Mrs. Wilson was shocked to see her teenaged daughter’s prom night pics. In every picture, she was seen standing close to a person of her age and they were mostly clicked while drinking and smoking. Wilson was expecting her daughter to visit during the holidays and talk to her about her dating life, but when the moment came, she could not bring herself to broach the subject.
Raising a teen could be one of the most intimidating aspects of parenthood. It’s tough to set rules and make the child abide by them. Like Wilson, millions of American parents find it challenging to communicate with their teenagers about their dates and relationships. But, it is indispensable to talk to kids about these to make them understand the meaning of true and respectful relationships. Listed below are a few tips, which can be handy for parents in having candid conversations:
- Defining a healthy relationship: It is important to let children know the importance of a healthy relationship where both the partners accept each other wholeheartedly, respect boundaries, value individual space and contribute to making life better. Both the partners should respect each other’s choices. Even during constructive criticism, none of the partners should get disrespectful and cross lines.
- Educating teens about challenges: When a teen is entering into a new relationship, it is important that he or she be armed with a wealth of knowledge, especially about the risk of violence and physical or sexual abuse. Parents must educate teens about the preventive and remedial measures and assure them they will always be there to support during the tough times.
- Explaining difference between infatuation and love: Parents must use their years of wisdom in making the teens understand the difference between infatuation and true love. If it is an infatuation, one might experience some changes such as goosebumps, butterflies in the stomach, reduced appetite, etc. On the other hand, love takes its own course and nurtures gradually, stabilizing both partners eventually. Parents should also be mindful of using gender-neutral language, for example, they should ask their teens “how is your dating life?” rather than asking, “How is your girlfriend or a boyfriend?” This openness can help kids to feel secure and safe while sharing about their dating lives with parents.
- Discussing about sex realistically: One might be tempted to skip this discussion, however, if discussed, it can be extremely beneficial for the growing teens. Children are already aware about it by this age so delaying the discussion doesn’t help. Parents should educate their children about the importance of safe sex and how to avoid forced sexual activity. Teens should be encouraged to raise their voice if they are sexually uncomfortable in a relationship or are being sexually abused.
- Teaching kids about substance abuse: Teen years are the time when children start experimenting with drugs and drinking in parties. Their partners can cajole them into doing so or they may get addicted on their own as a coping mechanism to deal with everyday stress. Parents must make their children aware about the perils of substance use by explaining that they provide only short-term relief but ruin life forever.
Knowing when to seek support
Sometimes, a parent may encounter a lot of difficulty in engaging the teen in a conversation. Parents can then look for a family therapist to intervene and dissolve the barriers to communication. The widening gap between elders and the young can cause distress to one or both, which can aggravate into a mental health problem. It is advisable for parents to approach a psychiatrist or mental health counselor and discuss the problems openly. This will ensure a better quality life for them and their children.
Mental health should not be ignored as an untreated condition, as it could lead to many more health complications. The Florida Mental Health Helpline can assist you in finding appropriate mental disorder treatment in Florida comprising effective coping mechanisms to manage stress. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-846-5588 or chat online with one of the trained specialists for further assistance in finding state-of-the-art rehab facilities in Florida.