When teen dating becomes too much
Statistics from a study on risky youth behavior published in 2015 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tell the story: We cite these numbers to make two key points.First, to acknowledge that some pre-teens are way past the “sex sounds gross” stage, and second, to suggest that the decline in early sexual activity seems to – we have no data for this – coincide with adult willingness to discuss sex and sexuality in an open, honest, and direct manner.When you’re talking to your teenager about creating boundaries – and this goes for friendships, too – it helps to think of them in three categories: Healthy boundaries are based on respect. This may cause some static at home – you can imagine the tantrums, but you can handle that.Your teen may need help defining their emotional, physical, and digital needs at first, but once they understand the concept of healthy boundaries, they’ll catch on quickly. , for instance, is a good default place to start with regards to physical boundaries. Boys and girls alike need to know that when they make a decision about a particular boundary, be it emotional, physical, or digital, then communicate that decision to a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, that’s it: that’s their rule and it should be followed. One child may be ready at fifteen, another might not: all fun details for you to work out over family dinner.In a respectful relationship, your significant other:with a love interest, talk them through these bullet points. Emotions and mistakes can be understood and forgiven – as long as individuals own their emotions, admit their mistakes, and work to maintain regain trust when things go off-kilter.Remind them that compromise in a relationship does not mean they compromise on non-negotiables such as emotional, physical, and digital boundaries. Compromise means coming to a mutual decision on what movie to go see, where to sit at lunch, or what time to meet at the mall – not shifting their reasoned decisions on important matters or abandoning their personal values and ideals. Love and romance at any age can be confusing and chaotic, for that matter. There are, however, certain behaviors that constitute genuine red flags, and indicate that a relationship – or one person’s approach to a relationship – is dysfunctional and potentially toxic.There comes a point when your child moves past the days of that simple, timeless note, passed through an intermediary at the lunch table: Most of us remember that note.Writing it, receiving it, delivering it – the whole deal. And it’s the beginning of a journey that lasts a lifetime.
We’re talking about actual romantic dating, not elementary and middle school crushes that are all sugar and no spice.
If and when they do start dating, however, it’s important they understand the basic notions of boundaries and respect at their most fundamental, non-dating levels, then learn how these ideas play out in the wide, wonderful (terrifying for parents) world of relationships and dating.
The parent resource website Ten to Twenty Parenting offers great advice on the role of respect in romantic relationships. Inside all that, though, a romantic relationship should be something that enriches life and adds love and joy rather than stress and negativity.
It it’s real love and the beginnings of true partnership, it will last. Your teen needs to know there’s no good reason to rush into anything when they’re still in high school. That’s way more than your kid needs on their plate.
They should be worrying about passing the next trig exam and finishing their group project for history class.