A lot of factors come into play when you're trying to set dating guidelines for a teenager. Of course, you're going to consider age, maturity and trustworthiness, but you should also take an honest look at yourself -- are you an overprotective parent or a more mellow type? Are you really OK with this situation or are you actually feeling pretty nervous about it?
Here are some issues to think about when teen love is in the air:
- Do you trust them to go out together alone?
- Can they go out on school nights or just on weekends? What's the curfew?
- What are the limits on Internet, texting and phone time?
- How are you going to keep tabs on them? Will you "spy" or be more laid-back about it?
- Will you meet the sweetheart's parents? How much will you communicate with them?
You'll also need to consider how you'll enforce these guidelines -- and how you'd handle it if things get out of hand. What do you do if your kid starts ignoring friends and schoolwork, spends too much money or if the relationship seems to be getting too serious?
Once you've set some boundaries, you should be more likely to sit back, relax and let things happen (at least we hope so). Be firm, but remember to have a sense of humor about it and be supportive of your child -- chances are, this relationship (and quite a few after it) isn't going to last forever.
For more information about parenting teenagers, check out the links below.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Talking With Your Teen." March 5, 2010. (Jan. 31, 2012) http://www.cdc.gov/chooserespect/at_home/talking_with_your_teen.html
- DrPhil.com. "Prevent Teen Love Obsessions." (Jan. 31, 2012) http://drphil.com/articles/article/661
- Peters, Ruth. "Young Love: Parents Dealing with Teen Romance." July 4, 2006. (Jan. 31, 2011) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/13689291/ns/today-parenting_and_family/t/young-love-parents-dealing-teen-romance/#.TygAmfm-c7V
- Planned Parenthood. "How to Talk with Your Children about Sex -- At a Glance." (Jan. 31, 2012) http://www.plannedparenthood.org/parents/how-talk-your-child-about-sex-4422.htm
- Planned Parenthood. "Keeping Teens Healthy by Setting Boundaries." (Jan. 31. 2012) http://www.plannedparenthood.org/parents/keeping-teens-healthy-setting-boundaries-38006.htm
- WebMD. "Talking with Your Teen about Sex." May 28, 2010. (Jan. 31, 2012) http://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/talking-with-your-teenager-about-sex-topic-overview