Teen Talk! A young girl’s perspective.
Becoming a teenager is not quite what I anticipated it to be. I consistently feel pressured to “go out” with someone and to have a boyfriend. Most of the conversations I have with my friends revolve around boy / girl stuff: what we want to try or what we are willing to do if “he” asks me out… Everyone seems to be tempted and curious. Even my friends that make good choices seem to get caught up in the relationship game.
Parents, how can we help our teen son’s and daughter’s maneuver the intense teen dating scene? There are a lot of important factors to take into consideration when having conversations with your teen son or daughter about dating. Too many for us to completely cover in this blog post. But let’s touch on a few conversation starters, hopefully this will help you along when the teen dating scene hits your home.
- Encourage your teen to take their time. There really is no need to rush into a boyfriend / girlfriend relationship. One-on-one, exclusive dating is not really all that it’s cracked up to be. Dating for the sake of dating is not what dating is really all about. As the parent, look for teachable moments that will help your teen understand the purpose for dating: to learn more about yourself, to learn what you like and don’t like, to learn how to communicate, to learn how to care for others … Have you defined the purpose for dating in your home?
- Help your teen understand that dating is not about pleasing oneself. So often young people join the dating scene only to focus on their own needs. The teen dating world is often a platform for fulfilling selfish desires. Is the boy dating so that he can prove he is man enough to have the good looking girl hanging on him? Is the young girl dating for the sake of feeling wanted or being part of the popular crowd?
- Serving others. What if your teen looked at dating differently? What if your teen considered this an opportunity to serve someone else? Part of being mature enough to date is realizing that you will need to put other’s needs, interests, likes and dislikes ahead of your own needs, interests, likes and dislikes. Does your teen understand that the foundation to a healthy dating relationship is serving the other person and being a good friend?
- Protect their heart. A teen who truly understands the reality of the teen dating world realizes the importance of protecting their heart. The media is bombarding our teens with a message that shouts “you have to be in love, to be loved.” Does your teen think that their value lies in whether or not they’re in a romantic relationship? When their friends start pairing off, it gets lonely. As a parent, look for these types of scenarios and address it head on. Value is not based on boy / girl stuff during the teen years. Value is based on who they are as an individual. Train your son or daughter to protect their heart by placing value on themselves and their future.
- Have lots of friends that are guys and lots of friends that are girls. One of the most powerful triggers for teens to become sexually active is alone time and exclusive dating. When our teens stop hanging out in groups and stop engaging in fun and casual friend time, there is reason to be concerned. The trap for sexual temptation will become very powerful once friendships and groups are lessened or eliminated.
- Set the boundary in advance and know how to communicate the boundary. This is a lesson all within itself. But allow me to share briefly, if your teen son or daughter is unable to look at you and share what their physical boundary is, what leads you to believe they will be able to look at their date and share what their physical boundary?
No doubt I could list several more conversation starters. But this list is plenty to get you started. As your teen enters into the dating world you will be amazed at how desperate they will become to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. If you don’t experience this personally with your son or daughter, you will notice it with one of their friends. It’s the “thing to do” at this stage of life. We might think it’s ridiculous, but our teen doesn’t necessarily agree. So, we have an opportunity to help them see the bigger world, the better choices, the amazing opportunities that are still in front of them. Don’t sit back and hope they figure this out on their own. Start the conversation and lay the foundation for the teen dating guidelines within your home. The earlier you have such conversations, the better off you will be!