Perspective Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events Why you should permit, and encourage, your teen to date by Adrienne Wichard-Edds February 14 iStock Recently, a friend lightheartedly told me about me the funny T-shirts her husband and his brothers received at a family event.
All the men who received the shirts, including her husband, were fathers of teenage girls. I cringed on behalf of daughters everywhere. What kind of antiquated message were they hoping to send here? Alas, my friend just thought the message was cute.
It was awkward to warn my dates about this ahead of time, but it gave me practice speaking up about what I needed. When my heart was inevitably broken, I cried to my mom at the kitchen table.
My family helped shape my dating standards and gave me the confidence to stick to them. Then they supported me as I tried them out in real life, even when I made mistakes. On top of that, sending your kids the message that dating is wrong seems ripe for a world of both internal and external conflict. The potential downside, however, is they might arrive at college with little experience with romantic relationships and even less experience with face-to-face social interaction overall.
That might make it more difficult to navigate relationships at a time when they are already adjusting to being away from home and their previous support systems. They compensate for their insecurity by interacting only through a [phone] screen, or through the haze of a party or under the influence. One college grad told Homayoun that she wished her campus culture had encouraged dating among students. She feels like everything is high stakes but she has zero skills to deal with it.
Definitions can vary widely. Research on self-objectification shows this is not a good formula for mental health. And if online communication involves sending nude photos, that creates a long list of issues — those photos virtually never stay on the phone of the boy who received them. Instead of patently discouraging dating, Homayoun suggests that parents talk to their teens about what dating looks like to them. It can be going to a coffee shop, planning a daytime activity, spending time getting to know each other.
And what happens then? Parents need to be aware that when a hidden relationship ends and kids are overwhelmed, that feeling of being heartbroken can be both devastating and also dangerous.
For parents, this may mean holding our tongues when our ideas get challenged, but it can lay the groundwork for a strong relationship with our kids down the road. This can be your moment to have those critical conversations about safe sex, consent and what constitutes sexual assault. This can happen on the playground, in preschool. This is not to say that parents should push their kids into romance.
Adrienne Wichard-Edds writes about parenting and cultural issues.