Oh, yes, they’re watching! Teens may not always seem interested in what their parents are doing but when it comes to dating and love, they are watching every move. Here are some tips on how you can model healthy dating and help the next generation steer clear of some tough situations in their own relationships.
1. Money Matters
Dinner and drinks can add up to over a hundred dollars in no time. Finding fun, healthy activities that are free or low cost will show teens that quality time getting to know someone does not have to mean you go broke in the process. Go for a bike ride, take a walk or just sit on the front porch talking. Dating does not have to be expensive; every moment does not have to include a limo and a bottle of champagne.
2. Mental Math
Leading with logic is the best way to keep from making unhealthy choices. By demonstrating that you are keeping your head engaged and not letting your heart run wild, you will influence how your teen views relationships. Make your list of “deal breakers” before you begin dating and keep your children’s needs in mind. Tip: location, location, location. Most teens don’t want to move. Dating someone who is geographically undesirable will typically cause unnecessary stress for everyone.
3. Physical Fitness
Personal touch and closeness is every teen’s love language. When they see (or hear) that adults are keeping healthy physical boundaries, it makes it easier for them to embrace the idea of personal respect when they begin dating. Talk with them about what to expect in terms of affection and always consider their perspective. One rule that should not be overlooked: never have someone from last night’s date sitting at the breakfast table the next morning!
4. Emotional Energy
Dating can be an emotional rollercoaster if not kept in check. Be honest and open about your feelings while keeping the drama in neutral. Encourage your teen to express their feelings about the process and their perceptions and carefully respect their views. Slow and steady is the best example to model healthy dating. If you need to break off a relationship, do not involve your teenager.
5. Spiritually Savvy
While each person has their own set of values, morals, and beliefs, be careful not to compromise in areas you have raised your teen to view as sacred. This can send a mixed message that will probably backfire when they begin to date. Be clear about your beliefs up front with the person you date and don’t settle for something that will undermine the family framework. Even slight variations in this area can cause big problems down the road.
Finding love in this culture is not easy. Dating, with kids that live at home, is a big commitment but with a few simple practices in place, the journey will be far less bumpy. During the teen years, parents have the amazing privilege and the responsibility to show their kids how they will navigate relationships, dating, love, and even marriage. The caution is that teens today live in a world of entitlement and speed – both of which cause accidents. Teaching teens about healthy love is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give them.