from the best family. Respect your son or daughter’s feelings and get to know your teen’s boyfriend or girlfriend. As long as you have raise your children with respect and values, things should be fine.
Be prepared for the break-up
One of the hardest things for teens when it comes to romance is the first real break-up. Be prepared to help your teen through it. Don’t ridicule or make light of the situation. Just be there for your teen in any way you can as he/she picks up the pieces.
Life vs. fiction
Speaking of teenage romance, check out our must-read book pick, Night Road by Kristin Hannah, a great fiction read that raises questions about teenage drinking, teenage romance, parenthood and the unforgettable story about one family and the pain of loss and power of forgiveness. Head to our new SheKnows Book Lounge now.