Written by Doctor G

Teen Dating – Tips for the Parents!

romanceMy daughter is 16 and has been in a relationship with a boy for over a year. He recently told her he was going to go to a dance with another girl. He says just as friends, and it doesn’t matter what she has to say. My daughter is really upset, by his mother telling her he needs to have his friends too. What type of advice would you recommend to comfort her or direct her?

Anonymous, in PA

There are really two questions here. The first is yours – what advice do I recommend for your daughter, and I’m happy to weigh in. The second is more important (and more up my alley) – what advice do I have for you.

Let’s start with the Mom. I’m assuming Mom, because most Dads’ reactions to this would be “So sorry, honey. Dump him.”

Decide what lesson you want your daughter to learn.

  • To value herself and demand respect?
  • To trust her instincts?
  • To be less clingy or dramatic?

Listen to her with empathy.

  • Don’t interrupt when she tells you details – the first time. This does not mean that you have to listen to repeated variations or the same stories over and over.
  • Reflect back her feelings. “I hear that you are hurt and angry.”

Don’t get sucked in.

  • Try to keep your own emotions (past or present) out of this.
  • Express your interest in the outcome without telling her exactly what to do.
  • Keep yourself a step removed from her emotions and her relationships so that you are not upset if she breaks things off.

Tailor your advice to the lesson you hope she’ll learn.  Try not to start sentences with “You just have to” or “you always…”

If your daughter asked my advice I’d ask her two questions:

“Is his behavior acceptable to you?”

“Is he treating you with respect?”

If the answer to both of these is “Yes” then accept it and move on. No recriminations, no drama, just tell him to enjoy the evening and then go enjoy your own. If the answer to either question is “No” then do what you’d tell your best friend to do in this situation – demand better or be done.

Empowering our children to handle their own relationships is one of the hardest tasks parents have. And perhaps the most valuable.

Parents, what do you do when your kids brings home relationship struggles?



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2 thoughts on “Teen Dating – Tips for the Parents!”

  1. It is so hard as a parent not to get caught up in our kids disappointment, no matter what the situation. Yet by the same token it is so incredibly important that they learn how to deal with disappointment, so I love your suggestion of expressing interest in the outcome without telling her what to do.

    1. Jessica, thank you! I met a woman who told me her father (five kids) always said the same thing when his teen came to him with a problem: “Well, that’s a fine fix you’ve gotten yourself into. I’ll be interested to see how you get yourself out.” Empathy without solutions. Hard to do!

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