Discussing dating with your teens before school begin.
If you were to talk with your tweens about dating and going to school, have you ever thought about how the conversation would turn out? As a youth speaker, I am commonly broached with these types of questions from teens when parents don't address the topic at home. How soon is too soon to date? What are the rules? When can I date? Yes, as the babies get older their hormones do begin to kick into gear with topics that include dating.
After recently concluding a workshop, I was approached by several tweens about my views on being old enough to date. I was not surprised because it is common for parents to put the subject on the back burner. Before I offered a response, I wanted to ask them some questions of my own. Most of the questions I was asked were pertinent to the tweens age group; however here were some of my questions I asked the teenagers:
Roland Hinds: What did dating mean to them?
Tweens Response: Amazingly, the answers varied between the tween girls and boys. The girls thought of dating as an opportunity to talk to multiple guys with no strings attached, whereas the guys were more interested in having an exclusive relationship. Many of the young teen girls said, they were unsure about their role and responsibilities of dating so early. As expected, many of the boys thought of dating from a physical perspective, such as holding hands and kissing.
On that note, I obviously agreed with the tweens girls. Talk, talk, talk, but no kissing. Call me old fashion, but there is no reason to engage in a serious relationships until a college degree is in hand or at least in the works. Okay, some of tweens presumed I was crazy until we spoke about the emotions and energy it takes to manage a relationship. Some of the youths were astonished that there was so much more involved in dating and it was not all fun and games.
Roland Hinds: Did the tweens feel ready to date?
Tweens Response: Many of the younger tween girls (ages 13-16) did not feel they were ready to date, while the boys on the other hand were in total disagreement. Across the board, the boys spoke as if they had all the answers about dating.
The older tweens had a different viewpoint than their counterpart on what they thought about dating. For many of the young ladies (ages 17-19), dating meant having a sense independence to make a conscious decision to date another young person. The tables were turned for the older tween guys, they felt it was a prime opportunity to date multiple girls without restrictions.
What had changed between the tweens? The girls had become more selective about their dating choices, whereas the guys were ready to sow their oats. This is where I felt compelled to explain the variance between both genders to the boys. There were a few things some of the teens boys had not thought about such as, girls emotions and pregnancy. Yes, I exclaimed, girls do have emotions and can get pregnant. I shared with them how teen pregnancy reduced opportunities to succeed making the road difficult to accomplish future goals. What does this all mean? Parents, get busy talking to your children before "puppy love" sets in. Save your children from learning the "in's and out" of dating from their peers at school.
Roland Hinds: Was it time to have "the talk?"
Tweens Response: Most parents of the tweens had not spoken about the "birds and bees" and what the tweens should expect going back to school. There were a few girls who said there fathers had spoken briefly to them about sexual education and boys, however this is where the conversation took a different path for the young men. Many of the male tweens had not received a "sit down" talk from their parents.
It's official, parents have to engage their children by speaking about critical topics pertaining to their development into young adulthood. Don't worry about giving too much information, arming a child with ample knowledge is essential. What should you be talking about? A great start would be about inappropriate behavior in school and social media such as, sexting, oral copulation and other sensitive matters. These are topics adults hear about everyday in the news, but may not feel it could happen to their child. It will happen to someone's child, why not protect yours?
Help your child to remain focused on her academics by preparing her for the real world at home. Always strive to maintain an open dialogue with your child building trust.
- Relationship Guru and author, Roland Hinds is best known for helping people through unique crisis. His book, "Are You The Right One For Me? Whose Choice Is It Anyway?" address those who are experiencing unsuccessful relationships. He also host an online podcast, TruVue Radio focusing on various types of relationships. His next book is due out in 2012, "Living in the World - Dating Christian" geared towards Christians who have problems dating.