A new study says the rules you set for your kid reveal loads about your marriage.
Some parents micromanage their kids' love lives, while others tend to go with the flow. But did you know that your parenting style might offer clues into your own relationship? Researchers at Maryland's McDaniel College found that the dating rules you set for your kid actually may reflect how satisfied you are with your own marriage.
Happy Marriage = You Set Limits
Here's the scoop: Parents in stable, romantic marriages often manage their kids' curfew, impose age restrictions for dating, and set limits on where kids can hang out as well as on their sexual behavior. In turn, these parents develop closer, more positive relationships with their kids. Researchers aren't sure why, but these parents may be more conservative in general, and as a result, their kids engage in less risky behavior on dates.
Rocky Marriage = You're More Controlling
Conversely, parents in rocky marriages tend to control how their teen treats their dates. ("Did he pay for dinner?" or "Did you act like a gentleman?") Lead study authors say these parents want to steer their kids down a road that's happier than their own. The downside to this type of guidance is that kids tend to rebel against their parent's advice and end up in unhappier relationships.
Experts say the best way to instill good dating habits in your kid is to forgo setting strict rules and encourage open communication--without butting in too much. So instead of saying, "If you want to go out, tell me exactly where you'll be," try saying something like, "Hey, can you let me know what you're doing tonight and just check in if plans change?" That way, you'll focus on your role as a parent, not matchmaker. And you'll reap the benefits--experts say the parents who don't micromanage have the healthiest relationships with their children overall.
How strict are you when it comes to teens and dating?