As a child enters puberty, the primary worry for most parents are regarding teens and dating. The chances of your teen starting to date are naturally alarming. It’s easy to dread your child getting hurt, getting in over their head, being manipulated or heartbroken, and significantly growing up and leaving the nest. Even though to us, it’s uncomfortable and scary, we will always have to remember that this is a normal and healthy part of any young adult’s emotional development. As parents, we often aren’t sure what our role should be when teens are old enough to start falling in love and dating. Should we be laying down the dating rules for 15 years old? Or minding our own business? Teenagers can be prickly about their privacy, especially when it comes to something as intimate as romance. The potential for embarrassment all around can prevent us from giving them any advice for having healthy and happy relationships.
How has teen dating changed?
Do you miss the ’90s? What wasn’t to love about the quirky decade that gave young minds amazingly peculiar things like Salute Your Shorts, Pogs, “MMMBop,” and JNCOs? As a parent now in your late 20s or early 30’s bearing witness to modern formative cultural contributions such as Twitter, Miley Cyrus, and the Kardashians, we are pretty sure you would be nostalgic for times when everything was simpler. But what exactly do teenagers dating even look like these days? Wondering if it’s the same as it has always been? Well, not to mention, the way teens date these days has changed quite a bit from just a decade or so ago. Clearly, the rapid explosion of social media and ever-present smartphones are two of the biggest influences on the challenging world of teen dating kids who don’t even need to leave their bedrooms to “hang out.” While there may be many disadvantages of teenage dating, there lies many plus points too. So, enjoy if your teen is having one!
Developing romantic relationships are a fundamental part of growing up. Social media and smartphones now permeate the lives of many teens, including their romantic relationships. The world of teen dating is full of ups and downs. As children grow and mature into adulthood, their interests may turn to date – this can be a rough transition for them. If you are a teen parent, you must go through these five truths about teens and dating before giving them your advice on relationships.
5 truths about teens and dating
- The Social Media
Apart from in-person flirting, social media is the most common way to express interest in someone they have a crush on. Although most teen romantic relationships do not start online, digital platforms serve as an important tool for flirting and showing romantic interest. Half of the teens tend to add people on Facebook or another social media site as a way to show romantic interest, while the rest express attraction by liking, commenting on, or interacting with that person on social media.
- Your Teen Needs “The Talk”
It’s important to talk to our teens about various dating topics and dating apps such as personal values, expectations, and peer pressure. As parents, we need to be open to them about everything from treating their partner to our—and their—beliefs around sexual activity. It can be helpful to outline what early dating may be like for them. Even if our perspective is a bit outdated, sharing it can get the conversation started. We must ask them what they have in mind about dating and what questions they may have. Sharing some of our own experiences would be a great help. Also, going over the topics of consent, making them feel safe and comfortable, and honoring their own and others’ feelings are a few things they need to be taught. Most importantly, we need to tell them about our expectations regarding being respectful of their dating partner and vice versa.
- Young mind needs guidance
While it’s not healthy to get too involved in our teen’s dating life, there may be times when we will have to intervene. Teens and dating are indeed a fragile combination. If we overhear them saying mean comments or using manipulative tactics, we need to speak up as parents. Similarly, if they are on the receiving end of unhealthy behavior, we need to step in and help out. There’s a small window of time between their dating and entering the adult world. We need to focus on providing them guidance and helping them succeed in their future relationships. Whether they experience some serious heartbreak, or they are a heartbreaker, adolescence is when teens begin to learn about romantic relationships firsthand. As parents, it’s us who needs to talk openly with our child about sex, how to know what they are ready for, and safe sex. It’s quite apparent that our children may feel uncomfortable talking about this stuff with us, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it a try. All they need is important and useful advice, a caring ear, and an open shoulder. How we parent our children during this new stage can have big ramifications on their future relationships, the lifestyle choices they make, and the mature adult they become. The more open and supportive we would be with them, the better.
- Teens, dating and their break-ups
Teenagers often take steps to severe digital ties with their ex-partner after break-ups. Half of the teen daters tend to delete their ex-partner from their mobile, untag or delete photos of themselves, while others tend to unfriend or block their ex on social media. While there is no gender discrimination when it comes to removing ex from their phones or blocking their partner from texting them, teen girls with relationship experience are more likely to block or unfriend an ex on social media.
- Dating helps to build relationship skills
It’s just the same as starting any new phase of life. Teenage dating is both exciting and scary—for both teenagers and their parents. Young generations will have to put themselves out there by expressing romantic interest, risking rejection, and figuring out how to be a dating partner. New communication skills, caring, thoughtfulness, intimacy, and independence collide with a developing sexuality, limited impulse control, and the urge to push boundaries. No wonder our teens are having some unrealistic ideas about dating based on what they have been watching online, in the movies, or reading in books. But that’s not what real life is. Real-life dating doesn’t mimic teen Netflix or a romantic movie. Yes, we need to tell them that first dates can be awkward and that it might not end in romance. Today’s dates often happen in a group setting or via Snapchat—but the feelings are just as real. As today’s teens spend a lot of time texting and messaging potential love interests on social media, to some, this approach seems more comfortable. But for others, especially teens who are shy, meeting in person can be more awkward.
Moving On…is the key to Happiness!
When it comes to teens and dating, many parents are rightfully worried about heartbreaks. Losing love can be painful for anyone. But if it’s our teen’s first real love and the relationship ends before they want it to, feelings of loss can seem overwhelming. Like the feelings of passion in a new relationship, the newness and rawness of grief and loss can be intense — and devastating. And that’s why they have named it a ” broken heart.” When any problem occurs in a teenage relationship and it ends, he/she really needs support. Losing a first love isn’t something we have been emotionally prepared to cope with. So, why not call up their close friends to hang out or invite them for dinner? Friends and family members are the only people left for them to lean on. If their heartbreaks by any means, we must help them out in finding someone they can talk to rather than expecting them to “just get over it.” It doesn’t seem very easy for many of the teenagers to get back to their normal life, but gradually these feelings grow less intense. Thus, relationships teach us both: how to love and how to be loved in return. So, dear parents now is the right time to bring a change in our perspectives and become open-minded regarding love affairs. No matter how hard it is, eventually, people move on, and that’s the damn truth! Relationships — whether they last for two weeks, two years, or a lifetime — are all the golden opportunities to experience love on its many different levels. So, it’s better that we back out of the picture and let them make their own decisions. But yes! We can still ensure that all of our advice is safely tucked inside their metaphorical wristlet every time they head out the door.
All the best!