RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CENTER FOR TROUBLED TEENAGE BOYS

How Parents Can Support Healthy Teenage Dating

At Sundance Canyon Academy, we have spoken to numerous parents concerned about their teen’s relationships. Romantic relationships are very important to teenagers, and it’s a challenge to teach your teen how to have a healthy romantic relationship. It can also be tough to get your teen to understand why you don’t like their boyfriend or girlfriend. We are writing about teenage dating today to give parents some tips for supporting healthy adolescent dating.

As your kids grow up, they’re bound to develop romantic interests. They start to get crushes on other kids, and they will enter the wide world of dating.

Teenage dating is a little different these days than in the past, but the basics are still the same. Your kid has a crush on another kid. That kid returns the feelings. They start spending more time together, and hanging out more.

Sometimes you’ll like the person they’re dating. Sometimes you won’t. In either case, it’s essential that you support healthy teenage dating and guide your child in the right direction to understand healthy romantic relationships.

Setting clear rules and boundaries

While your child is still young, set clear rules and boundaries around dating. As they get older, the rules might loosen up and change a bit. Your household rules around dating should be designed to support healthy relationships as your child grows into an adult.

Just like adults, kids can get caught up in romance. When they start dating someone new, it can seem like nothing else matters to them anymore. They want to spend all of their time with their new boyfriend or girlfriend. They constantly call or text with that person. They might even start to act more like the person they’re dating.

Without clear boundaries, it’s easy for teenagers to get swept away by their emotions and forget about the other important aspects of life.

Limit time spent together

Limit the amount of time that your teen spends with their new boyfriend or girlfriend just like you would limit the rest of their extracurricular activities.

Schoolwork and household responsibilities have to come before time with friends and significant others. Your child needs to learn how to manage their day-to-day responsibilities even when they are in the throes of adolescent love.

Limit phone time and computer time

Teens today spend more time communicating outside of school than most of us did at their age. Since cell phones have become so common, it’s easy for teens to talk, text, and engage with each other on social media.

Make sure that your teen has family time where cell phone use is limited. Even though they might want to talk to their boyfriend or girlfriend all the time, they need to know how to put the phone down and interact with the other people in the room.

Set rules about where they can go and what they can do

As your teen grows up, they can go more places on their own without constant adult supervision. If your teen is younger (or they haven’t earned your trust), you might want to limit their options a little more.

Teen dating can progress quickly, and it’s good for younger teens to have more adult supervision while still learning how to date.

What to do when you don’t like the person they’re dating

Sometimes, your teen might date someone who you don’t like. Maybe you think that the new boyfriend or girlfriend is a bad influence or that they just aren’t a nice person.

As a parent, you don’t want to see your child get hurt. You don’t want them to be heartbroken, and you certainly don’t want them to change their personality just to make someone like them.

You might be tempted to ban your child from dating that person, but that’s not particularly effective. If they want to date them and you ban it, that might just make the forbidden romance even more desirable. It’s much more effective to help your child learn from the relationship and see it for what it is.

How to talk to your teen about their significant other when you don’t like them:

  • Don’t trash talk about their boyfriend or girlfriend. Let your kid know why you distrust that person, but don’t insult them. That will only make your kid clam up around you and shut down.
  • Encourage open communication. If the relationship isn’t going well, your kid probably feels it. They just don’t know what to do with those feelings. Let your kid know that you’re there to listen to them and help them process what’s going on.
  • Hold to the usual dating rules. You can still limit the amount of time your teen spends with this person just like you do with their other friends. To hang out or go on dates, they still need to follow the rules of the house.

There’s a caveat to dealing with a boyfriend or girlfriend you don’t like. If the relationship is abusive in some way, don’t tolerate it. If your teen has gotten caught up in an abusive relationship, you may need to contact your local authorities or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

If you are worried that your teen son’s behavior is changing too much because of who he’s dating, he might need a break from that person. Many teens benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school where they can focus on building positive life skills.

Contact us today to find out if our school might be a good fit for your teen son.

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