Teen dating can come with a lot of pressure. We asked a psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado how parents can help teens and adolescents during the initial dating years.
What’s most important about teens and dating?
“Teens are unique and handle the pressures of dating differently than adults,” said Jeffrey Dolgan, PhD, Senior Psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “One thing is true for all teens, however: the importance of communication. As you watch your teen’s romance unfold, don’t wait until a jealous moment, a breakup or a precarious situation arises to talk about it.”
How can I start the conversation?
Dr. Dolgan suggests having regular conversations at a time when your teen is approachable – this makes it less awkward and less of a big deal. Movies are another great opportunity for bonding; use the latest hit movie to discuss how pop culture represents sex and love by pointing out the good and the bad.
How do I get my teenager to open up?
Trust is key. If your child views you as a trusted and available advisor, he or she will seek you out for relationship advice. Express empathy when something goes wrong and show that you understand how important the relationship is.
Can this strengthen my relationship with my child?
“Teens live right in the present moment, and you want to meet them there,” said Dr. Dolgan. “It’s natural for parents to worry about the future of your teen’s romantic relationship and also think about the long-term future of your relationship with him or her. But if you can meet your child in the moment, then that bodes well for your future.”
Can I help prevent a broken heart?
As adults, we all remember our first breakup and our first heartbreak. Remind your teen that breakups happen and you know what it feels like. This will make it easier for them to talk to you.
Also be aware that sometimes the emotional aftermath can lead to health concerns. If you see an increase in symptoms of depression or a lack of interest in normal activities, contact your family physician.
Learn more about psychology services at Children’s Colorado.