I have a few years before I have to really worry about my kids starting to date, but I know that as school starts up again, there are many parents and teens having this dating debate in their own house.
It’s a scary thought for me — my kids out in the world as teenagers trying to have fun and find love and getting to know new people. I don’t have a whole lot of experience in dating, since I met my now-husband when I was young. I do know it’s an important conversation to have and it’s an inevitable part of growing up.
When the right time to allow or be open to your child starting to date is not hard to answer. It all seems to depend on your child, your own experiences, and sort of just a gut feeling about it all. If things were to go my way as my kids get older, I am hoping not to have to face the whole dating thing until they’re 16 years old, but in case it happens sooner, there are some important conversations I will be having in the years leading up to it about teenage dating.
Click through and read 7 tips for parents on teen dating:
7 Important Tips for Parents on Teen Dating 1 of 8
If your teen is starting to date -- or heading into the age where they may -- here are some important tips for you as a parent:
Have Many Conversations About Sex and Love 2 of 8
I know it can be an uncomfortable topic for parents and teens, but it's important to talk about. You want to make sure your child has all the tools they need to make informed decisions and not go into things not knowing what to expect. Sure, dating doesn't automatically mean they will become sexually active, but it's better to be prepared.
Encourage Group Dating 3 of 8
If your teen is just starting off on dating, encourage group dates with one or more couples. It takes the pressure off and can help ease them into the one-on-one dates later.
Don’t Forbid — Discuss 4 of 8
If you ever try to tell a teen what to do (or worse, what not to do), it likely won't go over the way you had hoped. You will want to make sure you're having a conversation and discussion about dating so you're both being heard.
Know Who They’re Going With and Where 5 of 8
Yeah, I know that teens don't always like to tell us everything, but making it a priority to know who they're going out with and where they're planning to go is just a good safety measure.
Discuss the Signs of Abuse 6 of 8
I know it's not something we want to think about and you may not think your teen will be in a relationship where this could happen, but no one ever really does. Talk to your teen before they start dating about what some of the warning signs are of an abusive or potentially abusive relationship so they can watch for the signs before it gets out of control.
Talk About Self-Respect 7 of 8
This is a conversation that should be had with your teen well before they start dating, but if you're late to this one, it's better now than never. Talk about what self-respect is, why it's important, how it's not tied to another person, and ways you can encourage theirs to grow. Your teen having a good foundation of self-respect and self-esteem will help them choose the right partners for dates, not based on what others think.
Let Them Know You’re Always Available and Check In 8 of 8
It seems like it's pretty obvious, but making it known by actually saying it over again to your teen will help ensure they come to you with any questions or issues. I know that teens aren't always open with their parents, but if you let your child know you're always around for advice or comfort - in a non-judgmental way - they will be more likely to come to you when they need it.
Photo credits: photostock
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Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three kids and expecting baby #4 at the end of this year. Read more from Devan on Babble and “like” Accustomed Chaos on Facebook!