Teenagers might get swept away in a love-at-first-sight relationship, enjoying every moment and blissfully ignoring any warning signs. While parents might want to boot their child's unimpressive boyfriend to the curb, meddling in a child's relationship rarely leads to a positive outcome for anyone. Time often can be a worried parent's best friend when a child is dating someone whom you consider a loser -- a teenager might go through several romantic relationships as he grows. Parents should be on the lookout for more serious problems in a child's relationship, which could require intervention.
Ask yourself whether a child's partner is really a "loser." Does he treat your daughter well and does your daughter seem happy dating him? While your child's boyfriend might not be an exceptional student or a hard worker, your daughter might be content with dating him for now. Most teenage relationships will not last through the college years, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Look for any signs of serious trouble in your child's relationship. If his girlfriend is frequently critical toward him or if she tries to isolate him from his family, friends and hobbies, your son might be in an unhealthy relationship, according to KidsHealth, a child development site, and you'll need to intervene.
Arrange a time to calmly discuss your concerns about your daughter's boyfriend. Open your conversation by saying, "I've noticed that Jack calls you several times a day and that you no longer spend any time with your friends. Is everything OK?" Do not press your daughter for details if she is reluctant to talk or it might backfire, according to KidsHealth. Showing that you are concerned increases the odds that she will come to you if problems continue in the future.
Educate your teenager about the kinds of behavior that should not be tolerated in a relationship. Boys and girls of various backgrounds can be victims of abusive dating behavior, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Explain that these kinds of behaviors are unlikely to improve. While you might dislike your son's girlfriend, avoid putting her down. Your conversation might encourage your son to leave a girlfriend who treats him poorly.
Encourage positive self-esteem in your daughter by giving her responsibilities around the house and encouraging her to get involved with clubs at school or volunteer groups in the community. Positive self-esteem might help your daughter realize that she is happier or more successful without her current partner, according to Jeffrey I. Dolgan and Christine McDunn, psychologists at Children's Hospital Colorado.
Provide support if your child's relationship ends. It is not uncommon for a teenager to give a relationship with someone another chance. Ask your child how he is feeling and offer support if he needs it, but avoid giving stories of your own heartbreaks, according to Dolgan and McDunn. Your support might remind your child of why the relationship ended in the first place.
- KidsHealth: Love and Romance
- KidsHealth: Am I in a Healthy Relationship?
- Children's Hospital Colorado: Teens and Romantic Relationships: Advice from a Psychologist at Children's Hospital Colorado
- Healthy Children: When to Let your Teenager Start Dating
- Healthy Children: Dating Violence: Tips for Parents
- KidsHealth: Abusive Relationships
- KidsHealth: Communication and your 13- to 18-year-old
- KidsHealth: Developing your Child's Self-Esteem
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