Talk to them about love, dating and sex. These things may go hand-in-hand, so to speak, but they are three different things and you need to tell your teen the differences. Share with your teen that to have a fulfilling loving relationship, you need to get to know someone. Love is not just the butterflies in your stomach feelings you get when that person is in the room. That is just a small part of it. When you have those feelings, and they are reciprocated by the other person, then you spend time getting to know them through dating. All the while your teen will need to be told about your family values and physical relationships that involve sex.
Set the limits. Crushes don't often end up as long lasting relationships but they do come with some problems that you will need to nip in the bud, especially if the crush is reciprocated. The one that most often annoys family members is the use the phone. If your teen has a cell phone, they will always be on it. Texting friends about what the object of the crush said that day, talking to the crushie, etc. It makes it hard to get their attention, plus they may ignore responsibilities that need to be completed. All of these things can be handled by talking with your teen and coming up with a win-win strategies that get their chores and school work done and give them time to spend with their special someone. Using parenting contracts can help with this.
Avoid power struggles. You can do this by communicating openly with your teen and being fair about what they can and cannot do. For instance, if your teen wants to go to the movies with a date and you feel they are too young to go on one-to-one dates, allow them to go to the movies with a group of friends where the date is included. Compromise is the name of the game.
Be there to listen. While you can share your dating stories if they add to the benefits of the conversation, listen to your teen more than talk. Pay attention to what is going on with their crush. This is especially important as crushes don't always end up becoming relationships. Be a shoulder to cry on, the person to prop them up and give them space when they need it. You'll be able to figure out which one your teen needs as you go and you can even ask them what they want from you if you are unsure.
A note about your teen's first crush: How you and your teen handle their first crush will set the basis for their future teen dating relationships and possibly beyond. If you can establish a positive way of handling the first one, all others will follow naturally the same way. If things go sour at home because your teen is crushing on someone you don't like, or you give too much flexibility and they have sex, dating limits and communication about dating in their future relationships will be much harder to deal with on your part and theirs. While you can turn those situations around, it's best to try and avoid it by following the tips above.
- Teen Dating Resources
- Teen Dating Quiz: Are they friends or are they dating?
- When should teens start dating?
- Teen Breakups
- Talk to a Teen with Looking for a Date Jitters
- Talk to Your Teen About Dating
- Preteens and Dating? A Dos and Don'ts List
- Parents Don't Like Their Son's Girlfriend
- Teen Daughter's Boyfriend Thwarting College Plans
- Teen Books on Dating and Love
- Dating Violence: What Can a Parent Do?
- Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence