Now that your kid is reaching the teen years, dating is going to come up. As the parent of a teenager, it’s normal to be worried about your kid dating. You don’t want them to get hurt, and you don’t want them to move too fast. You want to preserve their childhood as best as possible while still letting them grow up.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to when it is an appropriate age to date. That age is different for different kids. It comes down to your child’s maturity level and development. Some kids want to date as soon as puberty hits. Others don’t feel like dating until later in high school. When your teen shows an interest in dating, get ready for their love interests to begin.
Understanding Teen Dating
Teen dating isn’t the same these days as it was a decade or two ago. With the advance of social media apps and overall teen cell phone use, kids connect online a lot more than they used to. Sure, they go out on actual dates as well, but they talk online a lot more than you might think.
Before they go out in real life, your teen will probably chat with their crush via some cell phone apps. They can text, share pictures, and share videos. Today’s teens get to know each other a little better that way, and it doesn’t seem to take away from the actual connection when they go on dates.
However, the online aspect of dating makes it tougher for today’s parents to monitor teen dating. Even if your teen isn’t actually allowed to go on physical dates, they can still communicate with love interests online. This poses a whole new set of risks that the parents of yesteryear didn’t have to face. It’s more important than ever that parents communicate well with their teens about dating.
Guiding Teenage Dating
Even though teenage romance is different now than in previous generations, today’s kids still need guidance from their parents. It might be harder to navigate teen dating now, but some principals still hold true.
Talk to Them
It might feel awkward to have “the talk” with your kid, but it’s still important to talk to your kids about sex and dating. Don’t assume that they know everything that they need to about safe sex or respectful dating and relationships. Have conversations with them about what they should expect from relationships and where they need to set their boundaries.
Set Privacy Standards
Your teen probably wants complete privacy when it comes to romance, but they might not be ready for complete privacy yet. You won’t be able to see every single text or hear every single conversation, but you might need to ensure some dating supervision.
If your teen is still young, you might have them go on supervised dates or have more parental controls on their phone. As your teen gets older, though, you’ll have to give them a little more freedom.
When you set privacy standards for your teen’s dating, be open with them about why you’re doing it and what you need to see from them to earn more trust. While they’re still new to dating and relationships, they will probably need more supervision. As they get older and show responsibility, you might back off a little more.
Be There for Them
When your kid starts dating, they need to know that you’ll be there for them if things go wrong. They need to know that they can call you to pick them up if they end up in a dangerous situation. They also need to know that they can count on you for emotional support if they get their heart broken.
Dating is scary, but exciting. Your teenager wants to branch out on their own and developing love interests, but they’re going to learn through experience. Actual relationships aren’t the same as what they’ve seen on TV and in movies. Relationships are a lot harder than that, and your kid will need you to be there for them as they navigate the dating world.
If your teen starts engaging in dangerous dating activities, intervene. Sometimes, teens who have mental health problems can use dating to exert independence from authority or to connect with others unhealthily. If you are worried that your teen son is taking a dangerous approach to dating, contact us today to speak to a representative about therapeutic treatment for struggling teens.