One of the many firsts that growing kids often experience during their teen years is first love. From seeing friends go out on dates to watching fictional characters engage in romantic exploits, it can seem to a teen like everyone is in love, making teens eager to find love themselves. With this eagerness to find and keep love comes the risk that your teen will enter into–and not promptly exit–an unhealthy relationship. As your teen takes her first tentative steps into the world of love, provide guidance to help her avoid potential teen relationship pitfalls.
Too Serious, Too Fast
Many teens, anxious to experience love, rush into relationships. This rapid pace can present a problem as hurried teens are often less likely to carefully select a romantic partner and more likely to simply settle for a relationship because the other party is willing. While you may not be able to rein your love-hungry teen in effectively, you can advise her to take her time and encourage her to be choosy when selecting a boyfriend.
Bumpy Road Ahead
Signs of relationship distress often start cropping up shortly after a teen relationship begins. Keep an eye on your lovestruck teen and watch out for telltale signs of a potentially dangerous relationship. The Kids Health website recommends that parents remain vigilant and watch out for some common signs of concern. If your teen’s romantic partner gets mad when she fails to call or doesn’t promptly return messages, it is likely a sign that he is becoming controlling. Similarly, some male teens push their girlfriends to quit other activities to spend more time with them, which isolates the girls from their friends.
Many teens who are in abusive relationships fail to end the relationship promptly, because they are unsure as to whether what their partner is doing constitutes abuse. The Teen Relationships website warns that there are numerous kinds of abuse. These abuse types include emotional abuse, such as name calling; physical abuse, which consists of any type of violence toward the partner; sexual abuse, which includes any forced or coerced sexual contact; financial abuse, where one partner attempts to use money to control the other; and social abuse, which includes the spreading of rumors or the close monitoring of the partner’s social contacts. Apprise your teen of each of these abuse types so that she can more readily recognize and respond to abusive situations.
Help your teen find a healthy relationship by sharing the characteristics of a healthy relationship with her. Tell your teen that, in a healthy relationship, each partner retains a separate identity, as reported by the Kids Health website. Remind her that a partner who is worth her time will be respectful, kind and trusting. Continually remind your teen that she is special and that she should not settle for anything less than the best in a relationship.
Keep Young Daters Safe
When your teen ventures out on dates, you can take steps to keep her safe from potential relationship problems. The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence recommends that teens entering into new relationships initially start by double dating. For the teens’ safety, they should also present a plan for the evening before they leave. When you ask your teens about their relationships, remind them that you are not trying to pry into their love lives, but instead attempting to keep them safe in a potentially dangerous world.
- teen smile image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com