When parents start having children, it is always very exciting. Watching them grow from wearing diapers to beginning kindergarten is always filled with emotions and expectations. Somewhere deep down, you wish they grow up and save you the stress of having to clean up after them and do a whole lot of other things. But, on another part of your mind, you just wish they would remain little forever because you know in the nearest future you would have to deal with things like adolescents and them becoming rebellious.
Teenagers are very wonderful people and you know your children are definitely going to get to that point in their life. When your teenager begins to date someone that you do not approve of, it can be a bitter pill to swallow. In fact, if you are a parent who still has toddlers we need you to have it at the back of your mind that this is a classic dilemma that you will have to face at some point. The question now is how do you handle this situation? is it best to just tell your teen how you really feel? Or, is it a better option to just keep things to yourself and let them play out?
This is one of those situations that require much consideration and also a seasoned choice of words when you finally bring up the issue. What we are trying to say here is that this is a situation where you tread with caution so that you don’t make conditions worse.
In other words, you must ask yourself if you’re making unfair junctions or being judgmental about the person your teenager is dating. For example, find out if what you’re doing is allowing your personal bias or expectations to play a role in the equation. Are you concerned about things like a race, religion? Or even socioeconomic status? If you realise that any of these things at the root of your displeasure then it might just be best that you take a few steps back and engage in some self examination before you do or say anything. If things like this are not the route of your concern and you are convinced that you have good reasons to object to your teenagers choice of dating partner then you must proceed with caution.
As a matter of fact, it is never a good idea to criticize teenagers about their choices of dating partner lecturing them and offering too much advice is also not a good idea even though you’re coming from a place of love. No matter how match your intentions are for the best, whenever parents approach their teenagers with full force and proceed to express their displeasure, teenagers are meant to become rebellious and in most cases ignore them, and that would further push them closer to the person you’re trying to draw them away from. The harder you push, the more defeated your purpose becomes because your teenager would go deeper into the relationship that you are trying to destroy.
So instead of being an overprotective and invasive parents, we have gathered together some suggestions on how you can easily work through this minefield without pushing your teenager deeper into the relationship with that other kid and destroying the relationship you have built with your child over the years.
Start by asking questions
Before jumping into conclusions about your teenagers choice of dating partner begin by asking important questions. The key here is to discover what your teenager is thinking and what things attracted them to the person in the first place. what you want to do is engaged him in a friendly conversation and get to bond with them while knowing what it is that is going on in their head. ask questions like:
- How did the both of you meet?
- What exactly do you like about this person you’re dating?
- What are the things the both of you do together that you enjoy?
- What are the interest of your dating partner?
- What do you like most about your relationship with this person?
make sure that you are open-minded and you are truly listening to the answers that your teenager is given. if you begin to see your teenager as a grown up it will help you understand them better because they can tell when you are trying to put them in the spotlight or see reasons why their relationship should not continue or will not work. This is one reason why you should establish a friendly relationship with your child from an early age so that they can feel free to open up to you and also feel comfortable enough not to fear that you would judge them or you would try to change their minds about things they are passionate about. So if you feel you’re not in a place where you can be open-minded enough to genuinely ask questions and listen carefully to the answers then it just might be the best idea that you hold off on asking your teenagers about the people they are dating.
Trust your teenager
Remind yourself that you were the one who raised your child you worked as hard as you can to instill values and for that reason, you have to trust that your teenager is eventually going to see their significant other the way you see them (that is if really the contradict the person you have raised). Trust your teenager to make the very best decision at the end of the day.
In fact, if you do not sense any imminent danger that your teenager might be in, then it is the best idea that you just keep your feelings to yourself and allow them to figure things out on their own. The truth is your teenager can sense your disapproval even without you saying much, but it is still better that you allow them to follow their own path and decide on what they want to do.
Extending an invite is not a bad idea
Avoid making any form of judgements about the person your teenager is dating, but instead, make out some time to get to know this person. Invite the person your teenager is dating over to the house for dinner or just invite them for any family outing. Watch how they interact with your teenager. Pay close attention to discover if your child is redeeming any qualities about the person that you probably have missed. Try to see things through the eyes of your teenager instead of focusing on what you dislike or disapprove of. Keeping an open mind will help you to understand things the way they truly are instead of seeing things the way you want to see them.
Look for positive traits
When you are around your teen the person your teen is dating, it is vital that you keep an open mind. Look out for positive characters and personality traits. Try to view the relationship they have as if you were a teenager. Imagine what it is that your teenager sees in this person. What exactly could the attraction be? Once you’re able to understand where your teenager is coming from, it will go a long way in equipping you with empathy and also more understanding.
Once you begin to see things this way if ever you’re teenager goes through a rough patch with this person or need to talk about any problems or conflict they are experiencing in the relationship you will not find yourself saying things like “I knew she was no good” or “I never liked him in the first place”. Even though you won’t be entirely wrong if you say that, you would not want to emphasise the fact that you were right in such a manner. It is a lot better if you have a clear understanding of the initial attraction between the both of them so that you can still understand the loss your teenager is experiencing if ever the relationship comes to an end.
