By Kristen Fritz
Your first love, your first kiss and your first relationship are all memorable things that you can look back and reminisce and giggle about with friends. But how easy is it to talk about with our children? Thanks to changes in technology and popular social media sites, dating today is a whole different ball game.
To make sure your children are following the right path and making good choices, sit down and talk with them and follow the tips below to ensure an easier conversation.
Take it seriously.
“These are their first relationships, and so they fall hard,” said Rosalind Wiseman, an educator and author of Queen Bees and Wannabes. It’s important not to dismiss your child’s relationships just because he or she is a teenager. What your child learns now will set the stage for healthy relationships in the future.
Use the media.
Talking to your child about celebrity relationships like Rihanna and Chris Brown can be great teachable moments, according to Dr. Jeff Gardere, assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Manhattan and creator of the Healthy Divorce app. TV shows, movies and YouTube videos can all be used as a sounding board to talk about what healthy and unhealthy relationship look like – without it turning into another lecture.
Set the rules together.
Although you already know what the rules will be about dating, curfews, parties and driving, it’s important to negotiate them together. So if your teen wants a 10 p.m. curfew, start at 8:30 p.m. and slowly increase the time when your child proves he or she can take on more responsibility.
Teach appropriate social media behavior.
So how can you make sure your kid isn’t sexting his or her latest crush? You can’t, according to Wiseman. So aside from confiscating cell phones, talk with your kid about what your family’s values are when it comes to technology in the hopes that he or she will make the right decision.
Lead by example.
Experts agree that the way you and your spouse treat each other strongly influences your kid’s relationship choices and how they will treat significant others in the future.
Face the truth.
The biggest obstacle parents have when dealing with dating is admitting that their child could be in a messy situation—as a target, victim, bystander or perpetrator, Wiseman said. Acknowledging this reality will allow you to keep the lines of conversation open and prepare your kid to respect and be respected.