It may seem like your little one was just learning their first words and taking their first steps yesterday, but in reality – they have grown into thriving, free-minded teenagers who are ready to explore the world. And with that, come a lot of challenges and emotions that begin when children start to have interests in dating. Especially in today’s world, dating and using online technology seem to go hand-in-hand, so there are added stressors and challenges for parents to look out for.
When your child is handed a phone, tablet or anything that has access to the Internet, you are unlocking a whole new world to them that may need to be monitored at times. And when it’s your first child, you may find it helpful to look up resources and articles that educate you on the subject.
While there’s plenty of online chat forums or social media groups where you can seek advice, it’s also good to read articles from reputable sources that might offer helpful advice. Let’s start with some good teen dating safety tips.
Teen Dating Safety
It could be a scary time for any parent when their first, second, or even third child decides they want to start dating and getting into relationships. Young love can be full of ups and downs as your teenager begins to explore the realm of dating. It’s important to remember to be non-judgmental and open to listening and talking with your children about dating – and more importantly – dating safely.
Per The Dibble Institute, there are a few different ways you can do to ensure your child is dating in a safe manner:
- Dating in a group setting is a safe way to date and get to know one another while also being around others in case something goes wrong; also making sure the group date or individual date is in a public place
- Make sure you know who your child is going out with and where they are going, even if this involves an awkward encounter of having to sit down in the living room with your child’s friend to get to know them a little
- Teach your child to be assertive in a relationship; meaning, teach them to know what they want, have clear expectations and communicate those expectations, expect respect and don’t change yourself for a relationship
- Try to teach your child to date someone with similar interests and values
- To evaluate whether or not the relationship has become unhealthy, try asking your child these questions: Is it conditional or unconditional? Is it controlling? Is it respectful or disrespectful? Is it trusting, equal and supportive? Is it mostly physical or is there attraction on many levels?
- You may have to have the talk with your child that if the relationship is unhealthy, it’s time to break up
- Teach your child about breakups and the best way to do it; teach them that break ups should be done privately and in a safe place with honesty and without cruelty (unless it’s an abusive relationship)
- If the relationship has become abusive, the break up should be done via the telephone and not in person as the safety of your child could be in danger
- And, in the case where physical violence occurs, talk to your child about reporting it to the police immediately
As with any teen-dating situation, it’s always good to set and enforce curfews, establish ground rules, know where your child is going and then follow up after the date. Although you don’t have to have a follow-up conversation the minute your child comes home from the date, you should try to take some time later the next day or two to follow up and ask how it went. Be sure to wait for their response, listen carefully and try not to interrupt. If they are reluctant to share information – which is a common teenage response – don’t worry. You can always let them know that you are there for them and support them no matter what.
It’s also a good idea to know the world of dating apps and know what’s out there. Especially in today’s world, if your teen decides to use dating apps, be sure to establish strict guidelines with the purpose of keeping them safe. And, if you need a few safe – yet fun – dating ideas for your teen. We have a few of those as well!
Fun & Safe Teen Dating Ideas
When your teen starts to date, one of the things you can try to do is recommend safe, fun dates so that you can know where your child is going and what they will be doing. Even though there’s a good chance they won’t listen to what you have to say, there’s no hurt in trying.
Here are a few ideas for fun, safe teenage dates:
- Rock Climbing at a Recreation Center: Take advantage of a local rock climbing gym, which offers a fun physical activity for everyone involved.
- Hit Up the Mall: Although it seems like less and less people are interested in going to malls, they still exist! And can be a nice first date for a teenager.
- Arcade Games: Arcade games are fun and a cool way to show off your impressive gaming skills.
- Visit a Botanical Garden: Take a trip to your local botanical gardens while enjoying the fresh air and beautiful plants and flowers.
- Picnic: Pack your favorite snacks and sandwiches and head for the park; picnics are a fun, cute way to have a date while also keeping it casual.
- Host a Group Game Night: Group dates are always fun and a great way to keep teens safe and away from trouble, while keeping parental supervision in the picture.
- Bake Cookies Together: After having dinner, instead of having dessert right away, hold out for dessert at home; have your teens come back home and bake cookies together.
- Themed Group Dinner and Activity Night: Whether it’s Harry Potter, Marvel or any other famous movies, have your teens dress up in a theme and plan games and activities that go along with that theme.
- Go to a High School Sports Game: High school sports games can be fun and a great way to support and encourage local school spirit.
- Ice Skating: Ice-skating is a great way to have a fun, yet romantic date; whether you live in an area with an outdoors skating rink or if there’s one indoors, it’s a great way to get some exercise while having fun.
- Bowling: Going bowling is one of the most classic date night activities; bowling is a fun, safe way to go on a group date with someone.
Although it might seem like a scary time when your teenager begins to date, you have to realize that it’s a natural part of life and one that you have to accept. In order for your child to grow independently and experience life, dating is one of those stepping-stones along the way. So, don’t be afraid to talk to your teenager about dating and make it a fun, safe environment to do so. You want them to be able to come to you to be able to talk to you when they need it. So next time your teenager expresses interest in dating, remember to be thorough, but also be encouraging and supportive.