Many parents will soon face the dating years with teenage boys and girls. In my own home, my middle son has begun to date. Its nerve-wracking to say the least; however, coping and helping your teen with this major point in life is rewarding at best. We can't keep our children little forever, we know this all to well. This is when it comes evident we must help them make the right decisions and stick to a healthy outlook on relationships. I have compiled some tips to help with this goal and transition from child to young adult.
The first thing to remember, is you must have faith in your own efforts to raise your son or daughter with good morals and responsibility. Until you can believe you have raised him or her right, you will have a rough time accepting the decision to date. Morals and responsibility are personal decisions when raising a child. This is what you pass on to them. If your not sure you did the right thing during your child's raising, speak with him or her, one-on-one to "review" lessons taught. For example, I set my own son down and reminded him how to treat others, how to show respect and how to take things slow. Lessons I had taught him growing up.
Secondly, make sure your child is aware of both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Abuse is rampant in many relationships nowadays and the last thing you or your teen wants is a toxic relationship, especially when dating has just begun. Ensure he or she knows you are there to help, to give advice and to listen. There are all kinds of abuse in relationships ranging from physical, sexual and mental. Don't feel you have no business nosing in your child's relationship, you have every right to know what is going on and who it is going on with. Your parenting is far from over, and being active is not only common sense, its responsible behavior.
Third, never make your child feel as if you are trying to prevent them from growing up. I have seen mother's who would step up and stop dates and phone calls out of sheer jealousy. Fathers have been known to do the same when it came to their daughters. The bottom line is, your child must be allowed to grow, to socialize. He or she is not a prisoner and was not created to keep you happy but to seek out their own destiny and make their own mistakes and milestones. You can keep a watchful eye without being a jail keeper. Allow the freedom, within reason, for your child to discover what relationships are about and to make his or her own decisions in love and life.
Fourth, get to know the family and person your son or daughter wants to date. Be active in knowing who your son or daughter is hanging out with, who this person's family is and their beliefs and actions. I came across a family that had a very protective nature, which was good at first, but it got to the point my son was constantly harassed and threatened. This family did not take into consideration that his morals and responsibility was not that of an adult but for his age were well advanced. The break-up was imminent when he began to fear for his life, and had done nothing to deserve such treatment. There are those who will go to extremes, be wary.
Finally, consider chaperoning dates until you get an idea how your child will react and be treated. Again, this isn't being overly nosy but being responsible. My son is 14, and always chaperoned, to ensure he knows how to keep himself under control, safe and ensure a memorable time. I keep my distance, as we all should, but I do keep my eye on the situation. Chaperoning not only keeps your child safe but may also help keep your mind at ease from parental worries common with dating teenagers. Just avoid the embarrassing comments and scenarios at all cost.
Dating is an exciting and fun time in your teenagers life, and sharing those moments through a healthy acceptance and advice will only enhance your relationship with your child through these years. I have set limits with my son, but given him the room to have his relationships without being intrusive or clingy. Its not easy, but then again, parenting is a tough road. Good luck.