One of the biggest milestones in a child's transition to adulthood is dating.
Keep the following tips in mind when your teen becomes interested in dating.
Begin by talking to other parents. Ask about rules that have worked in their families concerning:
- Age to begin dating.
- Dating older partners.
- Single or group dating.
- Rules about being alone in the house with boyfriends/girlfriends.
Before your teen starts dating
Before your teen begins dating, discuss the characteristics of good and bad dating choices. Tell your teen to look for someone who:
- Is respectful, both toward your teen and adults.
- Can listen respectfully.
- Never does things that scare your teen.
Encourage your teen to avoid dating someone who:
- Has had a lot of former partners.
- Doesn't want your teen to have other friends or spend time with your family.
If your teen is dating
Get to know the boyfriend/girlfriend personally. Include him or her in family activities. Try to meet his or her parents. Find out who his or her friends are, because your teen also may be spending time with these new friends. Communicate any family rules to the boyfriend/girlfriend. For example, talk about curfews, automobile rules and other safety concerns.
If you do not like a teen's boyfriend/girlfriend
- Begin by trying to understand why.
- Do not flatly forbid relationships of which you do not approve. It seldom works and cuts off communication with the teen.
- Talk to your teen about why you think the relationship is unhealthy. Be specific.
- Make certain your child is knowledgeable about the consequences and responsibilities of a dating relationship. Provide information about:
- Pregnancy and prevention.
- Sexually transmitted infections and prevention.
- Be prepared to deal with "broken hearts." At any age, a broken relationship is difficult. But in the teen years, the emotional roller coaster makes a breakup even more shattering. Your teen may seek comfort and reassurance.