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Parental Influence on Dating

by Barbie Carpenter

After children enter their teen years, parents wait with trepidation as their child starts to show interest in dating. Dating is a milestone of child development, and learning about healthful relationships during the teen years can encourage your child to seek positive connections as an adult. As a parent, you can have a positive influence in your teen's dating life, and your influence offers benefits that extend far beyond those early, naive relationships. Understand how you can positively affect your teen's dating life with effective parenting strategies.

Establish Rules

Parents can influence their teen's dating behavior from the onset by establishing clear rules and expectations. Foremost, you can tell your teen when she can begin dating. According to the Iowa State University Extension office, children do not have the social skills to date appropriately before the age of 14. Some parents wait until the age of 15 or 16 to allow dating. You can ease your teen into the dating world by encouraging group dating first. Other dating rules should establish curfews, appropriate and inappropriate dates and the age of potential dates.

Be Realistic

Your teen is going to want to date. Forbidding dating entirely can have negative consequences.Your teen might date behind your back, engaging in risky behaviors without your knowledge. You will not know the person he is dating or what he is doing on dates. By allowing teen dating and establishing realistic rules that protect your teen, you can allow him to explore healthy relationships in a safe and age-appropriate way.

Discuss the Risks

Ideally, dating will allow your teen to learn how to forge relationships with others without any heartbreak or drama. Realistically, teen dating comes with risks. In addition to the emotional turmoil of a failed teen relationship, your teen faces even more serious risks. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, one in 10 high school students is a victim of dating violence. Talk to your teen about dating violence, risks associated with early sexual activity and peer pressure. A well-informed teen will make smart choices when it comes to relationships, including knowing when to end them.

Stay Involved

Parents who communicate with their teens can improve their dating experience. Keep lines of communication open with your teen about his dating life. Ask him about who he is dating, and get to know the person he is seeing. Know what your teen is doing after school and on weekends. Encourage extracurricular activities to keep your teen focused on important tasks, not just his dating life. Maintain a caring, supportive relationship with your teen. A healthy parent-child relationship can encourage your teen to seek out healthy romantic relationships when he begins dating, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension office.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images