For most parents, Parenting becomes very tough when their kids are in the teenage phase of their lives. The once obedient child (or subservient as the case may be) has started to develop a sense of critical thinking, independence, and decision making. Aside from that, the child is gradually being introduced into the complex spheres of human relationships. That same child can now get attracted to people (of the opposite sex), have strong feelings for them, and attempt to solidify that feeling with very intimate contact.
Right there! You as a parent would naturally try to step in and dictate what to do. However, this child is now a teenager; any wrong move could spell doom for your relationship with them. At worst, the child becomes withdrawn from you and makes mistakes (due to lack of communication). They would question your decisions. For instance, think of your attempt at dating back when you were young. Now, do you remember?
Of course, as parents, it is vital to help your teen navigate the waters of intimacy by setting specific rules. After all, they are a teen and still needs guidance. Some parents make the mistake of getting overly assertive; some get too lax. Some others get torn in between (probably due to past experiences) and do nothing. All of these would most times backfire.
How then do you set rules without scaring the teen into the shadows? How do you ensure that you are not too lax with your rules? How do you make sure your child makes the right decisions when you are not present? Should you try to make the kid live this life by your moral compass? Let’s examine the answers to all of these in the subsequent paragraphs.
Tips On Setting Rules For Your Dating Teenagers
Now that it is established that you are to set specific rules, how do you go about setting them?
1. You have to define your personal beliefs
As a parent, the first step to helping your kid is to identify where your beliefs lie. Now, don’t shy away from questioning yourself about important things like sex, sexual identity, public display of affection, and morality. The reason for this is simple; teenagers ask questions.
You have to be well-grounded in what you believe if you want to answer firmly. Are you personally open to sexual intimacy? Do you think sexual intimacy is wrong outside marital bonds? What is your thought about men or women, as the case may be)? Are you an advocate of equality? What about things like polyandry and polygamy? How do you feel about them?
2. Clarity; Evaluate Your Beliefs
Now that you have defined where your belief system is geared, you have to evaluate them and see if they would be beneficial or detrimental to your child’s growth. You have to be cautious in doing this; you need as much empirical evidence to back your evaluation as you can get. Would you advise your teenager to do certain things that align with your beliefs?
What would be the consequence of doing such on their social life, career, and mental health? Of course, you may not find answers to all of these questions. However, they help you steer the conversations with your teenage child in the right direction.
3. Talk To Your Kids About These Values
Conversations are the best ways to ensure your kid stays open. Some parents try as much as possible to run away from these sorts of conversations. As a result, the child assumes that they are not supposed to talk about it, hide in obscurity and make their own decisions.
As a parent, you must be willing to explore values and principles (on dating) with your teenager. You need to engage them in conversations about intimacy, about the opposite sex. Discuss emotions with them (of course, you were once there).
Discuss having crushes discuss liking opposite sex. Tell them about your own experiences. Tell him how you tried to circumvent punishment because of the one you loved. This helps you to achieve two things.
First, the child has a strong sense of belonging; they can always confide in you when they want to make decisions. The child would also be willing to open up when they make mistakes. Second, the child can pick up a few things from your own story. They intuitively absorb those mistakes and tries not to make them.
4. Ask questions
You need to learn how to ask questions during these conversations. Would you mind not getting carried away trying to advise them or tell your own story? Rather, ask them what they think about certain things. Present practical situations to them and ask them what their reactions would be. All these things allow them to open up to you more.
5. Teach the teenager about the consequences
If you indeed want to make it work with the rules, you have to show the teenager, not just tell. You have to make them see the consequences of breaking some of these rules. Be careful there; consequences – in this case – are not the metrics of punishment that you made yourself.
Instead, they are the natural after-effects of doing certain things. For instance, unprotected sex would most likely lead to pregnancy (or sexually transmitted disease). You have to take caution not to exaggerate things here.
Tell the teenager the truth as plainly as you can. That way, you don’t create fear for you in them. Instead, you create awareness of consequences and take responsibility.
6. Never make your teenager feel ridiculous
Naturally, teenagers ask questions; they ask a lot of them. These questions may seem to be impulsive to you, but they are not. They are usually borne out of amusement, fascination, deep thoughts, confusion, and sometimes, just plain curiosity. Whenever your teenager asks a dating question, you have to be there to answer them.
For instance, how do you make a girl like you? How do you relate with someone you crush on? How do you not feel embarrassed when talking to someone you like? When teenagers ask such questions, please don’t make them feel ridiculous or embarrassed. Instead, encourage them because those questions are windows to their thought processes and current experiences. Always remember to listen to them.
7. Learn not to pry
since you need to guide your teenager, you must understand when to allow them some time to think, digest, and implement what they have learnt. Prying makes the teenager avoid you, do things behind your back.
Honestly, you do not have to monitor all phone calls, text messages, or gifts your child receives from everyone. So that you know, you can’t be smarter than these teenagers; they always know their way around such restrictions. After showing them that much, they will come back to you at crossroads when you give them space.
What Ground Rules should you set for teenage dating
1. Teenagers Must Always Respect Their Dates
You have to allow your teenagers to understand respect. Set the rule of respecting their date’s choices and boundaries. You have to teach them to respect the other person’s body and feelings.
2. They must understand consent
You have to make your teenager understand consent. What it is and whatnot. You have to show them that consent is always explicit and affirmative. You have to explain the things they must not do without consent. You must also explain when and what to give their consent to. For example, reiterate to them not to engage in intimate touching, hugging, and similar things without permission.
3. They should be time and place limits
it is pertinent that you are a bit assertive here. The safety of your child, too, is paramount. When your teenager goes on a date trip, you have to be sure of the kind of place they go to. Also, the rule of timing is essential. Your child must not exceed certain time limits outside of date. It predisposes them to danger.
4. They must be clear on sexual intimacy
This happens to be a very dicey rule to set. However, teenagers under the legal age of consent must still stay away from sexual intimacy. However, for teenagers above the age of consent, you are free to set the rules based on your belief system. It is advisable, though, that they abstain from sex for now. Let them wait until they are stable enough to embrace the consequences of whatever decision they make.
5. They must avoid secret dates
Whenever your teenager intends to go on a date, you must instruct them to always inform you about it. In addition, they must never go on secret dates without your explicit permission.
6. They must be transparent
It is only right that – as parents – your child introduces you to their date. You must know who they are with and what kind of individual they are. A proper character evaluation would go a long way in advising your child to stay away or not. Transparency also transcends to their relationship with their dates. They must always be open about decisions, thoughts, and actions. This fosters faithfulness and a healthy relationship.
Parenting is indeed not easy. However, when done right, it could be gratifying. As parents, you always have to be there for your teenagers to provide advice, emotional support, and reality check. They need all the help to fully transition to adulthood without making mistakes that would damage them. As parents, you have to be there to give them just that.