As your kids grow into teenagers, they are likely to find themselves interested in dating and pursuing romantic relationships. While it may feel difficult or embarrassing to discuss dating and relationships with your child who just seemed to be learning to walk, it is extremely vital to pursue open discussions as your teen begins taking interest in adult-oriented topics and pursuits.
Defining a Healthy Relationship
One of the most important topics to cover once you begin to discuss dating with your child or teen is the definition of a healthy relationship. Your child should understand the importance of boundaries, respect, and healthy ways to show love when pursuing a romantic partnership.
Understanding Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
While it is essential to have the ability to define a healthy relationship, it is also imperative to know what to look for in an unhealthy or toxic relationship. Discuss what a toxic relationship means to your child or teen, especially if they are already in a relationship with a partner. Some of the most common red flags and toxic behaviors that may arise in an unhealthy relationship can include:
- Controlling and Possessive Behavior: Not allowing private conversations or relationships while keeping track of a partner’s schedule and routine is a red flag to watch for when entering a new relationship.
- Isolating Behavior: When a partner keeps an individual from making plans, visiting family members, or seeing friends, this is a major red flag
- Verbal and Physical Abuse: Verbal abuse is often the first sign of an abusive relationship. Even is physical abuse is not yet present, verbal abuse often escalates over time.
Having “The Talk”
As your teen enters a serious romantic relationship, they may begin to think of pursuing a sexual relationship as well. While having “the talk” is not always easy, it is necessary to ensure your child is readily prepared to take on the emotional and mental responsibilities of entering a sexual relationship with their partner. Discussing intimacy, boundaries, and limitations is a way to provide your teen with guidelines to abide by when entering a sexual relationship. When your teen feels as if they can come to you to discuss their experiences, they are less likely to keep secrets as they continue to evolve and explore new facets of life.
Discussing Sexual Health and STDs
Once you have an open and honest relationship with your child who is interested in dating and you have had “the talk” with one another, discuss sexual health and STDs together. Discuss the prevalence of STDs and how to go about obtaining protection before engaging in sexual activity. Discuss methods to test for STDs with your child or teen as he or she becomes interested in dating and pursuing romantic relationships.
Having the ability to talk openly with your child and teen about relationships and dating can significantly improve your own relationship with one another as your child experiences growing pains and new life lessons. With the right preparation and a judgment-free relationship, steer your child or teen in the right direction as they begin seeking relationships outside of friends and family circles.
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