Should you let your teen date?

Teen dating is like a test run for more mature relationships -- just another step in development on the way to adulthood. Younger teens date for fun and the relationships are usually short-term and more superficial. For older teens, relationships may become more intimate and more demanding. Dating can increase teens' self-esteem and confidence, as they learn the skills of good relationships and how to compromise while being assertive.

However, just like the other confusions of adolescence, without the proper guidance dating can become a negative and harmful experience. Parents are role models for their children and they need to have an open, supportive and communicative relationship with their teens. Let your teens know that they can talk to you about their relationships, ask any questions and discuss any problems without feeling criticized or rebuked. As teens start to go out on dates they may be subject to peer pressure. It is the role of parents to make sure their teens understand how to act and react. Make sure your teen understands the risks, and the potential emotional and physical harm that inappropriate relationships can cause.

Parents have to openly voice their opinion and impose rules and limitations on teen dating. Make logical rules that you can explain and reason to your teen, as you teach the important elements of sound judgment and self-protection. Stress the importance of self-worth, as teens who value themselves and define their expectations will be more likely to demand respect and to respect others. Teens have to learn the meaning of the word "no." For girls, this means being clear about what she does not want under any circumstances. For boys, this means understanding that if they ignore a clear message of no, they may be guilty of rape. Parents need to be sure their teens understand that they should always make themselves clear and never do anything under pressure.




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