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Mom Worried About Teenager Dating

by Jody

Concern as my teenager starts dating about not compromising themselves or changing, or allowing disrespect in order to keep someone.

Editors note:
You haven't given me much background, so I can only give you a general answer. Feel free to add to your question via the comments, as this topic will be of great interest to other parents of teenagers.

Comments for Mom Worried About Teenager Dating

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Trusting Your Teenager - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Jody,
Because I don't have much information from you, I am going to make some assumptions and answer from there, as there will still be useful tips for other parents, and hopefully you too. If you don't feel I have covered your concerns, then please comment back.

It sounds like your teenager has reached a milestone - when they start dating they are moving into the beginnings of adulthood, though in many ways they can still be very childlike.

This is such an important time for teenagers, parents often underestimate how important, and put way too much emphasis on schooling and study. Of course we want them to do well in school, but learning about relationships is the foundation to almost anything they are involved in. Whether work relationships, friendships, boyfriends/girlfriends, and eventually a committed long term relationship, play a HUGE role in how successful we are in anything we do.

Teenagers are learning about how to get along, make compromises, keep your integrity, solve conflict, negotiate, have a balanced life, and then of course sexuality. All these relationship skills can't be learned alone, they can only be learned when actually in relationships with people who have meaning to us.

It is very hard as a parent to step back and watch our kids experiment in relationships, particularly if we are concerned they may not be doing so well in our minds. And of course parents are often concerned that their child will become sexually active, or may worry their child will not adhere to your beliefs about sex before marriage.

You have not specified exactly what your concerns are, but my impression is you are worried your teenager is dating someone who is not respecting her/him or pressuring her/him to compromise the values you have raised her with.

[I am going to assume you have a daughter, simply because writing her/him is too hard, and reads really badly! But if it is your son you are concerned about, simply substitute him.]

Part Two Follows . . . .

Trusting Your Teenager - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Firstly, hard though it is, you do have to let your teen make her own mistakes and remember they may only be mistakes in your eyes. By the time your child is old enough to date, then you have done most of what you can to shape their beliefs and instill your family values. Now comes the time when you have to trust that your teenager can make up her own mind about what feels right. Even if they regret it later!

Your role now, is to keep the communication open between you. If you start interfering and trying to protect her or telling her how to be in the relationship, then you will most likely push her away and create tension between you. If she knows you are disapproving then she is not going to trust you will listen or be there for her.

Teenagers have to be able to test things out and you can only encourage them to stay in touch with what feels right. Sometimes they have to find out what is WRONG before they know their own boundaries and truth.

If your teenager feels you are not trying to change or control her behavior, then she is more likely to feel she can come and talk to you if she also is concerned that she is being pressured to change or to do something she is not ready to do. THEN you can offer advice as to how she can be strong and resist the pressure.

It sounds a bit like your daughter is trying to please her boyfriend to keep him and is not respecting herself, which in turn opens her up to being disrespected by him. That is a really tricky issue to deal with, it sounds like your daughter's self esteem is not as strong as you would like, and her need to be loved or accepted is over-riding her belief in herself.

Hard though it may sound, this is something she is going to have to learn, you can't do it for her. You can encourage and praise and build her self esteem by your acceptance and trust in her, by showing her how much you value her, by celebrating her achievements.

But if her core self belief is a bit shaky, she is the one who has to learn that, and learn to love and respect herself and allow her strength to grow. Sometimes we learn those things through experiences that are tough - and getting through them builds our strength.

By the time a child has got to teenage years, parents are no longer seen as the font of all knowledge, nor are your ideas and opinions as valued as much as their peers! It is very hard for parents to step back and trust that you have done the best you can, and now you have to let them move out into the world on their own feet most of the time.

Part Three Follows . . .

Trusting Your Teenager - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

I'm not saying you don't have a right to your concern, or values, but trusting her and supporting and encouraging her, will keep the communication flowing, rather than pushing your concerns onto her. I would bet she is aware of your concerns in any case.

I know you love her, and you have her best interests at heart, and you want to protect her from hurts, but your worry actually gets in the way. It creates a negative belief about her ability to thrive in a relationship, it is saying you don't think she has the skills to be herself or be strong, and it is saying you don't trust her to learn for herself and make good decisions. Maybe some of that is true, but it doesn't help!

She will thrive more when your energy is trusting that she has learned valuable relationship skills from you, that she has your values as part of her. That it is OK to make mistakes so we can learn and grow, that you love her no matter what, even if she makes choices you don't like. She will be able to come to you if she needs help and support or advice if she feels that unconditional love and belief in her.

So your job is to keep yourself from worrying about her, when you find yourself going over and over the concern and fears about her, then find activities that help you to feel good, both about her and about you.

Remember the times you shared together and had fun, get together with people who support you in being a great Mom, and who know what a great job you have done - rather than people who are going to make it worse or bigger. Getting together with other parents to complain and moan about our teenagers, isn't productive. Be with people who know what a great teen your daughter is, who recognize her skills and achievements.

Do things that nourish you - if you are feeling relaxed and "filled up" then you are much more able to be available for her if she needs you, or just wants to hang out with you for a while. If you are stressed and anxious about her then that creates a lot more negative energy around it all. Find the things that feed your soul, that help you to be in touch with your spirit and to trust in your own inner wisdom.

You can also practice holding a vision of her as strong and self assured, as a young woman able to speak her truth and who values integrity. See her as happy and full of life, enjoying her friends and thriving.

Most of all, make time to have fun with her, having positive experiences and fun together keeps that bond - have a girls days out, go to a movie, or a walk on the beach. Take on a project or volunteer for something that you both are interested in. Build on your relationship, and keep the positive communication flowing, and trust all is going splendidly.

Wishing you JOY,
Annie D :)

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Do you have a question or want to send a submission to Annie? Simply click here to return to Parenting Questions About Teenagers.

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