Just yesterday our almost thirteen year old went to visit a boy. We’ve met his parents, and we know that ‘he’s very nice’ and all that… but still…it kind of threw me. And even more so my husband. You see, we haven’t had that discussion yet. Is Kayla allowed to date? What are the rules? We’re not really sure how we feel about the idea of our first born dating…
So, this morning i decided to research the topic a little, see if i could find anything helpful. After a big cup of coffee, with more than a ‘regular’ amount of cookies, this is what i came up with… I hope that if someone out there is going through the same issue, this info comes in handy 😉 .
Things to remember when your child starts showing an interest in ‘dating’…
1. Chat to your child openly – This will help you gauge your child’s level of maturity. Once you have established that your child is ‘ready’ to start ‘dating’, you might feel more at ease allowing them to date.
2. Keep it in perspective – ‘Dating’ at this age is generally still very innocent, and you can ‘insist’ that it remains as group dates or dates with a chaperone etc to start off with, while everybody gets comfortable with the new phase in your child’s life. Remember, this new phase is also stressful for your child.
3. Be involved – By showing your child that you are going to make the effort to trust them they are less likely to try and do things ‘behind your back’. The last thing you want is to have a teenager (or tween) that’s trying to sneak around and hide a budding relationship. Things can only get complicated and messy.
4. Set boundaries – Make sure that your child knows the phone and texting boundaries, what your expectations are with regards to spending time together (ie time limits etc.), etc. The conversation may be a little awkward, but it needs to be said!
Some of the rest of the advice that i found and loved included advice from other parents. Check what these moms and dads had to say on the subject…
The ‘Double Duty’ by Jo Ann Jordan Winschel – “In our house, we allowed dating to start at 9th grade. But for our daughter, the boy had to be willing to go on a “double date” with my husband and I first. If the boy won’t spend time with us, then he can’t be alone with our daughter. Worked great for us!”
The ‘Sneak Attack’ by Jen, Ontario – “My Dad always said no dating until I was 16. When I was around 14, I wanted to go on a date but knew he wouldn’t let me. So we got a bunch of other couples together to go with us (movies) and I told my Dad it couldn’t possibly be a date with that many people there and that it was instead a “gathering”. He told me there was no debating that logic and I got to go. And then never again until I was just about to turn 16 and had my first serious boyfriend.”
But what if it doesn’t end well? Is there anything i can do to help my child cope? After all, it may be puppy love, but it’s still love…
1. Acknowledge your child’s pain and give them hope by saying something along the lines of ” I know you’re hurting, and it feels like the pain will never go away, but it will, and probably sooner than you think.’
2. Do NOT jump on the bandwagon and start saying how much you didn’t like you child’s ‘newly IN-significant other’…chances are they are only venting if they are saying something mean about that person, it will take a while for their feelings for that person to disappear. Saying that you don’t like them can only drive a wedge between you and your child.
3. Allow your child to feel sad – if that means that they want to spend a day (or a few) in their room, so be it. Just make sure that your child is looking after their basic needs. If you become worried about them not eating etc, or the depression lingers for more than a few weeks, counseling may be necessary.
4. Encourage your child to get out and get together with friends – when he’s ready, socializing can do the world of good!
5. Share something from your own adolescence – this can bring you and your teen closer, and can help your child see that these things, even though they’re difficult and unpleasant, happen to everybody and it may help your child to not feel so ‘alone’.
In the end, entering a new phase of life with our children is never easy. Accepting that they’re growing up can be scary and overwhelming, even at the best of times. At least we know that we are not alone!
If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends and family. Also, don’t forget to check out the rest of my weblog here (brightnbrainy.com) Thanks!