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Handling teenage dating

Maria Fernandes

Most parents are in a dilemma as to how they should handle their children’s first romance or love as teenagers call it. Parents often feel their children are too young and should instead concentrate on their studies and not waste time on romance or mooning about their so called loves.

While some teens tend to be interested in dating earlier than others, romantic interests are normal during adolescence. Navigating the world of romantic relationships can be scary for both parents and teens alike. Not only are the teenagers trying to figure out their raging hormones but parents too are trying to take in the situation and handle it the best way they can. They may question the judgment and safety of their teen but this can cause resentment in their teenager and strained relationships in the family and in some extreme cases, can push the teen to seek out unhealthy relationships.

The rules of dating today have changed drastically. Mixing freely with the opposite sex is no longer considered taboo and the opportunities to make friends and socialise have increased hundred fold. Parents have also realised that a platonic relationship between a boy and girl is possible. However, parents do worry and not without reason, as they know that adolescence is a time when the body undergoes many significant changes which include hormonal fluctuations and brain development. Attitudes, perception and behaviour too change at this time. It is also the time when youngsters awaken to their sexuality. Parents may find it difficult to digest the fact that their children have or are having sexual feelings but it is a fact that has to be accepted.

Studies have shown that the age of youngsters losing their virginity has drastically reduced. In cities it is common for youngsters as young as 13 and 14 to have boyfriends and be in a relationship. Goa too is witnessing this scenario with the number of teenagers in a relationship.

So what should parents do? Should they curtail or forbid their children’s interactions with the opposite sex?

Most definitely not! By forbidding socialising with the opposite sex you will not only get in their bad books but will force them to do things behind your back which in turn will cause you endless worry and alienate you from them. Dating is a very normal behaviour and parents need to remember that though their children appear all grown up, they still require guidance. You may think they already know how to date; but they probably don’t as most of their information comes from media that is meant to be entertaining rather than realistic. Make them understand what a loving and supporting relationship is and then have certain rules so they know their boundaries. Also keeping the lines of communication open between them and you is equally important.

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