Most parents have some fears about the day when their children will start dating and for many parents it marks the point at which a son or daughter is making the break from childhood into adulthood. It is also often seen as the point at which your children take their first steps out alone and this is often seen as a signal that they no longer need you. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dating is just another stage on the long road of normal teen development and they certainly still need you – and will continue to do so for many years to come. Nevertheless, this can be a difficult point in a teenager’s life and there is a great deal that you can do to make life easier for both of you.
As with most other things, successful dating starts with education and it is important to sit down with your teenagers before they start dating and talk about what makes a good relationship. It is all too easy to assume that your children will know the ins and outs of dating but they probably won’t. After all, most of their information on the subject will probably have been gleaned from television where most relationships are not intended to reflect the real world but to entertain the viewers. Your children need to understand just what it means to be in a loving and supportive relationship and there is no better way to learn just what this means than by talking with you about your own views based upon personal experience. This said, it also follows that your children will learn not just from what they hear from you, but from what they see with their own two eyes and so setting a good example in the way that you conduct your own relationship is very important.
Once your children start dating you should begin what will become an ongoing dialogue about relationships. Dating will not always go as you or your children expect and your teenagers will need someone to come to when they have a problem. As a result, it is important that you keep the lines of communication open and also that you continue the discussion about how they should be treating others in a relationship and just how they themselves should expect to be treated.
Meeting your teenage son’s or daughter’s date for the first time can be a tense moment, but it is important to make this meeting as relaxed as possible and to be both kind to and respectful towards your teenager’s date. And don’t fall into the classic trap of giving the pair a lecture on this first meeting during which you lay down the rules for seeing each other. Any rules which you decide to impose are for your son or daughter and not for his or her date and should be discussed with your child in private. Also, while it is always possible that you will take an instant dislike to your teenager’s date, you should not let this show and should go out of your way to be supportive. Once you have taught your teenagers how to conduct themselves in a relationship you have to trust them to make their own decisions and should only intervene if you believe that the relationship is placing your teenager in danger.
It is not always easy to see your children growing up and meeting and getting close to new people. However, as long as you take the right steps and teach them what to expect from and how to behave in a relationship, then there is a good chance that things will go well and problems will be minimized for both of you.