Remember your first major crush or love affair back in high school? Maybe it was even middle school. In any case, love is a tricky topic to talk about with teenagers. Many are too attached or too distant, so here are ways you can listen and love.
Maybe it's more than puppy love when your teenage daughter comes home late at night and locks up her diary. Maybe your son has been taking more time to get ready for school. If your son or daughter is hiding a big part of his or her life from you, here are some ways you can talk and counsel your teen (without scolding or instructing) on his or her first big relationship.
Encourage the relationship, but set boundaries
While you want your child to have these first big experiences and feel loved, it's important to also set up some rules. You may not want both of them to be alone in the house or a room. She may have to be home at a certain hour. Talk with your teen about setting up guidelines and let him or her enjoy the experience.
Meet the parents
It's not a wedding, but it's still important to know the other family and know who your son or daughter is dating. Keep up conversations between everyone in order to maintain strong ties.
Be there to listen
Maybe your daughter doesn't have a boyfriend but needs someone to tell daily stories to. Half the time these stories can be very interesting, so stick around and enjoy this part of your daughter's life. If she is a bit boy obsessed, encourage girl group hangouts and group dating activities.
Take your child's side
If you are listening to a story and are asked for advice, don't tell your daughter that she talks too much or your son that he cares too much. Just listen to what he or she has to say. However, if your child is being unreasonable, then it's okay to let him or her know and encourage better relationship skills. For example, if I ever went off too strong and was a bit sarcastic or sassy to a boy, my mother would remind me that it wasn't nice and that I needed to give everyone a chance. That advice really helped me in developing relationships.
Try to discourage excessive posting
Teens are too quick to post about everything that's going on in their lives on the Internet. Before your daughter writes a sappy status about her latest love, counsel her to think. Remind your children that technology is not the best way to go about carrying on a relationship. However, I have had many great friendships begin and last online when they couldn't physically happen in person.
Each relationship is entirely different and has its own set of complications. As a parent, you should be there in all cases, even if your child isn't always open or talkative. First commitments can be awkward and at times, overdramatic, but it is more important to love and be loved than live life with fear. Make sure your teenager doesn't worry too much − that's one thing teens are good at. Try to encourage your teenager to not overthink everything about his or her relationships.
Jenna Koford is on the content team at FamilyShare. She graduated with a degree in Communications—Journalism and a minor in editing. Jenna enjoys painting and calligraphy, planning a wedding, and Pinterest and Netflix.