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By Rachel Ehmke
As parents we often aren’t sure what our role should be when a child is old enough to start dating. Should we be laying down the rules? Minding our own business?
Teenagers can be prickly about their privacy, especially when it comes to something as intimate as romance. The potential for embarrassment all around can prevent us from giving them any advice for having healthy and happy relationships.
Teenagers do look to us for guidance, though—even when they’d rather die than acknowledge that they are—and we can often have more influence than we realize.
With this in mind, here are some relationship Dos and Don’ts you can share with your kids. You can start bringing these things up long before they start dating, and continue affirming them as kids get more experience. And do your best to lead by example and model these values in your own relationships, too.
Being comfortable with someone means:
Some people will drop all their friends after they start dating someone. They might not mean for it to happen, but it still does. Don’t be that person! No one wants a friend who will throw her over for someone else, and you still need a social life outside your boyfriend or girlfriend.
It’s natural to share interests with the person you’re dating, but you also need to keep developing an identity outside of that person, too. Keep thinking about what you like and what you need. Have an interest that’s just yours. It will improve your self-esteem, and being confident in yourself makes you more likely to be confident in your relationship.
If you encounter a problem in your relationship, don’t panic. A problem does not automatically mean that the relationship is doomed. However, problems only get bigger when people hide from them. It’s much better to admit when something is wrong, talk about it together, and try to fix it together. It might feel scary, or awkward, to do this, but you still should. It will get easier over time, and working through problems is going to be part of any good relationship.
We tend to think of conflict as a bad thing, but it isn’t always. Conflict can even bring a couple closer together if they are able to stick to these rules during a disagreement:
If you are in an abusive relationship your boyfriend or girlfriend might:
Kids don’t confide in their parents as much as they get older, so when kids do feel like talking, really make an effort to be available and listen.
You (and your teen) might feel awkward talking about romantic relationships, but do your best to look comfortable during any talks. If you look too worried or negative they will be less likely to come to you if they want to talk.
Try to be supportive of your son or daughter’s romantic choices unless you truly need to speak out. Remember that teens can be extremely emotional and defensive — especially in response to parental criticism. You don’t want to drive them away from you (and further into the relationship you’re questioning) by being too judgmental.
Originally published on childmind.org.
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