Raising teenagers is like being on a never-ending roller coaster. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of teen tantrums, you find out that your teen daughter has a boyfriend. Nothing ever prepares you for your child’s first boyfriend. Sure you know that it’s a possibility but it still catches you by surprise when it finally happens.
So how do you handle the situation and successfully navigate this major milestone in your daughter’s life?
Keep calm and parent on.
Okay, so the news that your daughter has a boyfriend hit you hard and you’re tempted to panic. That’s understandable, but you’re going to have to practice some positive parenting instead. Forbidding your daughter from seeing her boyfriend or voicing your disappointment at every turn will only make her upset and rebellious.
Surprise her and earn her trust by being supportive, listening to her, meeting the young man and most importantly, doing your best not to embarrass her. Your daughter will see there’s no reason to hide anything and she won’t keep her future relationships from you.
Discuss the relationship with your daughter.
She may not act like it but your daughter needs guidance as she enters the dating world. As her mom, you need to initiate conversations about dating and relationships. Keep lines of communication open and don’t shy away from tackling tough topics like abstinence, safe sex, consent, the difference between love and infatuation and how she should safeguard her reputation.
Talking with and listening to your daughter can help you decipher if the relationship is a healthy one or not. Additionally, her first relationship gives you a golden opportunity to guide her towards becoming an assertive and independent young woman.
Meet the boyfriend.
What better way to know what kind of guy your daughter is interested in than meeting him? Instead of spending time worrying that your daughter is dating a tattooed, irresponsible guy who vapes, drinks and is no good for her, invite him over for dinner. That way, you can judge what type of person he is and see for yourself if he’s respectful and treats her well.
Insist that your daughter sticks to her schedule.
First relationships are dazzling and exciting. Your daughter can get so caught up in the giddiness of it all and neglect other aspects of her life. Insist that she still goes out with her usual friends and ensure she stays on top of her extracurricular activities. That way, should things in her relationship go south, she’ll still have something else to turn her attention to.
Set reasonable rules.
Have a chat with your daughter and set down ground rules for dating. Cover things like curfews, letting you know where she’s going, when and with whom as well as anything else you’d like cleared up beforehand. Having this information on hand will not only make you calmer but it’s also a great way of holding her accountable.
Keep things in perspective.
It’s exciting to see your daughter head into this new stage of her life but you need to have a sense of perspective. Hyping up the relationship too much or talking about the future or marriage will only give her unrealistic expectations and potentially scare off her beau. It’s okay to get excited but give your daughter some privacy and room to learn lessons of her own.
Seeing your daughter making steps into the world of dating and relationships can be an overwhelming experience. Handling it with calmness and sensitivity takes most of the stress out of it, leaving you free to relax and appreciate watching her grow up.
About the Author
Cindy Price is proud wife and mom to three teenagers. She would like to say she’s a parenting expert but she knows better than to do that. As a parent educator and writer for over 15 years, she’s well-aware how quickly parenting practices evolve. Family is her greatest joy and she hopes her writing can help make families stronger.