Teen Dating Help for Parents: The Changing Dating Landscape, PART 2 “This two part series explores the key differences between the dating game a decade and more ago, and the dating behaviors of the millennial teenagers.” Introduction to Teen Dating Help for Today’s Parent In my previous article post on teen dating help for parents today, I began exploring some of the key differences between the dating landscapes now and when we, as parents, were kids. The first two important changes discussed were (1) teenagers meet and hangout in groups rather than going on one-on-one dates, and (2) the temptation to pursue a physical relationship in the afternoon (after school and before you get home from work) more so than the evening or nighttime. Teens are often revved up and heading down a dangerous road. In this article, the second and final installment of this teen dating help series, I shall discuss some of the other key shifts in the dating terrain. The goal is to equip parents with a more current understanding of the ‘dating game’ so that they can provide more appropriate and useful teen dating help to their children on their journey in life and future love. Parenting Teens: Teen Dating Help for the 21st Century 3. Teen Dating Help: Kids make dates and communicate by cell phones Remember when your teen date would show up at your front door to pick you up in the ’67 Chevy? How awkward it was for him to meet your parents for the first time? Well, as awkward as that might have felt, it reinforces a feeling of responsibility in dating. It also gives those that are parenting teens the opportunity to see what kind of partner their daughter is steering toward. Now, cell phones enable teens to communicate and interact discretely; entirely away from their parent’s eyes and ears. It’s not uncommon for a boyfriend to call from the driveway, texting their date that they have arrived to pick them up, rather than knocking on the door and introducing himself to her parents! The best teen dating help you can provide your daughter with is to insist that all dates show up at the door. Yep, use those
boney knuckles to knock and wait for the door to open. Face to face with the enforcer of the home who has every right to lay down the law regarding the sweet young lady about to step across the threshold of infatuation. This teen dating help is a two-way street: parents of boys should teach their sons to behave like gentlemen and brave the awkwardness to demonstrate their character to their date and her parents. (First the front door—then the car door.) Teen guys should open the car door for their date, not because she can’t but because it shows respect. This “detachment” is not the only problem cell phones cause. They facilitate constant communication, an artificial sense of relationship that can take the place of the necessary face-to-face conversation. So, when teens do get together, they skip straight to physical exploration. Those parenting teens would be shocked to learn how many kids use cell phones for key communications, such as asking a girl or guy out, or even as a means to deliver break up messages! My guess is that teens would rather drive a real car than a simulation game. If they want a real relationship, then trust this teen dating help: nothing beats face-to-face. “Gee, Betty, I can see by your text message your hair looks really pretty today!” “Golly, Jeffrey, I’m sure glad I can’t see you playing Xbox while we are having this heart-to-heart texting about our future goals and dreams!” Cell phones also accelerate news about parties and other social gatherings, which can distract teens from schoolwork, family time and planning for their future. The best teen dating help those parenting teens can provide is to regulate the use of cell phones. Here are some suggestions you may find helpful in creating guidelines that keep teens between the lines: •
Teen Dating Help # 1: Determine an appropriate time to end all calls on weeknights as well as weekends. After that agreed time, phone batteries are charged in the parent’s bedroom to promote a full night of sleep…for everyone!
Teen Dating Help # 2: Family plan means you get to pay the bill AND check the bill for use. If they want privacy, then private pay comes with that privilege. If you’re parenting teens, then determine in advance if that is the best course of action for your son or daughter based on trust and maturity. Rule of thumb, if they are paying for their car, gas and insurance, they are probably ready to pay their own cell phone bill.
Teen Dating Help # 3: Get three to five of your child’s friends’ phone numbers (both home and cell phone) for emergencies. Stuff happens and it is peace of mind for everyone to know how to reach a family member.
Cell phones allow for incredible freedom and while you don’t want your teen to feel like they are locked in the garage, they need to respect your authority. The best teen dating help is to allow your children enough freedom to grow and explore, but to strongly enforce rules that will keep them out of trouble. That is why there are “rules of the road!”
4. Teen Dating Help for Those Parenting Teens: Online Dating The last bit of teen dating help, but certainly not the least - Instead of meeting people face-toface and deciding, via social interaction, whether a guy or girl is compatible with them, your teens are meeting potential dates online. Those parenting teens can no more keep their kids from shopping for friends online anymore that they can keep them from shopping for cars online. It’s like nailing Jell-O to a tree! The dangers of online dating and socializing may be obvious to those parenting teens, but your kids may be completely naïve. The best teen dating help you can provide your kids with is to insist that they set their social media profile settings (for Facebook, MySpace, etc.) to private and to ignore the advances of people they do not know outside of school or their immediate friendship circles. Trust this teen dating help: the keys to the car are like the passwords to Facebook. Give both or don’t give either. They can be equally as dangerous. Also, keep the computer communal, so that your teen is accustomed to using it where you can see what they’re up to. Some Final Teen Dating Help for Those Parenting Teens Remember, with love, support and trust, you can teach your teen to be responsible and to make the best decisions. While the dating landscape has changed considerably, and - with the dominant role of cell phones and the Internet as today’s form of communication – teen dating can prove to be more hazardous, but there are things that those parenting teens can do to steer their kids away from the worst of it. I hope this teen dating help helps you teach your teens to “date defensively, navigate safely and steer clear of unhealthy relationships!”