When your teenager starts dating or falling in love it can be extremely difficult for parents who, naturally, worry about them.
No parent wants their teenager to get a broken heart and whether you have a son or a daughter, they are more than likely going to start dating, leaving them at risk of heartbreak at some stage.
Then there are other things to worry about – physical relationships and talking to your teen about their relationship.
Here are some tips on coping when your teenager falls in love.
Have the chat with your teenager.
It’s tough for teenagers to tell their parents when they are dating someone and they may hide it from you for ages. However, it is vital that you have an open-door policy. Talk to your teenager before you think they are seeing someone (or whatever they call it these days!) and this way, they won’t feel you are jumping on them once they have met someone.
If your teen is smitten, then you will want to get to know their new boyfriend/girlfriend and teens will usually resist them meeting you for a time. In fact, sometimes relationships will start and end before you even know they exist!
Understand that it’s a part of life.
We have all been there and we have all fallen in love at a young age. Don’t forget how that was for you and how innocent it was during that time. Just because your teenager is seeing someone doesn’t mean it will become a sexual relationship straight away and you should talk to your teen about this (but try not to annoy them either). One parent might have a closer relationship with their teen, so let them be the one to have that difficult conversation with them. Ensure you keep a good relationship with your teen so they can feel comfortable talking to you about their personal life.
Make sure there are boundaries.
Regardless of how well-behaved they are when they are still living at home, you need to have boundaries. When your teen falls in love, you may find it hard to get them to come home (and they may try to do less of their work so they can go see their beau straight away). Let your teenager know that this is not acceptable and that while you support them having a boyfriend/girlfriend, they can’t be allowed to spend all their time with them. Equally, it is important that your teenager doesn’t fall into the trap of dropping their pals while they are ‘loved up’ as this may leave them vulnerable to having no one to lean on if the relationship ends.
Be honest about relationships and what is ok and isn’t ok.
No parent wants to think their child will be sexually active, but it will happen sometime. It’s important that your teen knows what you think is acceptable – kissing and hugging etc. Talk to your teen about consent and not doing things to fit in or things they may be feeling pressured to do. This is tough as most teenagers will not want to discuss this, but you need to tell your teen that if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend then they need to be mature enough to discuss these things. Public displays of affection (PDA) should be considered too as teens can be overly touchy in public and no parent wants neighbours or friends saying this to them.
Let it flow.
In time this will pass, and your teen may end up heartbroken or be the one breaking hearts! Understand that this is a part of life and indeed, parenting. Let your teen free to learn but keep the boundaries and keep talking to one another.