Teenage love is natural. As parents, it’s important that your protective instinct doesn’t interfere with the way you deal with your teenager and their strong, heightened emotions around their newfound love relationships.
I often hear of parents handling ‘young love’ in ways that don’t really help the situation but worsen it. It’s about us recognising that our children are growing up and we need to adapt and learn how to work with them. Just think back and remember how you felt with your ‘first love’ and remember teen love is natural and a part of growing up.
Here are some suggestions on how to handle such sensitive situations.
Say NO to ‘parents vs teenagers’ and Say YES to ‘parents + teenagers = family’
The relationship that a parent and teenager share often turns into a battle of ‘parent vs teenager’ and that’s where the problem lies.
Think: Building Bridges – Not Walls between you.
Teen tips for parents to deal with teenage love and relationships.
Avoid severe punishments as they only make your child even less connected with you and more dependent on the romantic relationship for comfort & support.
Encourage your teenager to move in a group of more mixed friendship groups of boys and girls.
Talk to your teen about infatuation, romance, sexual attraction, and respecting themselves and boundaries.
Get to know your child’s friends, invite them to your home often, and spend time getting to know them.
Define clear boundaries of behaviour for your child. Make your expectations clear and emphasise your family values. But remember it’s HOW you do it – don’t lecture – ‘talk and teach’ them – and when they test your boundaries – push back with confidence but also kindness and respect.
Set clear rules about outings with friends – who they are going out with, where to, and most importantly what time you expect them to come home. Allow your teen to negotiate fairly with you, but clearly state the non-negotiable rules.
Be firm in enforcing the consequences of breaking rules. It might be tough to do, but absolutely necessary to keep your teen within safe limits.
Talk with, not at, your teenager when you find them getting close to a particular friend and ask about what draws them to each other. Encourage them to continue the friendship within a larger group of friends.
Encourage your teenager to pursue and continue an interest, hobby or passion, instead of trying to break the love friendship. They can develop and nurture their self-esteem and confidence and therefore be less dependent on a romantic relationship. If your teenager falls in love or develops a crush the last thing they need from you is nagging or you telling them to stop – that just won’t work!
Romance makes us all feel special and of course even boosts your teen’s self-esteem. So understand that and guide, not sledgehammer them through this new phase in their lives.
It’s really important to maintain a trusting and warm relationship with your teenager, as communication really is the oil that lubricates a happy family. In fact, a strong parent-child relationship meets your teenager’s need for unconditional acceptance, attention, recognition, and appreciation. If these needs are not met at home, kids will easily respond to anyone else who may make them feel wanted and important.
Avoid judging and condemning and let your child know that they can talk to you freely about their relationships. It gives them the confidence to confide in you.
Teach your child about self-respect and how to be respected; and why it’s important to pull away from a disrespectful, toxic friendship or relationship.
Expect a few mistakes when you are all learning about this stage in your teenager’s development. Also be forgiving. – your teen is learning! Help them to ‘fail forward’ learning what they could do differently, or not do in similar situations next time.
Being open-minded and flexible and remembering that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason – listen more than you talk and try and remain objective in discussions.
It’s a period of transition – one step in childhood one step as an emerging adult!
So, how do you cope with heartbreak ….. well that’s a blog for another day!
Many thanks to ParentCircle