The teenage years often bring your child’s first relationship. It is better to address healthy dating with your child sooner rather than later.
1. Why talk with them?
Although many may brush off teenage relationships as “puppy love,” your teens feel the effects of them strongly. Statistics also show that nearly 1.5 million high schoolers annually experience abuse in a dating relationship. It’s important to talk with your teen about what a healthy relationship looks like. Start by knowing the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. In a healthy relationship, both people are supported and can communicate honestly. Their privacy is respected. This is not the case in an unhealthy relationship.
2. Discuss the warning signs
When talking with your teenager, be open and honest. Encourage dialogue by asking questions. For example, you can ask them “What are you looking for in a boyfriend/girlfriend?” Then, talk about the differences between love, lust, and infatuation. You should also make sure they know what the different types of abuse are. Although this can be a difficult conversation, it is important for your teen to know. Make sure they know how to identify abuse and its warning signs.
3. Establish boundaries
Each family has their own set of rules or guidelines for dating. Talk with your teen about your expectations for their relationships. Setting ground rules will help your teenager understand up front what their freedoms are. These can include expectations about meeting their date, knowing what the plans are, or rules regarding alcohol use. When helping them set their own boundaries in relationships, consider communication issues, privacy, and social media behavior.
Relationships can be difficult to navigate and your teen will need your support! Walking through this season of life with them can be invaluable to them.