Black and white blanket rules may not work when setting boundaries with teenage relationships.
So, your teen has a boyfriend or girlfriend and you want to set boundaries. It feels like just yesterday that you were changing their nappies and and wiping their tears away after a fall. In hindsight it seemed a whole lot easier back then. This is unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory for any parent.
It is important to set boundaries when your teenager is in a relationship. These boundaries help protect your child as well as teaching them important life skills and lessons. Finding the right balance is no easy feat though. You want your teenager to respect your wishes and rules but at the same time keeping an honest level of communication is important to you.
Explaining Why Boundaries Are Important
It is a good idea to explain to your teen that you will be setting boundaries. Explaining to them that as a parent it is your job to keep them safe and on the right track. It is very unlikely that this will be welcomed but at least you are not catching them off-guard.
Boundaries Should Be Age Appropriate
You may feel uncomfortable leaving your fifteen year old alone with their boyfriend or girlfriend but completely different a couple of years later when they ask to watch a movie together. For this reason black and white blanket rules may not work when setting boundaries with teenage relationships. It is important to assess things as you go and do what feels comfortable for you as the parent.
Work With The Other Parents
This won't always be possible but communicating with the other parents in this scenario may be beneficial. Your child may be uncomfortable with you speaking to the parents of their new boyfriend or girlfriend but there could be a host of benefits such as looking out for each other and ensuring you are all on the same page when it comes to expectations and boundaries.
Suggest An Open Door Policy
Teenage relationships are full of excitement and fun but they also involve a lot of uncertainties, fears and firsts. It is paramount that your teen knows that they can talk to you about these things without judgement. This can be challenging but ultimately sensitivity and empathy play a huge part in this.
Speak To Your Teen About Consent
This topic may feel uncomfortable but it can be detrimental on many levels if it is avoided. Consent is something that both parties should be fully informed about so that the relationship is a safe and respectful arena for everyone involved. You can read about consent here.
Boundaries Go Both Ways
While it is important to set boundaries as the parent it is also important to set boundaries for ourselves. Having an open and honest line of communication may reveal some truths about what your teen is comfortable with you asking about or doing. Meeting in the middle is not always ideal (or even appropriate) but it is a good idea to consider what they are comfortable with and set some boundaries in both directions.