Feeling concerned as your teen starts engaging in boy-girl relationships (BGR)? It’s definitely not the end of the world, but it does signal a new chapter in the life of that emerging adult in your home. Here’s what you can do to ease the dating path for both you and your teen:
1. Set the ground rules together
Have a chat with your teen about your expectations as a parent and suggest some dating guidelines. Give your child the chance to state his or her preferences, then reach a compromise on whether you should be kept posted on where your teen goes, and to set reasonable curfews.
Talk about acceptable and appropriate behaviours when on a date, and what to do if a date behaves disrespectfully. Consider agreeing on a code word that can be sent over text to communicate that your teen is in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation, signalling for you to call them or pick them up.
If you are still concerned, how about suggesting a group or double date? Not only are they fun, they can also defuse any difficult or uncomfortable situations.
2. Keep the conversation flowing
While that initial discussion is very helpful, remember to regularly check in on how your teen is doing. He or she may seem moody and distant, full of grunts and shrugs; but knowing that you care and are available, gives them comfort and an option to turn to you for support and advice when they need it.
Along the dating journey, you may notice that your teen is not doing as well in school or is spending much less time with family and other friends – try to set limits on the amount of time he or she spends with the partner.
3. Talk about social media
Social media is a big part of many teens' lives today. As parents, it would be helpful to remind them about the potential consequences of sending inappropriate messages or posting inappropriate photos of themselves or their partners on social media sites. Remind them about their digital trail, where a photo or comment posted on social media could have a long life even after your teen has taken it down, as others could have easily taken a screenshot.
Ultimately, every teenager is different and the relationships they will have will be different and unique. While these are general guidelines, being a patient and considerate parent would go a long way to journeying with your teen on this exciting new journey.