Youth in Focus

Guiding your teen to manage dating and relationships

Feb 2016    

As your child reaches the teenage years, he or she will naturally start being interested in the opposite sex.Do not panic! This is a natural phase of growing up. It is important that as parents, you approach your teen with an attitude of seeking to understand, guide and support them, rather than ‘telling’ them what to do. This will keep the atmosphere at home positive and the doorway to communication open.

Here are some tips to help you guide your teen:

Have a dialogue, not monologue

When parents do all the talking, even with only good intentions, you might start to sound like you are nagging, lecturing or preaching. Instead, engage your teen with open-ended questions and have a two-way conversation so they have the liberty to express their thoughts, clarify uncertainties, and discuss options.

Seek to understand why he wants to be in a relationship. Is it due to peer pressure, not wanting to be left out, loneliness, sex or status? Share your convictions but do not impose them. “Because I said so” doesn’t work for teens. Instead, provide logical explanations and compelling reasons. This way, your teen will feel a lot more comfortable and willing to approach you with their concerns and seek your advice.

Affirm their worth

Proverbs 16:24 reminds us that pleasant, nurturing words are soothing and healing; naturally, teens respond to encouragement rather than discouragement. Affirm your teen’s qualities and character and explain the value of virginity – a one-time gift that is valuable and worth saving for marriage. When your teen has your affirmation, he will value and respect himself within the context of a relationship as well.

Set a good example

Proverbs 22:6 exhorts parents to train and teach their children as they grow. This requires a grace- filled approach to moulding a young person’s character, where parents live out their own faith with transparency and honesty – showing rather than telling their teen what a living relationship with Christ is. Indeed, values are ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’.

Set ground rules and expectations

It is also important to set rules and boundaries for your teen. This includes boundaries on when your teen will be allowed to date, the type of media entertainment they can access and social media they can use. This will vary from family to family depending on the maturity and age of your teen.

Use teachable moments to discuss the consequences of premarital sex and talk about living out values in the context of relationships. Once the boundaries and consequences are clearly spelt out, your teen will have clarity on your expectations so there is no confusion.

By helping your teen take a God-centred approach to relationships, you will create positive values and attitudes that will see them through to adulthood.

© 2015 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Used by permission of Focus on the Family Singapore (www.family.org.sg), a local charity dedicated to helping families thrive through differentiated programmes, trusted resources and family counselling.

Picture by Dragon Images/Bigstock.com

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