And you thought the ‘terrible two’s” were bad, now your teenager wants to start dating. When it comes to teenager dating many parents will find it somewhat less challenging if all parties involved are well aware of the ground rules and expectations.
When your child enters their teen years, it’s time to start talking about what you consider the proper age for dating. The earlier you let your child know what age you think they need to be before they can start dating, the less (hopefully) fighting will occur. Children and parents almost always have different ideas of when they should start dating, but at least if you’ve talked about it openly for some time, neither of you will feel blindsided.
Here are some great tips to keep your teen safe when they begin dating:
1. Make it very clear to your teen what your expectations are as to the type of dates they are allowed to go on. For example, if your teen is only allowed to go on dates with another couple(s) make sure they, and their date, know that.
2. Be very clear as to what time their curfew is as well as what the punishment will be if they are late. Again, make sure their date knows this as well.
3. Make sure your teen never leaves the house without a cell phone and some money.
4. Make sure you always keep the lines of communication open with your teen and let them know that if they get themselves in a jam, they should call you and you will come and get them no questions asked (at least not until you are both safely home).
5. Even though some parents find it hard to do, make sure that your child has knowledge about sex and the consequences of sex such as STD’s and pregnancy. Being a parent means you can’t be a wimp, if you feel uncomfortable talking to your teen about these issues, too bad, get over it. The life you save may be your kid’s!
6. Also, explain the dangers of drinking or doing drugs specifically in the context of dating. Make sure your teen understands that if they drink and drive they could kill themselves or one of their friends. Also make sure they understand that being drunk or high can impair their judgment when it comes to things like having sex.
7. Make sure that you meet their date. You don’t need to grill them, but just some polite conversation is fine as well as a friendly reminder of what your expectations are when it comes to curfews, acceptable places to go, etc.
8. And last, but not least, let your kid know you love them and even though you worry about them that it doesn’t mean you don’t trust them. Just let them know that you will be there for them no matter what and if they ever need to talk to you, just listen.
When you have kids, the scary changes just seem to keep on coming at you and teenager dating is one of those changes. The best thing you can do to help your teenager get through this time is to try to keep communication lines open no matter what. Believe it or not, more often than not they really are listening.