So, you just found out that your baby boy or girl is in a relationship. Get out of town! O.M.G.(Oh My G-D)! Are you still seeing red? Have you researched your future in-laws’ family from siblings to grandparents? Good news: you are not alone with your feelings.
As a licensed psychologist who specializes in working with teenagers, I know a thing or two about what goes through the mind of both child and parent. Though the terminology of what is “cool” may have [dramatically] changed over the years, the significance of these early relationships has the same basic meaning.
While statistics don’t lie, the following is a brief guide on teen dating based solely upon my experience working with couples, teenagers, and parents. Brace yourself.
- Stay calm. I slowly repeat, stay calm. If this is your child’s first relationship, the novelty of just being in a relationship is what’s mainly on your child’s mind. The texting, the chatting, the Facebook status updates, etc. are all just part of the excitement.
- Stay aligned. Though your “helicopter” blades are most likely spinning fast,
what’s most important is for you to keep an alignment with your child. Believe me when I say this, you knowing more doesn’t make things easier for you or ensure your child’s safety. Perhaps consider making validating and encouraging statements to your child versus asking a million (+1) questions. They will feel noticed by you and perhaps appreciated versus guilty through interrogation.
- Express don’t repress. Once aligned, remember to express your feelings about dating with your child. Encourage them to discuss what the relationship means to them, emotionally. This will foster healthy communication and allow your child to see emotional value within the relationship.
- Meet the other person. Understanding that this can be a very sensitive and awkward experience for you and you child, it is an important one. When (and only when) your child expresses a desire for you to meet their significant other, try to make time for it. When you are able to, remember to be friendly and not overly intimidating or funny. Remember, you are a normal every day person, not Arnold Schwarzenegger or Seth Rogan.
Remind yourself how much you love your child. While this may seem simple, it’s important for your well-being. Spending time worrying about things such as catastrophe can be paralyzing. Spending time thinking about how wonderful your child can be is the most fulfilling experience in the world!
If you have any further questions or comments regarding this piece, please feel free to contact me.