MOMs for Mental Health – Guidance on Teen Dating

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In today’s Moms for Mental Health Monday, Dr. Marshall provides guidance for moms on teen dating. Have a question regarding mental health? Email ‘Ask Dr. Marshall’ at Visit Moms for Mental Health at #MomsForMentalHealthMonday #AskDrMarshall #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthMattersEveryDay
Dear Dr. Marshall,
My 14-year-old has a boyfriend and wants to go on a date. How do I decide if she is old enough, and how do I set healthy boundaries?
Dear Mom For Mental Health,
This is an age-old conundrum, and there is no easy answer as it depends on numerous factors. Here are some things to consider. First, what is the definition of a “date” in this scenario? And, knowing your child best – because each child IS different – do you believe they are ready for this type of scenario? And lastly, what are your personal and cultural values and beliefs with regards to this?
One thing parents today must know is that the definition of “dating” may not be what they remember. I can recall my female friends and I having “boyfriends” in second grade. What did that mean to us? It meant absolutely nothing. You didn’t talk after school, you did not go on dates, and kissing was still considered “gross.” Having a boyfriend was just an acknowledgment that you found each other “cute.” Therefore, it is really important to understand what dating means to your child.
Most importantly, I encourage a parent to discuss with their child what they want for them in a romantic relationship, and why. Psychologists today talk about the “hook up” culture and the consequences it is creating. I would advise any parent to have an open conversation about healthy relationships. While a teen’s relationship is different from an adult relationship, it may still set a pattern that can continue well into adulthood. A teen relationship can be an opportunity to set a precedence of self respect and healthy boundaries that will follow them into adulthood. Click below for a wonderful resource on this topic for you and your teen.
Love IS Respect –
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