During their children’s teenage years, parents have less input into dating and sexual behaviour than any other area.
Unknowingly, they set up roadblocks so that their teenagers find these two important areas the most difficult to discuss with their parents.
Dating and sexual behaviour are two subjects of great importance among young adults, but only a few parents are aware of their adolescent’s behaviour or standards.
And for good reason! Parents are well equipped with great intentions but faulty methods! By declining to talk about the topic, they hope to discourage early dating.
Later, when they can no longer ignore the subject, they become dictatorial and domineering regarding curfews and activities that may or may not be engaged in.
They also frequently make embarrassing comments about their teenager’s love relationships, forcing them to hide as much as possible in order to spare themselves from ridicule.
There is a better way. Even during the early teen years, dating standards should be a frequent topic at family discussions. Youngsters should feel free to make a statement and ask any question, as shocking or adverse as it might be. Parents should avoid responding with lectures, put-downs, or any form of retribution.
Remember also that during these sessions, your child is learning and growing. Your perspectives may differ. She may overstate her views in an effort to meet your objections or break away from your values. An overreaction from you may ensure she attempts the very things you more or less forced her into defending. It may also make her steer clear of the subject.
However, under patient and consistent guidance and open acceptance, her values will gradually emerge.
After having paved the way through such discussion, you may wish to come to a dating agreement. In a dating agreement, issues such as dating age, number of dates permitted per week, curfews, purpose of dating, blind dates, and so on, are negotiated before the teenager enters the dating game. You will have to solicit as many suggestions as possible from your teenager as you draw up the agreement. Discussion and negotiation then have a solid footing.
Even more difficult to discuss but just as necessary is the topic of sexual behaviour. Parents often close the door to the discussion by being arbitrary. Overreaction only forces the teenager to defend her or her beliefs or to ‘go underground.’
Many parents will be shocked at how free young people are today when it comes to expressing physical affection. Be ready for some startling revelations and be prepared to give information in a non-judgmental manner.
‘Letting go’ is probably the most difficult parental duty during the teen years. Parents find it overwhelmingly difficult to think of their teenager functioning independently in today’s world. They’re aware of the dangers ahead such as premarital sex. They, therefore, become overzealous and try to force their teenager to make ‘right’ decisions.
We have only 18 to 20 years with a child to instill proper values. Then comes the time when we must maintain a hands-off policy regardless of how difficult it might be to watch them make mistakes that will affect their future.
Your child’s chances for making right decisions are better when she doesn’t have to fight you in order to maintain her adulthood and in independence.
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