At some point in this adventure called parenthood, you’ll notice a change in your teen. They start to be spend more time with one particular friend and the whole thing seems to be getting a little romantic, in your eyes anyway. You, of course, want to allow them to be independent and figure things out along the way, but when it comes to teen relationships, you also want to lay a foundation and provide an explanation of the proverbial L word.
Your teen will probably experience their first love sooner than you think and it’s your job to support your kid by sharing your knowledge of love and relationships. So, put on your big girl panties and prepare to have an open and honest conversation. Above all, you want your child to feel comfortable talking to you about these things forever, so start early and do your best to be cool about it. With that in mind, here’s our teen relationship advice you should impart to your kid.
1. Examine Other Relationships
Identify traits in relationships between people he or she knows personally or a celebrity couple who’s been public about their dynamics. For example, if your brother and sister-in-law are the very best of friends, you could say, “I admire how Uncle Joe and Aunt Selena are best friends. I think that probably helps them stay happy together,” and see where the conversation leads you.
2. Plan Ahead
Play the “what do you want to be doing in 10 years” game. Use your child’s answer as a foundation to create a conversation about the people he or she sees going along for the ride. Talk about the type of person he or she will want by his or her side to support those dreams.
When appropriate, share a personal story about your first love. Let your child know you’ve been there too and might understand a bit better than they would like to think.
4. Set an Example
Model a healthy relationship with your own spouse or partner. Having a solid romantic relationship gives you credibility to facilitate a conversation with your kid.
5. Do Your Research
We know it sounds silly but you have to know the love language that is used today. If you don’t know the difference between when someone is “just talking” versus “hooking up,” it’s bound to be an embarrassing conversation for both you and your child.
6. Be Age-Appropriate
Make sure your teen understands his or her body and feelings. If you haven’t had the sex talk yet, it’s time to add that to the list, but make sure the information you’re sharing is age-appropriate and you’re observing your child closely to gauge how much is too much to share at this time.
7. See a Movie
Watch a movie with a first love theme. After it’s over, discuss the plot and the characters’ challenges with your child. This can be a great way to start a conversation about their love life.
8. Set Boundaries
Create rules about how much time can be spent together and when…and where. Anyone else remember what happened when we spent too much time just ‘hanging out’ in our boyfriend’s car? Not gonna happen with our kid! Okay, so it probably will eventually but we’re doing everything we can to help them make the best choices.
9. Help Them Stay Balanced
Remind your child that, even when in love, it’s important not to neglect friends or other activities. In teen relationships, they tend to get really sucked into that first love and can leave other interests behind.
10. Keep Siblings Out of It
Unless you child personally invites a sibling to participate in the conversation, some of the best teen relationship advice we can give you is to keep your kid’s siblings out of these private conversations.
10. Keep Your Emotions in Check
Don’t brush her off when your teenage daughter confides in you that the boy she thinks she loves is someone she’s never actually spoken to. And don’t get mad when your graduating son confesses to going further than he wanted to with a girl he thought he loved. Stay balanced and be there as your child’s safe space for these conversations.
12. Welcome Them In
Show your child and their first love some warmth, safety and acceptance by inviting him or her over for a family dinner or game night. Get to know him or her and let your child see their love interest outside of school.
13. Don’t Pressure for Details
Be there and ready to talk at a moment’s notice but don’t push your kid to spill secrets. It may cause them to not want to talk to you at all if they feel as though you’re prying.
14. Remember You Are The Parent
You are not your child’s friend. It is your job to keep them safe and, from time to time, that means spoiling everything and ‘ruining their lives’.
15. Don’t Forget to Listen
Sometimes you get the most positive results and your child feels the most supported when you allow your them to talk while you do nothing but listen.