Dating can be a tough topic for parents and teens to discuss.
Dating has changed, and is more complex than ever, especially with social media so prevalent and the endless texting with teens. When your teen starts to show an interest in dating, that is when you want to have the discussion and iron out how you feel about it. As parents, you want to prepare your child to date and make sure they make good decisions.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your teen about dating:
- Be clear: When you are talking to your teen about dating put the rules in place. Especially with curfews and if your teen wants a later curfew pick a set time. Allow your teen to show their responsibility and slowly increase the time. This will empower them to make good decisions and want to be responsible.
- Take it seriously. Nothing is more frustrating for a teen when their parents dismiss them wanting to date or having a bf/gf. First relationships are a big deal and some teens fall hard. You want your son/daughter to talk to you about their relationship, not try to hide it because they think you don’t care.
- Discuss the pros/cons: Weigh the pros and cons of dating with your teen. Explain how dating can cost money and the time spent doing activities together they both enjoy. Dating isn’t texting back and forth or using social media to converse. Dating to “date” just because all your teen’s friends are is not a good idea; make sure to make this point. Teens are caught up in the pressures of having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Discuss social media: Having the conversation about what is and isn’t appropriate is an important and sometimes uncomfortable conversation to have. About four percent of teens have sexted a photo or video of themselves and 15 percent have received one, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Explain how pictures sent can easily be shared. These teens are caught up in the right now -- they don’t realize if that relationship ends (especially on a bad note) those pictures can be shared or sent around.
- Responsibility: Discuss the responsibility of dating with your teen. Your teen should respect his or her boyfriend or girlfriend and treat them well. Share your values and what you expect from your son or daughter and what they should expect from their bf/gf as well.
- Have the sex talk early: Kids are learning what sex is younger and younger. Have an age appropriate discussion about sex so that they have the correct information.
- Discuss abuse: Teach your child about a partner being controlling in any way, both physically or mentally. It is important to discuss all signs of an abusive relationship so they are aware of the warning signs.
- Lead by example: Beware of how you and your spouse treat each other.