You knew this day would come…the day that your teen wants to start dating. With your years of dating wisdom many things pop into your head, including “WHY?” Or maybe “WHY so SOON?” You want to shout out “Not yet! Enjoy these years! Just go out with friends! Have fun!” But your teen wants what they want. Their heart is filled with emotion and excitement. Take a deep breath! Rest assured that dating is a completely normal part of the teen years.
Now what’s a parent to do?
You’ve had the puberty “talk”… (check!)
You’ve set appropriate boundaries, including:
- WHO are you going out with (check!)
- WHERE are you going (check!)
- WHEN will you be home (check!)
- HOW are you getting there and back (check!)
But let me ask you this? Have you had the “relationship” talk?
The relationship talk is about sitting down and talking about HEALTHY relationships vs UNHEALTHY relationships. You may think it doesn’t apply to you; your teen knows the difference because they’ve been exposed to your healthy relationship for years.
Well unfortunately, teens sometimes model relationships from what they see in the media, TV shows and movies. These situations are meant to be entertaining and don’t always depict healthy relationships. Your teen still needs you to guide and teach them about relationships. Start with open communication. Share the following with them:
A healthy relationship includes respect, honesty, trust, communication and non-threatening behaviour. Make sure your teen knows what a loving, caring and supportive relationship is.
An unhealthy relationship can be controlling, intimidating and include jealousy. It can start with excessive calls or text messages always wanting to know what your teen is doing. It can make your teen feel bad about themselves and at times can even escalate to physical or verbal abuse.
As a parent, know the danger signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship.
- Constant visits and phone calls
- Your teen needing to report where they are and what they’re doing
- Signs of physical abuse
- Signs of depression
If you have a concern, talk honestly with your teen and ask for help. You can also help them with ways to break up and end a relationship.
Dating for teens can be emotionally draining for everyone. It’s not only important to remind your teen about the importance of how they should be treated but also how to treat others.
It may be hard to watch your teen grow up and start dating, but if you teach them about healthy relationships, they’re much more likely to make good choices.
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.