Updated 17 April 2015

How to deal with your teen’s first love

Your love-strung teenager has gone from being your little angel to someone’s high-school sweetheart. How best to handle it?

You may be a cool parent, but the blushing, texting, and giggling that starts once your teenager falls in love could leave you a little uneasy. 

You may still be obsessed with keeping them out of harm's way (what if they were rejected or hurt, or what if they fell pregnant?!)  

To ensure that your protective instinct doesn’t turn you into a violent monster-parent, here are 5 healthy ways to deal with the transition:

1.    Set boundaries

Your teenager needs to be aware of your rules and what you’ll tolerate when it comes to their new romance.

If you make your child a part of the rule-setting process, they are more likely to stick to them. 

“It is best for boundaries to be created by both the parent and the teenager so that each party understands the other's reasoning and concerns,” says Daryn Jones, high school counsellor and teen expert in the Western Cape.

2.    Have the sex talk

As uncomfortable as this may be, it is necessary that you have age-appropriate talks with your child about sex and sexuality as well as healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Jones suggests that this should be an ongoing discussion as your child develops and needs to deal with the various emotions and complexities of life.

Read: How to get your kids to really talk to you

3.    Be welcoming

Be inviting towards your child’s partner when he/she comes to your home. This will help you better monitor how the relationship is developing and gauge whether it is healthy for your child.

It will also allow the partner to become accustomed to your rules and boundaries.

ReadTeens look at parents as role models

4.    Lead by example

Show your child what a healthy relationship looks like by modelling respect, compromise, and love as healthy relationship traits.

A Canadian study showed teens look to the example set by their parents before they are influenced by friends and the media.

The study also showed that the teens who saw their parents as role models most often came from families where talking about sexuality is encouraged.

5. Don't judge

You may be tempted to tease your teen or laugh it off as puppy love - don't do it. A person's first love is extremely powerful and remembered for the rest of their life.

Rather step back, support and remember your own experience all those years ago. 

Sources: Health24; Parenting today

Read more:

Teens with happy parents have happy marriages
When young love hurts
Make nice with Mom


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