By Denise Witmner at About.com
Teens need to learn many things while traveling through the life stage of adolescence. Help your teen learn about dating by knowing these five truths:
•It is normal for a teen to be interested in dating.
While some teens tend to be interested in dating earlier than others, it is a normal adolescent life stage experience for all teenagers. Girls are more vocal about the dating interest and tend to be interested to a greater degree at a younger age, but boys are paying attention also. There is no way around it; your teenager is going to want to date. When he/she does, you’ll have to step up to the plate with some parenting skills.(Try this parenting contract for teen dating too.)
•Teenagers do not know how to date.
A teen does not learn how to date in the classroom and most likely has only picked up on some of the basics, like respecting someone’s personal space, at home. But they haven’t learned the ins and outs of a give and take relationship yet. They will be learning this as they date, and ‘on the job’ type of training. You can reinforce the values that concern dating and relationships by discussing them with your teenager and modeling them with your spouse or significant other. Do not be afraid to bring up these issues. Do not feel that they are not important. Teens that are taught values are important will look for dates with similar good values. That is who you want your teen dating, right?
•Teens whose parents talk to them about dating are better prepared and happier.
You want your teenager to grow up happy, so remember that happiness in life is found in the journey. While the topic of teens and dating can make the most confident parent nervous, you should do your best not to project those anxious feelings when discussing dating - and the rules and limits of dating - with your teen. Relax and have informative dating conversations that will strengthen your relationship with your teen and empower you both to enjoy this part of their life.
•Your teen will need privacy.
As parents, we are not very comfortable not knowing what is going on in our child’s life. But as your teen starts to date, you will need to take a step back and not try to know ‘everything’. You may at first have a hard time and feel like something is wrong. That is normal – your parenting role is changing. Change always feels awkward at first. On the other hand, your teenager may want to chat about the experience. He/she may have some questions to ask. If so, make yourself available. But remember to try not to ‘read into’ any of the questions and begin prying.
•Your teen will still need you to be ‘around’.
When you have one of your talks with your teen about dating, you will need to set up a pick up scenario. Teens are notorious for getting themselves into situations that they have a hard time getting out of by themselves. Many times this happens on dates. Therefore, let your teenager know you are available for a ride home. You will pick him/her up at anyplace or anytime, even three o’clock in the morning. You will do so without any consequences to your teenager with the understanding that everyone makes mistakes in judgment. You simply want your teen to be safe. Arguments, drinking, etc can all be a part of a bad dating experience. So, hope for the best, prepare for the worst and be there for your teen.