The old worries about teen pregnancy, tarnished reputations and broken hearts still apply, but today there are new risks due to rising rates of dating violence and sexually-transmitted infections (STIs).
What can a parent do to make sure their dating teens are happy and safe?
As parents, we all want our teens to have good early relationships, so we should discuss what constitutes a healthy relationship before they begin dating.
We can help them to expect good communication, respect, trust, fairness, honesty and equality.
Lynn Ponton, University of California San Francisco professor of adolescent psychiatry and author of The Sex Lives of Teenagers and The Romance of Risk, and Nancy Brown, a developmental psychologist and education projects manager for Palo Alto Medical Foundation, both agree: Parents should set the stage for safe dating long before their child becomes a teen.How many times have you heard someone say, “She’s such a flirt” or “He’s going to be a real ladies' man” about a baby?Or tease a young child by saying, “Is he your boyfriend?We have to be careful not to push teens into dating, especially younger teens who are still in middle school.Studies show that the earlier teens start dating and having relationships, the sooner sexual activity takes place.
To help ensure your teen has a positive dating experience, here are a few things to consider when preparing for your conversation.