Oh crap, you thought getting through toddler hood would be a challenge and now you have to face the issues of dating for teenagers. Trying to figure out what you can do to help keep them safe during this tumultuous time is every parents number one concern. With so many new things to worry about such as violence, drugs, alcohol, date rape, etc, there is a lot to consider.
While I can’t guarantee a safe passage for your teen, I can provide some useful hints and tips so that you can help them safely navigate this time in their life. One of the best things you can do for yourself and your teen is to discuss, early and often, what your rules are in regards to dating. This can include the age you think they should start dating, where they will be allowed to go and with whom, curfews, etc. Going over this even before your teen is allowed to date may help alleviate a little of the inevitable arguments about this subject.
Many parents find that they like to ease their teen into dating situations slowly, by suggesting group dates as the first step. This can allow your teen the ability to have some fun with their friends and be a little independent without totally cutting them off from their support system.
Make sure that not only does your teen know their curfew but their date does as well. Also make the consequences of missing curfew known to your teen whether it’s going to be a week of grounding or something else. Decide what, if any, activities will be allowed on school nights. Many parents will allow their teen to go to school sponsored events such as sporting events, but will impose an earlier curfew.
Allow your teen the opportunity to gain your trust. Slowly allow them a little more freedom and closely monitor their grades and how well they follow the rules. If you feel they are showing a lot of responsibility it may be a good idea to let them have a little more freedom. That’s the only way they can prove that they can be trusted and it’s the best way for you to show them that you do trust them. Believe it or not, your kids really do want your trust and approval and they will try to please you.
No matter how uncomfortable you may feel about discussing sex, or addiction, now is the time to do it. Your teen needs to know about the ‘birds and the bees’ and if you don’t tell them their friends will… the problem is that their friends probably don’t know what they’re talking about. Wouldn’t you rather have it come from you?
Make sure your teen also understands about the various types of abuse and what the warning signs are. Don’t just talk about physical or sexual abuse but also let them know about verbal abuse, this is probably more prevalent and easier to miss the warning signs. Tell your teens that if their boyfriend/girlfriend is trying to control them by flirting with others, threatening to break up if they don’t get their own way, trying to keep them isolated and cut them off from their friends, that these are all signs of abuse and your teen should be very cautious with that person.
I hope this advice on dating for teenagers has given you some good ideas on where to start. The bottom line is make sure your kid knows that you are their number one fan and that no matter what happens you love them and you’ll be there for them.