Many parents can attest that their children have had "girlfriends" or "boyfriends" since the second grade. But during the teenage years, dating takes on a whole new meaning [source: Whitaker].
Before your teen begins to date, discuss a few expectations. The guidelines you establish now could have a long-standing impact on behavior that stretches well into adulthood. For example, high school juniors and seniors who have a serious romantic relationship are 50 percent more likely to get married or live with their partner before age 25. Depending on their beliefs and their child's maturity, some parents prefer for their teens not to have such serious relationships at a young age. Many experts recommend encouraging your teenager to date Mr. or Ms. "Right Now" -- as opposed to a more serious relationship -- in hopes that she will continue to develop friendships and lighthearted dating relationships for a longer period of time before "settling down" [source: Harris].
In addition to talking openly about sexual pressures and limits, talk about the boy/girl roles that sometimes play out in teenage relationships. Physical, emotional and verbal abuse by dating partners is a very real concern. Help your teen understand the warning signs.
A power imbalance also can come into play as your teen makes plans for the future. Talk with your teen about college and what he may choose for a career. It doesn't matter if you don't come up with any solid answers, as long as your teen understands that his decision should be made independently.