Teenagers and Dating by Linda Harris

As a parent, the thought of your son or daughter beginning to date has the potential of sending chills down your spine. You are letting them out into a world over which you have little or no control. How can we continue to care for our children as they step into adolescence?

Several considerations are important., Fundamental to navigating this time is having a healthy relationship with your budding adolescent. The choices that they make while away from you stem from this relationship. Secondly, keep communication open by practicing empathic listening. This means¬† listening to your child and checking yourself when you find that you are only focusing on your own agenda. Third, know your adolescent’s friends. Even if your child isn’t as open with you as you might hope for, knowing their friends gives you a wider perspective.

I recommend that your child first explores relationship in a group setting. This is natural and safer. Being in a group while dating is a good thing to do possibly up to the age of 16 depending on your own child’s emotional maturity. Being with other friends is a good way to explore responsible behavior. After that, hopefully your child will be better prepared for going out in a pair.

At this point, supervised dating might be best at first. By that I mean getting to know the date, making contact with his or her family and driving to and from their destination. Making your presence known offers another safeguard for your child.They probably might, no will protest, but somewhere inside of them they might be grateful. This is new for them, too.

Finally, appreciate the cellphone. Cell phones make it easier for you to call, preferable text as it is less obtrusive, to let them know that you are reachable in case they get into trouble. A word of caution, however, too much hovering may serve to alienate your child. It is equally important to give your child space to experience their growth. That requires for the parent patience and trust.

Questions: What experiences, hints or suggestions do you have for parents whose children are starting to date?

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