So it happened last year….a boy asked my daughter out on a date. My husband and I knew it was bound to happen one day but we weren’t quite ready when it did. She was 15 and had never really spoken about being interested in anyone before, but that all changed when this boy came around. As much as we didn’t want to tackle the discussion regarding dating for teens with our daughter it was time….I think our conversations made us even closer.
I don’t know whether our discussions would be any different if we had a son, we have all girls, but for the most part I don’t think it would have been. First my husband and I spoke alone about our fears, the rules we had as a teen, and the boundaries we thought a 15 year old should have. I will start by saying all families are different, and I can only speak to our experience but because it turned out so well I like to share how we approached the subject and how it brought us closer together.
Dating for Teens
- Ask what their definition of dating is – When I first heard the word “date” come out of my teenagers mouth I flinched. My thoughts went immediately to what I didn’t want her to do, didn’t want anyone to do with her, and oh the heartbreak that was sure to come. 🙁 When we sat down I didn’t want to assume anything. I am conservative, raise my daughters to be as such, and hoped her definition of dating was much more innocent than what flashed in my mind when I hear High Schoolers are dating….and it was! She said for her it meant they “hung out a lot at school, talked on the phone, and MAYBE held hands.” That gave me a starting point for our conversations about whether we would allow it or not. Advice: don’t assume your definition is the same as theirs, you may be surprised and pleased with what they have to say.
- Ask what their boundaries are -We all hope to raise kids who respect their bodies, and have boundaries for others in those regards. Talking to your teen about what they’re comfortable with, and what is unacceptable when and if they start dating needs to be a part of the conversation. My daughter had obviously thought about it because when asked she was firm in stating that she was comfortable with holding hands but nothing beyond that, and we felt comfortable with that as well.
- Discuss the rules – For us the rules for her were that if they wanted to “go out” they needed to be in a group, or he was free to come to our house when we were home. We didn’t know his parents well enough to know what type of supervision there would be over at his house so our house was preferred and she respected that. I think kids respect rules, at least ours do. It shows you care and want the best for them. Our feeling is that discussing what rules should be put into place with her is far more effective than dictating them to her without hearing her thoughts and feelings.
- Have an open dialogue – My daughter is very open with me, always has been. I wear my heart on my sleeve and have taught her to do the same. When it “wasn’t fun anymore” and she felt like he wasn’t the type of person she had initially thought he was we talked about it. In the end she decided that she would end it because “he isn’t making me as a priority”…..and seriously, I was SO proud of her for realizing that herself. Nevertheless it still caused heartbreak and that wasn’t the part I was looking forward to. But because she was open to talking about it I think it eased the pain a bit quicker and she was glad that she hadn’t compromised her boundaries because that would’ve only made things worse. I think the whole experience brought us closer because we talked about it often, and she knew she could be honest about everything.
Dating for teens advice I can give to sum it up: It isn’t easy, none of it is. I have 3 daughters and she is the first to go through it so we’ve figuring it out along the way. #1 thing I would say with all of this is trust your gut and instill in your teen to trust theirs! If something just doesn’t seem right there’s probably a reason why and you shouldn’t ignore it. #2 trust that you’ve instilled your values in them and they will remember them when they’re confronted with a difficult decision (they do listen!). 😉
I’ll be sharing teen dating discussions each month with a few friends, to read what my friends Staci and Kristen have to say about teen dating, read here:
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