It is a milestone moment on a teenager’s path to adulthood – and an often terrifying one for their parents.
When your child falls in love, it can be hard not to panic about what they are getting up to and how it will affect their daily existence. Often your natural instinct is to start laying down the law to prevent them from rushing into something you may feel they’re not ready for.
It can be a very emotional time for them, and how you handle it can be a defining moment in your relationship.
Recalling how you felt when you fell in love as a teen can help you relate to your child. Remember what it was like when your emotions were all over the place, thanks to surging hormones? Remember the silly things you did when you were besotted? Respect your teen’s feelings – they’re very real – and understand that thinking or acting irrationally is part of being in love.
Let’s talk about sex
Now is the time to go back over a subject you may not have discussed since you first had “the talk”. Try not to get too personal, but be open and honest when it comes to providing practical details. Remember to discuss the emotional impact of having sex, as well as the physical side.
When your teenager has a boyfriend/girlfriend, it can call for a whole new set of rules. How often are they allowed to see the other person? Do they have to complete homework before they can speak with them? Do bedroom doors have to be kept open?
Even if you and your teen have previously been close, they may not be comfortable talking about their feelings. A degree of secretiveness is normal. Show an interest in the person they feel so strongly about, but try not to grill them about their romance, unless you have serious concerns.
Let them know they can
always talk to you about what’s happening. If they do, give them your full attention and
try to see things from their point of view, even if you don’t always approve of their behaviour. Explain any feelings you
have about the situation.
banish the green-eyed monster
Your teen’s new boyfriend or girlfriend is likely to become the most important person in their life, at least for the time being, and many parents find that hard to handle. Accept that it is part of growing up – and you will always be their loving parent,
no matter what happens.