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No one wants to talk about teenager dating but it’s something every parent has to deal with.
What type of boundaries should you set?
How do you enforce these boundaries without making your teen feel ashamed or guilty?
Every teenager is unique. There’s no one right answer when it comes to teenage dating advice for parents.
You want to be supportive but keep them safe.
Here’s how to offer dating advice for a teenager and talk to them without coming off as overbearing.
Teenage Dating Advice for Parents
In order to learn about your teen’s relationships, you need to understand what teenager dating entails.
Even if you’re fairly young yourself, dating is drastically different today than when you were a teenager.
Here is some teenage dating advice for parents before you decide to jump headfirst into a conversation.
Understanding the Dynamics of Teenager Dating
The first thing you need to know is that teens don’t really date anymore – at least not in the traditional sense of the word.
This doesn’t mean that they’re running around and hooking up with whoever is in front of them. It just means the dynamic changed.
Think about it, “dating” is a pain in the butt: asking someone out takes a lot of confidence and going on an actual date is super high pressure.
Instead, they get to know people through texts and groups of friends. They learn who a person is before they start a relationship instead of figuring that out later.
You want your teen to build healthy relationship skills before they leave your house. You want them to know what’s healthy behavior and what’s abusive. You can’t do this if you never let them date and make them feel afraid of you.
This is particularly challenging for single parents raising teens of an opposing gender. It’s uncomfortable, but you need to let them know that they can talk to you without facing anger, interrogation, or guilt.
Identifying and Addressing Abusive Behavior
The first thing you need to do is make sure they feel comfortable talking to you. Get to know their friends and the people they date.
It’s important to learn how to both identify and address abusive behavior. Remember that sometimes your kid might be the victim and other times they may be the perpetrator: no one is perfect.
- Persistent visits, calls, or texts.
- Going through a partner’s phone.
- Physical violence.
- Jealousy of a partner’s accomplishments and lack of support.
- Ignoring a partner’s wishes, feelings, or consent.
- Gaslighting: telling a partner their feelings are wrong or unjustified.
- Requiring a report wherever they go. This is often masked as concern.
If they’re facing abuse, let them know that it isn’t their fault and they don’t deserve to be treated that way – someone will and should treat them right.
If your teen is engaging in abusive behavior, do not ignore it or write it off as standard teenager dating behavior.
In both cases, if abuse goes unchecked, your teen’s dating and social habits will continue well into adulthood.
How to Casually Offer Dating Advice for a Teenager
Now that you (kind of) understand teenage dating, you need to find a way to broach the topic so you can offer dating advice for your teenager.
Always keep things casual – don’t make it feel like an interrogation. Start by just asking general questions about their friends and acquaintances.
This could take time: it won’t happen overnight if you typically react with anger. They need to know they can trust you.
After you’ve gotten to this point, you want to make sure you cover all the basics of dating advice for a teenager.
- Teach them what abuse looks like. Let them know it’s not always obvious like in the movies.
- Teach them about giving and asking for clear consent.
- Be reassuring (not dismissive) during a breakup just as you would with an adult.
- Trust them to make their own decisions. You’ve taught them well.
- Keep an eye out: offer objective advice as needed.
- Never make them feel guilty for their actions unless they’re engaging in abusive behavior.
What You Need to Know About Any Teen Dating App like KIK, Telegram, and WhatsApp
Any teen dating app is just that: a new way to communicate. Lots of these apps like KIK offer self-destructing and encrypted messages.
This freaks parents out.
Teach your teen how to text responsibly. Let them know that photos sent over the internet are there for good and can get into the wrong hands.
Other than that, don’t worry about the phones too much: you already can’t control your teen when they’re outside your house.
Offer solid dating advice for your teenager, teach them to identify abuse, make sure they can trust you, and they should make the right decisions.