Teens and dating

It can be a difficult time when teens enter the dating world. That's why I talked with a family counselor about how to handle all that can come with dating. Here's advice for parents from Family Counselor Kelly Olson.

Establish some rules with:

  • Social media
  • Online dating
  • Curfews and consequences
  • Remaining informed of who your adolescent will be with and where
  • When car dates are allowed

Also, talk to your teen about rules within a relationship (frequency of contact, how to treat partner).

Things to Consider

  • Age. Difficult to establish an age as every teen is different from the next, but some general guidelines to keep in mind are to encourage group activities for ages 13-14 and below. Intense solo dating at age 13 may not be developmentally appropriate and could put your child at risk. One-on-one dating usually begins around 15 or 16.
  • Never prohibit relationships. Telling your adolescent that they are NOT allowed to date someone will only increase their desire to do so.
  • Get to know your teen’s partner. Find ways to encourage contact with your family; find fun activities (skiing, movies, going to a water park) where you can monitor their relationship.
  • Remember this is normal and OK! Expect that your child is going to get seriously interested in a dating partner. This is part of normal development and needed for them to learn about relationships.
  • Have conversations with your child about the relationship. Open the communication window, letting them know that they can talk with you about anything without judgment.
  • Manage your own emotions. It is difficult to deal with your child becoming sexually active or romantically involved. Take a deep breath and take a break if needed, but most of all, manage your emotions. An overly reactive or angry response will cause your child to shut down and learn that these subjects are off limits with you.
  • Online dating. Have a discussion about possible risks, people pretending to be what they are not etc.
  • Social media. Have discussion about how much privacy your adolescent will have. Parents need to educate themselves about the sites.
  • Privacy. Be very careful of invading their privacy. Allow some privacy but also consider whether you feel if you believe your adolescent is in engaging in risky behavior, check on them.
  • Talk about sex. Avoiding this subject will not help your adolescent. Share your values about sex and provide information. This will also help establish a line of communication.
  • Discuss potential problems. How will they handle difficult situation, how will they say no, how will they handle peer pressure, situations that are risky.

About the Author...
Kristi Larson