Make an effort
As much as you may not approve of your teenagers choice of a dating partner be sure to make conscious efforts to be kind approachable and respectful. have it in mind that if you choose to be standoffish and rude to your teenager and the person they are dating you would likely get the same treatment in return. It is best that parents do the best they can to make the person their teenager is dating feel welcomed in their home.
When your teenager’s boyfriend or girlfriend feels welcome in your home, they can relax and be themselves so that you get to see the real version of them. You may have to start up a conversation or maybe give them a genuine compliment to make them feel like a part of your home. The game you’re playing here is that of OK I want to be the co-parent, and I want to get to understand what’s the both of you have. Nobody enjoys being in an environment where they feel unwanted or unwelcome. Make sure that you do your possible best to be homely and also have it in mind that if the two of them feel very comfortable in your home, it will be easier for you to observe and monitor the relationship. So that if anything is going wrong at any point, you can step in because you have been in the know.
Take a long term view of the relationship
Even though it is always very difficult for parents to watch their teenager being a relationship with someone that they know is not good for them, it is vital that the parents do not rush into changing anything.
A more effective option is if a parent can calm down to take a long-term view of the relationship their teenager has with the said person. The relationship is most likely not going to last. We already know that it is rare for high school sweetheart to make it to the altar. For this reason, it is more effective just to keep reminding yourself that the relationship will most likely run its course and all you need to do is be patient and not be so afraid however you must get ready to take care of your teeth when they eventually get heartbroken.
Give your teenager some space
Teenagers need to learn how to make their own decisions; it is very important. Teenagers also need the privilege to make their own mistakes and also learn from them if you pay all your attention to controlling the situation or ending the relationship, you will be disrupting the learning process, and also sabotaging your teenager’s self-esteem and confidence.
It is important that you allow teenagers the space to discover the truth about who they are dating. If you give your teenager, enough space chances are that they would discover what it is that you want them to discover and do the right thing about the relationship and the good part about this is that learning in this manner will play a vital in their future relationships.
Avoid making threats
Giving your teenager and ultimatums is never a good option. Doing such a thing will only alienate your teenager. Additionally, if your teenager decides to keep dating this person, he or she would definitely tell you whenever your attention is really needed. The major field teenager would have is the part where you get to tell them I told you so so as much as you may assume that the relationship is a terrible idea. Never take it to the point of dishing out threats to achieve what you want.
Choose your words carefully
If ever you witness something that you think is inappropriate it is essential that you express yourself but make sure that you do this respectfully and calmly.
Do not forget that the person in question is someone that your teenager cares about and it’s likely going to be defensive. The best option will be to speak in general terms when you are expressing your concerns.
Take for example, if your teenager’s boyfriend criticises what she’s wearing and you witness it, you could bring up the issue by asking her how she felt when he made such a comment about her clothes.
Ask your daughter what she thinks rather than giving her opinion or telling her point blank that what her significant other did is wrong. The goal is to make her realise on her own that such types of comments cannot be part of a healthy relationship.
Always keep communication open
Check in with your child from time to time about the relationship they are in. Your teenager has to feel like if they are having problems in the relationship, they are in they should be able to talk to you about it without getting criticised. It is best if your teenager can feel like they’re safe to come to you without getting judged or criticised. That way whenever there is the danger you get to know. Make sure that even if you have a different opinion, your teenager still feels safe in seeing things differently from the way you see them it will go a long way in helping the both of you maintain good communication and openness.
Talk about sex again
If your teenager has begun to date, then there is a high possibility that you must have discussed about dating, sexting, sex, sexual assault, and other important issues that need to be addressed with teenagers. And even though you may believe that there may be tiny risks of your teenager becoming sexually active or even getting assaulted it is always a good option that you discuss issues like this with them. We know it was earlier stated that you should not offer too much advice, but a little reminder would never hurt even though it makes both of you uncomfortable. The importance of such kind of education can never be overemphasised. However, do not forget that not everything involved in a relationship is sexually active.
Intervene if there is any kind of abuse
When it comes to taking a stand to put an end to a teenagers relationship the only time when you have a right to do so is when dating violence is involved. Whenever your teen’s security and safety is being threatened, you should never just sit back and watch regardless of whether it is physical or emotional. While you may not have to take absolute control of the situation, it is vital that you guide your teen on how to end the relationship and also stay safe even if it means making a police report or getting a restraining order. Make sure that the relationship comes to an end when your teenager is ready because if it is done in a rush the both of them might end up getting back together and that will put your thing that can increase the risk for harm.
Do not forget that a lot of us humans learn from approval from people that we love to make sure that your teenager is comfortable with you and do not be hostile to them in any way regardless of how concerned you are about their safety and choices.
We would love to hear from you if you have experienced such a situation or you have any extra ideas or suggestions that may be helpful to other readers. Please feel free to use the comment section below.