It’s different for every child but in general, in or around the time they start puberty, many of them start thinking about having romantic relationships.
This can be a tricky time for parents who may have trouble letting go of ‘their baby’ or of seeing their teen with someone they may not deem suitable for them.
However, resistance on a parent’s part can often lead to rebellion on a teen’s part. Unless you have a very solid reason for distrusting your child’s boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s best to try to be supportive.
There’s a high probability that it won’t last too long but on the off chance that it does, you want your child to know that they can come to you whenever they need you.
Here are 6 ways to be supportive of your teenager’s first relationship:
Talk to them about it
Ask your teen questions about the new romance like, ‘when did it start?’, ‘where did you meet?’, ‘what do you like about them?’ They might be a little shy or embarrassed to begin with but if you show a genuine interest, chances are they’ll tell you about them.
Invite their new boyfriend/girlfriend to dinner
If you’re nervous about who your teenager is dating, invite them over for lunch or dinner. Or, if the weather is nice, a barbecue is the perfect event to break the ice. You get to meet them, see how they interact with your child and maybe even get a few minutes to chat to them one-on-one!
Make them feel welcome in your home
It’s natural to be apprehensive about your teen’s new relationship but one way to ‘keep an eye’ on them – without being overly involved – is to make them feel comfortable hanging out at your home. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have rules in place and if you want to implement an ‘open door’ policy, that’s your right as the parent!
Have the ‘consent’ talk
Your teenager might resist when you tell them you want to talk about consent or insist that they already know about it but it’s vital that you make sure that they do.
It doesn’t have to be a long talk and if you’re unsure where to start, there are books and Youtube videos that can help get your point across in a very simple way. (Tea and Consent clip)
Be practical but not pushy
It might be a nuisance for you but being a ‘taxi’ for your teenager will give you a good sense of who they are meeting and where they’re going. You can even use it as one of your conditions for them spending time together – that it’s okay as long as you they will get home safe and sound. It’s better to have one or two rules than absolutely forbid something and have your child ‘sneak around’ without your knowledge.
Teach them the importance of balance
Your teenager needs to know that just because they have a new relationship in their lives doesn’t mean that they should neglect all the other ones they’ve had up to now.
Encourage them to keep their own interests and hobbies and to do things independently of their boyfriend/girlfriend. They should also continue to spend time with their siblings and friends so that they have a support system if and/or when they need it.