Do you remember your first teen relationship? The teenage years are a time of raging hormones and strong emotions. When teens begin dating, they don’t always make the best choices. As a parent, you can help guide your teen through these tough times—and protect your teen from unhealthy relationships.
Is This Your Teen’s First Relationship?
First times are scary in any situation. If this is your teen’s first relationship ever, she’s especially in need of guidance and someone to talk to. She may also be more likely to make unhealthy choices or fail to see the signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Have You Met Your Teen’s Boyfriend or Girlfriend?
Is the relationship out in the open? If your teen is hiding something, this may be the first sign of a problem. Ask your teen to bring his significant other home to watch a movie or have dinner, or just to drop by for a quick hello. If you meet resistance, that’s not unusual—but it might be a sign that your teen feels like there’s something he needs to hide.
Does Your Teen Talk About Dating?
Has your teen asked you for advice or talked about her relationship? What kinds of messages are you hearing? Jump on any chance you have to learn more about your teen’s dating life. Try to remain free of judgment and negativity. The last thing you want is to shut down this avenue of communication. If your teen isn’t talking about dating at all, gently bring it up.
Has Your Teen Pulled Away from Family?
Everyone remembers what it was like to have a first crush. The feelings can borderline on obsession. But some teens may become so wrapped up in a relationship that relationships with friends and family and focus on schoolwork may fall by the wayside. If you begin to see your teen pulling away from you and your normal family routines, start a conversation about his dating life and establishing good boundaries and habits.
Has Your Teen’s Become Moody or Withdrawn?
Mood swings and depression could be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Not all types of abuse are physical. According to LoveIsRespect.org, relationships exist on a spectrum that may edge into dating violence or abusive behaviors. Teach your teen to recognize signs of abuse. If your teen’s boyfriend or girlfriend is acting controlling or abusive, offer yourself as an advocate and support system. Introduce your teen to resources like the National Dating Abuse Helpline.
Is Your Teen Sexually Active?
Sex isn’t a sign of an unhealthy relationship, but it complicates relationships. Talk to your teen about sex and safety. Make sure that your teen knows that she shouldn’t be pressured to develop a sexual relationship, and address the importance of assertiveness.
The LiveFree! Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition is a group of community members who work to address alcohol and drug use in Pinellas County. Visit us online today to see how you can get involved in this cause that is so important to our community.