Talking about Dating and First Relationships with Teens
When will your teen be interested in dating? Here’s how to discuss your teen’s first relationships—and breakups.
By: Gregory Germain, MD
Everyone struggles in the first years of dating: It is new, different and sometimes uncomfortable turf. You might even have your own memories—good or bad—about this time in your life. But try not to let this color your teen’s experience. Once the newness is gone and your teen is a little more at ease, dating can be fun and exciting. Before the age of about 15 or 16 most dating is done in groups—boys and girls go together to a movie, a sports game or a mall—and all get to know each other.
Have thoughtful talks with your teen about love being the most heartfelt human emotion. Teens are genuinely curious about how to know if you are in love and what you do if you are. They like hearing stories about their parents’ dating days as well. Just be real and open as you answer your child’s questions, and you’ll see that your child will open up about dating and relationships.
Dealing with Breakups
It will inevitably come… the first breakup. This experience can be painful at any time in a person’s life but the first can definitely be the worst since it’s happening in uncharted territory. Teenagers haven’t yet learned about how resilient a person can be, and they may feel like the pain will last forever. But remember that breakups are one of the major predictors of suicidal gestures in young people.
The vast majority of kids will get over their heartbreak in due time but here are some ways that you can help:
- be understanding about his pain
- don’t talk negatively about the ex-girlfriend or boyfriend
- be OK with your child feeling sad
- be proactive about your child getting together with other friends
- share a similar story from your experience