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Because I have a teen, I have been asked more than once about how we deal with dating. One of the perks of homeschooling is that my kids haven’t felt pressured to keep up with the latest societal trends as what their friends in school seem to keep up with. Dating is one of those since some of my daughter’s schooled friends have had boyfriends when they were as young as nine. With a 14 year old daughter and a 13 year old son, you can bet that I’ve been observing the way dating works in today’s world and preparing for the day when dating does become a reality in our family.
This post only scratches the surface on the world of teen dating, but these are some great general guidelines that we as parents can follow in the world of having kids who are of dating age.
In some ways, dating may have been easier before the age of technology in which we now live, but there are ways that we can use the technology that is a part of our lives and our kids’ lives to help us as parents deal with our kids and dating.
Gone are the “old days” when parents knew exactly what was going on in their daughter’s life as she sat home waiting for the phone to ring. If their children were interested in dating someone whether a son or daughter, the parents were most likely aware of it fairly early on because their lines of communication were so limited.
I don’t have to tell you that communication is drastically different in the world of today, and that our kids can keep up with their friends or anyone else basically anywhere. If your kids have a phone, or, if their friends have a phone, they are reachable anywhere, which means your kids could be communicating with someone of the opposite sex without you having any idea.
Here are some general guidelines than can help you deal with this whole dating thing like a rockstar!
- If your kids have their own phone, you will want to set up some clear rules about that phone. When it come to dating, you will want to make certain that your kids are staying within the parameters that you have set up in regards to their phone, and in most cases, it will be a good idea for you to do some monitoring of their phone in regards to who they are communicating with.
- Establish clear boundaries about social media. Talking about the dangers of social media is a complete subject on its own, but remain aware of social media trends as they change and establish rules and expectations with your child that are in line with the rules and values in your home and in your family.
- Your biggest ally in being a parent of a child who is of dating age is having lines of communication that have a history of being open. Taking the time to establish open communication, a sense of trust, and a genuine interest in the life of your child from the get go will be so beneficial as you get to these dating years. The time you invest during the elementary years will pay off big time when they are a teen.
- The fact that the tweens and teens of today love hanging out in groups, perhaps more than any previous generation, is also a huge benefit. The kids of today love hanging out in groups, which means that kids who are interested in someone of the opposite sex will most likely be spending time being “chaperoned” by the others in the group. Today, dating is often done in groups long before there is ever a desire for the one-on-one dates. This can be a very good thing. Know where your kids are going and with whom.
- Know your kids’ friends, and establish open lines of communication, a sense of trust, and a genuine interest in them and in their lives just as you do with your own child. They can be your ally in monitoring what is going on in the life of your child through everything they are doing on social media. Enlist the help of your kids’ friends to monitor the communication that occurs between your child and the person they are interested in. Not only does their communication need to be appropriate, but your kids’ friends can also help you assess whether your child is changing who they are because of the person they are interested in. Feeling the need to change who they are to attract a certain person has been occurring since dating began, and it will continue, too.
- Monitoring your kids’ texts and social media sites is a good thing, maybe even a great thing. Not in a snooping around sort of way, but in an out in the open way. Tell your kids that they will be monitored as just a normal part of life and in setting healthy boundaries. In our home, the privilege of technology comes with the responsibility of behaving in appropriate ways with that technology. Check their texts and phone calls at times, too.
- Establish dating rules that have withstood the test of time. Things like potential suitors meeting their potential date’s parents, not allowing kids of the opposite sex to be anywhere near bedrooms (of course siblings are the exception), kids who have any friends over should have a parent present, and parents should check up on where their kids say they are going and how their kids say things will be happening. Confirm that parents are going to be home at the house where your kids are going for a gathering or party, talk to these parents, and confirm who else will be there. Throughout all of time kids have had to check in with their parents, and the kids of today still should as well.
This post is just a general overview of one way of dealing with dating. I also have a post scheduled that is a more personal account of how dating actually will be working in our home. We are choosing to follow more “old fashioned” concepts that are based completely on a Christian standpoint, so if you will find a more strict dating policy post helpful, stay tuned, it is coming in the next few weeks.
Being a parent with dating teens doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and establishing and adhering to these basic rules and guidelines is a great way to get to well on your way to handling it like a rockstar!