Ahhh, teenagers. Gotta love 'em. They question authority, push boundaries, and are so creative in their thinking. That's why as parents, it's best to be prepared, be specific, and be clear. Yesterday Christy discussed why teens need boundaries in the first place, and why technology boundaries specifically are crucial. Today we'll tackle another important area for teens: Dating.
Teens Need Dating Boundaries
Whether they believe it or not, teens don't know everything. They lack experience, wisdom, rules for safety, and parameters. All the emotions and hormones flying around at this age can also cloud a teen's judgment and ability to make decisions regarding their dating boundaries.
This is why it's extremely important for parents to come up with a plan themselves which they believe matches their family & faith values, and then verbally communicate these values with their teenagers.
Some things to consider:
- At what age is your teen allowed to begin dating one-on-one?
- Do you need to meet their dating partner first before your child goes out with them?
- Is your teen allowed to go on one-on-one dates upfront, or group dates only? Perhaps group dates until you're assured your teen's date is trustworthy?
- Is your teen allowed to ride in a car alone with their date? Do they need to meet separately at locations until you determine your child's date is trustworthy?
- Will you limit the number of times a week your child is allowed to go out on dates, or can they date any night of the week (school nights and/or weekends)?
- What time do you expect your child to come back home? Is there a curfew? What are the consequences if the curfew is disrespected?
- Can your teen and their date leave town? Do they need to stay in town? Do they need permission to leave town?
And I'm sure you can add more to the list! The above list may seem extreme to some. The design of boundaries isn't mean to be inflexible but to be protective. By having boundaries with your teens and dating, you're teaching them here and now - and in the future - to think about their behavior and possible future consequences. When your daughter is in college it will be nice to know she'll have a gut instinct to arrange to meet the new guy separately at a local hangout, rather than get into the car with him when they're total strangers.
Teens don't have the wisdom to know to make the best decisions. As parents, having boundaries with them is the safest and healthiest way to guide them toward that knowledge.
Written by: Tamara McCord MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.