Teenagers today are enticed to get into a relationship. They face strong pressure to date and getting involved with someone. Most of the teenage relationships among 12-14 years old lasts for an average of 6 months while for a 16 year teenager a romantic relationship lasts for 2 years on an average. Therefore, parents need to be prepared for the changes in terms of sexuality that a child encounters during teenage. Even though initial adolescent romantic relationships may not last, but they will help a teenager to mature. At the same time the darker side of teenage relationships can put your child’s youth in danger. This includes problems like school failure, use of drugs, depression, teenage pregnancy etc.
Read these tips carefully to help your teen deal with dating.
1. Building a supportive relationship
First, build a positive, cohesive relationship with your teen. As a parent you need to be caring, supportive and attentive toward your children. It helps them to form a friendly bond with you. At the same time you shouldn’t be dominating or neglecting toward your teens’ demands. A loved teenager would be more communicative with you and would also allow you to indulge in his/her life affairs. At the same time, this would decrease chances of rebellion. You should also be a role model for your child, converse with her/him about his daily routine and be an active listener. If your teen shares information with you, don’t express it publicly. Otherwise, you would lose her/his confidence.
2. Having ‘The Talk’
It is a myth that talking about romantic relationships with adolescents will make them more likely to date. The fact is that a talk regarding relationships and sex would avoid their exposure to negative media content and they would learn about the dangers of potential physical contacts. Be open and discuss about romance with your teen. Share your views on what is a healthy or an unhealthy relationship. Make sure that you allow your child to express her/his opinions and not force your opinion on them. Ask them to think carefully about dating or taking the next step in their relationship. You must understand that they won’t come and talk to you about everything happening in their relationship, so you simply need to trust them and teach them to listen to their inner voice. If a teen learns about dating and its possible dangers, then s/he may ponder hard before talking any step while being in a relationship. This way you would boost your child’s confidence.
3. Indulging in your teens’ activities
We don’t ask you to move around with your teenager all the time as this might not be a valuable option. But you can always indulge in some activities with your teen to strengthen your bond. Remember that a teen who feels secure at her/his home is more likely to make sound decisions outside the house. So, join your teen and watch her/his favorite television show, preferably the problems that depict adolescents in a romantic relationship. After the show end, discuss about the situations in the show and ask your child about the possible solutions. But refrain from passing comments during the show.
4. The dangers
Always share the positives of dating in adolescence. But make sure that you also elaborate the dangers on teenage dating. Be supportive to your older teens’ efforts to date, unless there is a physically or psychological threat to your child. Help her/him understand the possible dangers of physical contact, drug use and succumbing to peer pressure. Understand that your teen’s sexual and social identity is in a process of formation and therefore is fragile. Teens who aren’t heterosexuals may face confusion and disillusion. Accept their sexuality and give them the required support by helping them deal with the troubles.
5. The rules and consequences
For a younger teen you need to set several rules while for an older teen you need to give her/him some space along with the rules. Inform the teen about the rules particularly the appropriate age of partner, curfews etc. Also tell them the consequences. If you forbid some activity then make sure that you provide proper explanations to your child, otherwise, s/he might think that you are too dominating. Encourage your younger teen to go on group dates like a matinee movie or shopping at the mall. Deal family conflict with positive views and become flexible as your child matures. Don’t be too strict or you will invite rebellion.
Remember that teenage dating is promising but problematic too. Understanding the impact of dating along with positive communication would strengthen your family bond and would also help your growing teen to become selfconfident, thereby promoting a sense of positive identity in your child.