Adolescence is a difficult time not only for teens, but also for parents. Many changes take place physically and emotionally. The need for independence and support take a conflicting seat. It may seem like teens do not want or need their parents support, but guidance and consistency provide comfort during a confusing period.
As a parent, talking to your children about the birds and bees may be uncomfortable; and the thought of talking to them about dating may just push you over the edge. It is important to put your fears aside and provide them valid information based on your families’ morals and values. Would you rather your teen hear about dating and relationships from you or receive skewed information from the media and/or their peers?
You may be wondering how to begin talking to your teen about dating. The following tips may help.
1. Decide your families’ values before you talk to your teen.
Decide what you as a parent/s are ok with in regards to dating. Having a clear plan ahead of time, may help to keep you from being taken off guard if something comes up in conversation. If a topic comes up that you do not have an answer for, it’s ok to get back to them.
2. Develop a bond with your teen.
Participate in and share experiences with your teen that are of interest to them (even if it is not important to you). Have your teen plan a point of interest on your next vacation, choose a place to eat or movie to see. The closer your teen feels to you, the more likely they are to open up to you.
3. Use everyday life, as an opportunity to start conversations.
When you see a scenario played out on TV, or in public, talk about it. Ask your teen, “how they would feel,” or “what would they do if they were in that situation?” Have them explain “pop culture” to you from their point of view. Be open and non-critical to their explanation. This is an opportunity for you to understand their world and where they are coming from.
4. Talk about their friends.
Ask who they hang out with. Inquire (in a non-detective manner) their friends’ ages, interests, and affiliations. This is a great opportunity to ask if their friends are dating. Get feedback from them about their friend’s relationships.
5. Provide support.
Let your teen know they can come to you with their problems. Be open, supportive, and attentive if they want to talk to you. Just as you are nervous talking to them, they are also nervous about talking to you.
As parents, it’s important for you to be a positive role model. Your teens are looking to you for guidance on how the world works even when it seems like they have it all figured out. For more information on teen dating go to www.loveisrespect.org/ or www.futureswithoutviolence.org/. There are many websites and books available with information for parents.