I just wrote a post about the brain science behind falling in love. Whether your child is just starting dating or in a longer term relationship - here are some thing to keep in mind as you talk with your teenager about romance:
- Talk to your kids about their brains. Explain that it is better to hold off on important decisions about sex and commitment until their prefrontal cortex kicks in.
- Encourage your teen to bring boyfriends or girlfriends over to your house as much as possible. Establish a relationship with the person in your child's life. This can help if issues arise later on.
- Don't put down your child's boyfriend or girlfriend. Instead of "I can't stand your boyfriend," try "I know you care about him. Tell me some of the things you really like about him."
- Ground concerned conversations in behaviors that worry you. Again instead of "I can't stand your boyfriend," try "I've noticed that you don't spend any time with your other friends since you started dating him. Do you feel pressured to avoid your friends?"
- Look for signs of controlling behavior or physical abuse. Be concerned if your child starts isolating him or herself from their friends or other activities.
- Be clear about your expectations, rules, and consequences. For example, "I know that you don't want me to nag you about your social life. It will be a lot easier if you two comply with curfew."
- Listen. If your son or daughter has been hurt in a relationship the best thing to do is to listen, empathize, and support. Try to help your teen regain perspective after a break-up but also remember that it takes time to heal.
- Talk to your teenager regularly about sex and sexuality.