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This is a prime opportunity to find out what they find appropriate and desirable in a romantic partner, says Crystal Reardon, director of counseling for Wake County Public School System. You have to respect your children’s feelings but also want to help keep them safe.” What to watch for: Girls usually don’t want to bring someone they’re just talking to home to their parents, say both Megan and Jennifer, so be prepared for some flak if you insist.
“You never want the guy to think you’re going, ‘Oh, we’re dating, so I want you to meet them,’” Megan says.
On the other hand, she adds, “if you’re really dating, at some point you absolutely do want your parents to meet him.” Your teen doesn’t have to be dating or talking to anyone to have a date to the prom, winter formal or Sadie Hawkins dance.
That’s because most kids go in large groups and are couples in name only.
It’s not unusual for sixth-graders to say, “I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.” Often these relationships develop through texting.
These first relationships usually don’t go beyond chatting, posing for pictures later posted on social media and requests to attend coed group outings.
Parents should try to stay on top of who their child is talking to or dating, and why — especially with younger teens.Case in point: There’s a myth in teen circles that you can’t get STDs from oral sex, Gurwitch notes.She says as cringe-inducing as this conversation will be, it has to get done. “There’s something about not sitting next to each other on a couch that makes this easier for both you and your child.” Just because teens are more casual and sophisticated about dating doesn’t mean they don’t still suffer heartbreak.Broken hearts after a breakup are real, too, and just as with adults, there’s no timetable for recovery.What to watch for: If your teen experiences signs of depression weeks after a breakup, appears to be arguing or behaving differently with their boyfriend/girlfriend, withdraws from other friends or shows signs of physical abuse such as bruises or scratches, check with your doctor, school counselor or a community psychologist right away, advise both Gurwitch and Reardon.
What to watch for: It’s time to have the “values and expectations” talk if you haven’t already.