Teen Dating

Why it’s important for parents to have a heart-to-heart with teens before they starts dating.

Is your teen beginning to date? Because young people are so unique, when they show interest in dating varies from the early teen years to the later ones. But there are signs that your teen is contemplating dating. Sexual health educator Carly Hall says when your teen begins to date depends on “the child’s development and where they’re at. Different ages are ready for different issues. If they have friends of the opposite sex then they will quite often start relationships; what their friends are doing as well has a big impact. If their friends are all dating, then it’s likely that they’ll start dating as well. Those sort of clues might be a sign that it’s time to sit down and have a little discussion about dating and issues such as safety and respecting your partners. Those things are worth discussing with girls and boys at that point.”

It is worth noting too that the age when youth become sexually active is getting steadily younger. In fact some studies point out that by the time teens graduate from high school, 50% will have engaged in sex. Because of sexually transmitted diseases including the HIV, it’s important for parents to be open, honest and informative with their teens about sex, explains sexual health educator Linda Short. “Sex has become part of teen culture and whether we like it or not it’s there and we need to protect young people so they can behave in ways that are healthier for them, by helping them choose not to be sexually active if that’s what they want, but also by giving them the information that they will need if they choose to be sexually active. Information about where to get contraception and how to practice safer sex is important.”

Linda adds that being clear about your own values is also important as long as it doesn’t cloud the facts. “There’s nothing wrong with parents giving a double message; ‘I would prefer that you wait, that increased maturity would lead to better decisions, but if you choose to be sexually active then what I want for you is that you’re protected, that you don’t have to cope with an unwanted pregnancy during the teen years or sexually transmitted diseases that will alter your ability to have children later in life, so this is what you should do if you make that choice’.”

Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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