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Teen Dating

Assuming your kids won't abide by the "You can date once you turn 40" rule, you'll need to talk about dating during their teenage years. 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. 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.

Top 3 Tips for Talking to Your Teen about Dating

  1. Ask your son a lot of questions about who he's going with, how he feels about this person, and what he thinks might happen on the "date."
  2. Make sure he is prepared to be respectful of the girl and her feelings, and that neither feels pressured to make something "happen" because it's a "date."
  3. It's okay to make rules like "I have to meet her first," or "The first few dates have to be at our house." Teens may balk at rules like this, but on some level they do appreciate you setting the guidelines for them.

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 that the parents who don't micromanage have the healthiest relationships with their children overall.


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What Moms Can Do to Help Teens Cope with a Breakup

Once your teen begins dating, it is likely that he/she will at some point experience the heartbreak involved with a breakup. Psychologist Dr. Lisa Boesky, author of "When to Worry: How to Tell if Your Teen Needs Help -- and What to Do About It," shares the following pointers for how moms can help teens get through a tough split:

Don't minimize the extent of your teen's pain. You know they will fall in love again, but they don't. Their pain is real and should be validated -- whether they were with their boyfriend or girlfriend weeks, months, or years.

Allow your son or daughter to feel what they feel -- sadness, disillusionment, anger. You might secretly think they should be over it in days or weeks, but it could take months. Be patient.

Encourage your teen to stay busy with friends. Many people unintentionally ditch their pals when they're in a relationship. It's time for your teen to make calls, apologize for being MIA, and make plans to hang out.

Distract your teen with family activities. Someone who's in the midst of a breakup needs to know people love and care about them.

Have your teen write down and talk about the negative traits of their ex. After a breakup, many teens idealize their ex and only think of the positive times. But no one's ex is perfect -- help your teen remember that.

Help your teen make plans for the future -- this weekend, next week, next month. It's so easy to get stuck in the past and reminisce about what could have been. Get them looking ahead -- even if it's just in slow baby steps.

Remind them that this is not the time for major life decisions. After a major breakup, many teens want to change schools, move out of state, or ditch college plans. These decisions are often a direct backlash against the one they loved and are not a good idea. Minor life decisions, like Miley Cyrus dyeing her hair black or a teen listening to a new kind of music, are normal, however, and are nothing to be concerned about.

Know when it's time to get help. If your teen begins using drugs or alcohol, withdraws from friends or family, starts to do poorly in school, or their mood has taken a major downturn for two weeks or more, talk to a professional to make sure their typical teen blues aren't turning into major depression or even suicidal behavior.
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Related Momlogic Stories on Teen Dating

  1. Your Marriage Affects Your Kid's Curfew?
  2. Dating 101: Anti-Rape Classes
  3. Did Chris Brown Rough Up Rihanna?

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