Most parents have some worries about the day when their children will begin dating and for a substantial number of parents it signals the point at which their children are making a move from childhood into adulthood. Frequently, it is also seen as the point when your children take their first steps out alone and this is often taken as a sign that they no longer need you. This is clearly not the case. Dating is just another stage on the long road of normal teen development and they certainly do still need you – and will do so for many years to come. Nevertheless, this can be a difficult time in a teenager’s life and there is a lot which can be done do to smooth the way for both of you.
Like many other things, success in dating begins with education and it is essential to get together with your teenagers before they begin dating to discuss what makes a successful relationship. It is very easy to assume that your children already appreciate the ins and outs of dating but they most likely won’t. After all, most of their knowledge on the subject will probably have been gleaned from television where the majority of the relationships depicted are not meant to reflect the real world but merely to entertain the audience. Your children must be taught just what it means to be in a loving and supportive relationship and there is no better way for them to discover just what this means than by talking with you about your own personal knowledge and experience. Naturally, it also follows that your children will learn not simply from what they hear from you, but from what they see and so setting a good example in the way that you conduct your own relationship is extremely important.
When your children begin dating you should enter into what should be an ongoing discussion about relationships. Your children’s dates are not always going to go as they or your expect and they are going to need someone to turn to when they run into difficulties. Thus, it is extremely important that you maintain a line of communication and continue to talk about how they ought to be treating other people in a relationship and how they should expect to be treated themselves.
Meeting your son’s or daughter’s date for the very first time can sometimes be a nerve wracking moment, but you should try to make this meeting as comfortable as you can and be both respectful towards and kind to your teenager’s date. And resist the temptation to make the classic mistake of giving the couple a lecture on this first meeting during which you lay down the rules for going out with one another. Any rules which you decide to impose are for your child and not for his or her date and should be discussed with your child alone and in private. Also, while it is always possible that you will take an instant dislike to your teenager’s date, you ought not to let your teenager or his date sense this and should go out of your way to be supportive. Once you have taught your children how to behave in a relationship you need to trust them to make their own decisions and should not interfere unless you believe that the relationship is putting your teenager in harm’s way.
It is not always easy to watch your kids growing up and meeting and getting close to new people. But, provided you take the right steps and teach them what to expect from and how to conduct themselves in a relationship, then there is a very good chance that things will work out and that problems will be minimized for both of you.