Your child will soon be having her first crush. How will you deal with it when the time comes?
Often when parents realize that their child has now started showing interest in the opposite sex, they try to do all they can to quell such interest. Needless to say, when your child gets distracted by thoughts of that cute boy in her class, she's not going to get a whole lot of studying done. This is what often worries parents, who feel that children should focus on their studies at this stage. Love is for later.
However, logical as this may seem, things don't always go according to plan. But how you deal with your child's first crush will largely set the tone for everything else that is to follow.
Did your child reveal her crush to you herself, or did you find out from others, or by overhearing her conversations with friends? Perhaps you stumbled upon a revealing SMS or two. Instead of lashing out at her, ask yourself why she did not come to you with her thoughts. Are you too strict a parent? Did she know you were going to disapprove?
Keep the lines of communication open with your teen. But, don't embarrass them by saying silly things such as 'Susie loves Johnnie'. Your teen's first crush isn't a joke to them. The feelings they have are very real. Communicate with your teen on a genuine basis. Don't pass off their feelings as if they are quirky. As adults, we know that teens can feel deeply about someone today and next month they may be having feelings for someone else. This is part of growing up and experiencing the opposite sex. This should not undermine that what they feel is real. It's real in their own sense of what they have experienced in life thus far.
Understand that your child will have crushes, whether you like them or not. Such crushes will form a large part of your child's growing years. Short of taking her out of school or limiting her access to all members of the opposite sex - which would be extremely unhealthy by the way - there is little you can do to prevent this from happening. It is better if you try and be a friend to your child. This way you are assured of her confidence at least through her teens.
Communite values in relationships by example. Don't tell your teen not to do something that you do yourself. If you have someone in your life who is constantly disrespecting, abusing or belittling you, your teen will possibly believe that's the normal. They may get involved with someone who is disrespectful or abusive to them. By example, show your teen what boundaries are in healthy relationships. Verbally communicate what healthy relationships consist of. The family dynamics can greatly impact a teen and their experiences with the opposite sex.
Don't dismiss her comments as nonsense. If she says she is in love, don't say, "Rubbish, you don't even know the meaning of the word." Teenagers hurt just as much when they have a crush, as any adult. Instead, ask her to tell you about him and get her to be open with you. You could then even give her advice on how she can and should ensure she gets the respect she deserves by not chasing him, not giving him 'blank calls' and so on.
Many adults who fall in love, get married and then opt for a divorce too suddenly realize that perhaps they were never in love at all. So take your child's words seriously or she may stop coming to you and prefer talking to friends.
You could also then set limits for dating, which could range to disallowing it completely to allowing it after your child reaches a certain age. Each family has its own sets of rules in this regard. Some children meet members of the opposite sex without their parents knowledge, and they may indulge in activities they later regret. But if you are an understanding parent, chances are, they will draw the line where you tell them to, as they know they have your trust and would rather not abuse it.
First of all, remember that everyone has their first crush. It's a normal part of growing up and may happen at different ages. Of course, in today's world there is so much to worry about when a teen becomes interested in the opposite sex. Parents wonder how deeply involved their teen may get and how will their teen handle the crush and dating responsibly.
A parent has to act responsibly in this situation so that, in turn, their teen will also act responsibly. The worst thing a parent can do is to overreact and start yelling about all the bad things that can happen with their teen and their first crush. You may have found out about your teen's crush through someone other than your teen. This could be because your teen is a bit embarrassed because of these new feelings that are stirring within or they may have been afraid you would disapprove or overreact. This is a good time to assess the relationship you have with your teen.
Teens have different reasons for not confiding in their parents about certain things. The reasons aren't all bad, but when your teen has the opposite sex on their mind, it's crucial to maintain as close of a relationship to them as possible. Even though they don't want to admit it, they need your guidance. How you deal with your teen's crush will have a lot to do with how they relate to you during their entire teen years. They will either see you as someone they can turn to or someone who is going to blow up about everything. Guidance can be given to a teen without harsh words, yelling or overreacting.
Even though you want to openly communicate with your teen and talk to them respectfully about their first crush and dating, this does not mean there shouldn't be guidelines for dating. Guidelines for dating are very important and they should be held to firmly and consistently. Set your guidelines for curfews, dating, phone calls, etc. according to your values and what is appropriate for your teen's age.
Complete Idiot's Guide to Dating for Teens
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