The first of this Parenting Teens series talked about how to better communicate with teens. For this post, I would like to tackle the issue of teen dating.
The first time I went to my son’s high school for a parent-teacher meeting, I saw several teen students – couples – paired up walking along the corridor. I knew then that my son is getting into a new world –a teen’s world that is full of fun and exploration.
One issue that they might come across sooner or later is that of a boy-girl relationship. Crushes are fine and so is being friends with the opposite sex. But having a serious love affair? Having boyfriends or girlfriends is something that I think they’re not yet ready for. Well, not yet… So, what would I tell my teens about dating? Here are some of my thoughts.
Every family is different when it comes to raising teens. Some parents are fine with letting their 13-year old children begin dating, whereas others expect their children to wait until they are 18 years old. My husband and I are more of the latter type of parents.
Teen dating can wait
Parents have reasons for setting this rule on teen dating, so it’s not right to accuse them of being unfair. I tell my children to focus first on their studies. When they get into any relationship, it will distract them from their studies. I know some say that being in love helps them to work harder because they feel inspired. What if they fall out of love? You can never know what will happen because the emotions during this stage of life are not stable.
And parents just want to protect their children. If one or both of them may have had a bad experience during their teens, they are just trying to keep their children from experiencing the same.
I also tell my children that they should be careful in choosing their school friends, because I don’t want them to do something just because of peer pressure. Some teens feel like they need to date someone just to “belong” with their friends who are already dating. Well, this is never the right reason to date.
Don’t give in to peer pressure
What if my child really like someone? Well, he or she can start with friendship. They can get to know each other more and have fun as friends. No commitments. If they really like each other and they are really meant for each other, I believe that someday they will end up together.
Start with friendship
Know your boundaries. No holding hands, please.
Know your boundaries
One thing that most parents fear when their children are dating is the physical contact that might be involved. It’s a sad reality that many teen girls get pregnant.
I think it’s not because the young couples do not know what they are not supposed to do. They do. But the problem is when they put themselves in an isolated place, they can’t keep themselves from having physical contact to the point of doing what only married couples are supposed to do.
So, as parents we need to help them set the boundaries. One is by not allowing them to date when they are not yet mature enough. Second, when they do begin to date, we need to remind them to avoid physical contact as much as possible. Sounds old fashioned? Well, call it old fashioned, but if it helps them avoid any future problem, so be it. Let them go on group dates or with a chaperone.
The physical contact may begin with holding hands, but soon it may involve kissing, petting, and who knows, sex. I know that moral values play an important role in this. Well, I know my children and their values, but I don’t know really well whoever they are dating. So, it’s best to be careful.
Being in love is such a wonderful feeling. But when you’re in a relationship, sometimes that special someone can break your heart. I know how painful that can be. Been there.
Love can hurt
As much as possible, I want to spare my children from that hurt, especially while they are not yet ready emotionally. But then, if the time is right for them to date someone and still they come to experience a break-up, I know they will be strong enough to handle life.
To summarize this discussion, let me just say that we need to make sure that our children feel loved and secure within the boundaries of family. This will encourage them not to get into any relationship very early in search for love and self-worth. Here’s one quote from Dr. Phil in relation to this. Find more practical advice on his website.
As a parent, it’s your job to teach your teenager the importance of self-worth. Teenagers who value themselves as they are won’t need to “find themselves” in other people.