Don’t minimize, trivialize, or make fun of your child’s first relationship. Remember that high school romances tend to be self-limiting, but look for warning signs too.If your child’s grades are dropping or they aren’t spending much time with friends anymore, consider limiting how much time is being spent with that special someone. It can be a difficult conversation for everyone involved, but it’s critical to be honest and clear about the facts.While there may be interest between two in particular, it’s not double-dating so much as a group heading out or meeting up at the movies or the mall. There’s no right answer, even if most parents feel strongly that sometime around age 35 is perfect.This kind of group stuff is a safe and healthy way to interact with members of the opposite sex without the awkwardness that a one-on-one scenario can bring. It’s important to consider your child as an individual.Be patient and sensitive, and remember that sometimes just listening is the best thing you can do.
Take note of how your child reacts when you discuss dating.Being a parent means committing to guide your child through many complicated and difficult stages of life.You go from changing their diapers, to teaching them how to tie their shoes, to eventually helping them understand dating and love.You can also consider what other parents are doing.Are lots of kids the same as yours already dating in the true sense of the word?When you’ve made a decision, be clear with your child about your expectations.Explain if and how you want your child to check in with you while they’re out, what you consider acceptable and appropriate behavior, and curfew. We may use terms like “puppy love” and “crush” to describe teenage romances, but it’s very real to them.So when it comes to dating, how can you prepare yourself to deal with potential questions and issues? This is a statistic that may strike fear in any parent’s heart, so brace yourself. It may not be the kind of “dating” you’re picturing.The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that on average, girls begin dating as early as 12 and a half years old, and boys a year older. You may be surprised to hear dating labels like “boyfriend,” “girlfriend,” and “together” from the lips of your sixth-grader.Don’t let your child learn about dating from their friends or the media.Start talking casually about what constitutes a healthy relationship to build the framework they’ll use when they’re reading to start dating.