Help, My Teen Wants to Date!

   Written by on August 31, 2017 at 11:58 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

How do you feel about your teenage son or daughter dating?  Have you joked about chastity belts or sending your child away to school in the Tibetan Alps?  Before you start to price airplane tickets to the Himalayas, let’s look at several other ways to react to your teen wanting to date.

It is not easy watching your child grow up right before your eyes.  You initial reaction may be no way; my baby isn’t old enough to date.  Don’t overreact; remind yourself that he or she came to you for a reason.  Your teen made a decision to ask you; they didn’t have to ask.  Your teen could have told you after dating for months that they already have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

So now is a great opportunity to work on your communication and feedback skills.  First, allow your teen to feel safe talking to you about anything, even things about which they may feel uncomfortable.  Remember to listen objectively.  Some things may be tough to hear.  You must be able to listen first.  Your feedback should not sound like criticism or judgment.  Avoid saying to your teens, “Don’t do this, don’t do this, and for goodness sakes don’t do that!”  Instead, ask them challenging questions so that they learn to make good choices.  You want them to conclude, “I don’t think I am going to do that.”  This is your chance to teach your teen that being a good listener can make for a great date; listening is a huge part of showing respect in a relationship.

Now is the perfect time to talk to your teen about boundaries that need to be established.  Even group dates can go awry if the group makes a poor choice on their plans.  Have defined, known boundaries. For example, time frames for the date, driving privileges, responsible driver boundaries, the requirement for you to know your teen’s where abouts, appropriate activities, and appropriate dress should be discussed.

However, before you talk with your teen, you need to be sure both parents agree on how they are going to set dating boundaries.  Are you going to require that you talk with the parents of your teen’s date before the date?  How many dates a week?  When and where can your teen go on a date?  Do you have a strong understanding of your expectations for your teen?  If both parents are on the same page when it comes to the boundaries of dating, it will help you in making decisions about your teen’s dating activities.

Give your teen some ideas for great dates that don’t compromise your convictions.  A museum, local zoo, going for coffee or ice cream, a carnival, a fair, or a Christian concert are great alternatives for a fun dating experience.  Notice these are all public places.

Help your teen learn about good decisions in choosing a person to date.  Coach your teen to look for outward qualities that indicate inner character, like a good reputation at school, a self-controlled mouth, and wise driving habits, to name just a few.  Good decisions include not only in-person dates but also electronic communications.  Yes, talking with your teen about dating includes a conversation and discussions about appropriate texting, Facebook time, Snap-chats, and Instagram’s dialogues.  Be wise about your child’s emotions.  Even if your child is not dating, he or she can still become emotionally attached to a person over the phone or internet.  Teens use electronic devices to share their feelings, their disappointments, their hopes, their troubles at home, and soon they feel attached.

Show trust until you have a reason not to trust anymore.  Your trust will bring you and your teen much closer.  Parents, the most important thing to remember is to try to relax and help your teen enjoy these years.  If your teen expresses no desire to date, don’t be alarmed.  Some teens focus on careers, schoolwork, scholarships, and friendships before beginning their dating journey.  Remember, you have great opportunity to help your teen mature by being involved in their dating life.

 Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.  Proverbs 13:20

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Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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