As a parent, it may be difficult to watch your child enter into a romantic relationship. It’s definitely a signal they are maturing and becoming more sexually aware. It’s ok, and completely normal, if this feels a little weird to you. After all, this is your baby!!
On the other hand, it can be kind of fun to see your child interacting with the opposite sex. You and your husband will probably have a few chuckles over their “awkward” moments, first dates, first arguments, etc.
It would be naive to think these relationships are always going to go smoothly – that’s just part of life. There will be hurt feelings and broken hearts, and it will be your job to offer an empathetic shoulder to cry or lean on.
As romantic relationships evolve the topic of sex may enter the picture. Each family has their own values and opinions on this one, and that’s something you need to communicate with your teen. Your goal here is to have your child come to you for advice. Otherwise, they may get incorrect information from the internet or friends.
Don’t freak out
I reached out to my friend and parenting expert Julie Freedman-Smith for some advice on this topic. She co-created an excellent video series called the 5R’s of Parenting Power.
If, and hopefully when, your teen comes to you for advice, don’t freak out! “It’s ok to say something like, “ ‘Oh my gosh this is a little overwhelming, but I’m so glad you trust me enough to have this conversation,’ ” says Freedman-Smith.
Ask questions and keep open communication
The worst thing you can do is shy away from this discussion. Burying your head in the sand and not acknowledging their feelings, questions or concerns certainly sends the wrong message. And, your body language is important too. Inside you may be cringing, but don’t let them see that.
Ask questions…don’t make it an inquisition of course, but a casual “check in” every so often is a good idea.
- What do you think is reasonable on a first date?
- Are you thinking about having sex?
- Where are you going to draw the line?
- Are you having safe sex?
- Are you using birth control?
“If we don’t have the courage to talk about it, then why do we expect our kids to have the courage to talk about it?”
Discussing these things ahead of time is really important so your teen knows where they stand and has the words ready before they find themselves in a situation that’s gone too far or is uncomfortable.
Parents can always reach out for help
“If you can’t have those conversations with your kids, but you want them to have an adult to talk to, maybe there is someone that can. Maybe a sister, aunt or uncle or good friend who has similar values to you and who your child trusts,” says Freedman-Smith.
While living in the U.S., I had the chance to work with an excellent program called Girlology and Guyology. This is a sexual health group designed to facilitate these types of discussions between parents and teens. They do it in such a fun and positive way, I encourage you to check out their website.
If communicating face-to-face isn’t possible, or your teen is the silent type, you could always try text or e-mail. For some families, this actually works better.
“Find the venue or the strategy that’s going to work the best,” says Freedman-Smith.
If you want to delve deeper into this and many other parenting topics, please check out the 5Rs of Parenting Power video course. You can take advantage of special Party of Five pricing right now!
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