Teenagers are known for being strong-willed and hard-headed; the more you tell them they can’t do something, the more they want to do it. When you’re a parent, it’s easy to forget how you felt when you were a teen; all the fights with your parents and missed curfews. It’s a good idea to stop and think about yourself as a teenager before you set out to create the perfect teen dating rules.
Every teenager and parent is different and each parent has different ideals and expectations for their child. One set of rules will not work for every household with a rebellious teen, but perhaps these guidelines will give you a place to start and a few ideas.
Trust Is a Two-Way Street
When you decide to sit down and discuss dating rules with your teenager, their first line of defense against any rules that they deem “unfair” will be that you simply do not trust them. While you do have to offer trust to your teen in order for them to become capable adults, it’s important that they realize that trust must be earned.
It’s often a good idea to start out with strict rules that can be negotiated, altered, or loosened as time goes by. Once your child has proven that they are willing to follow set rules, you can start to offer them more freedom. The key is to tighten things back up the first time they fail to meet expectations. Also emphasize to your teen that while you may trust them, the people that they associate with have in no way earned your trust. You never really know what kinds of friends your teen is associating with, and strict rules are often set in place to keep them safe.
Let your teen know that you trust them to do the right things and make the right choices. Consequences must also be set in place when they fail to do the right thing.
While there is not a universal handbook of teen dating rules, there are many basic rules that almost any household can implement. The basics include:
Curfew: Have a set time that your teen is expected to be home. This is generally earlier during the week and a few hours longer on weekends. Be sure to have strict consequences in place if they fail to be home by curfew.
Check-ins: Have your teen call at set times to check in with you and let you know where they are and that they are okay.
Transportation: Set rules about who they are allowed to ride in a car with simply as a matter of safety. Newly-licensed teens in a car tend to be fearless which results in tragic accidents with fatal results.
Who, Where, What and When: Make it mandatory for your teen to let you know where they are going, who they are going to be with, what they will be doing, and when they will arriving and leaving. You as a concerned parent deserve to know where your teen is at all times and who they are with. Many parents will ask several times in order to make sure that they get the same story each time. Also require your teen to let you meet their friends before they are allowed to go out with them.
Sexuality: You will need to have a long talk with your teen about what is and is not appropriate when it comes to the physical aspects of dating. Teen hormones have a tendency to get out of control, so it’s often a good idea to require group dates only.
Communicating with your teen is often about as easy as having a conversation with an angry lion. Teens are quick to jump to the defense, get angry, or argue as soon as you start talking. The key is to keep trying anyways. The more you talk to your teen, the more willing they will be to really communicate with you. Once they start dating, it’s extremely important that they feel they can come to you with questions and concerns.
Communicating with your teen also means getting to know them better. Just by listening to what is and isn’t being said, you can learn a lot about your teen, their friends, and who they are dating. Remember that the more you declare something “off limits” the more your teen will want to do it. Rather than telling your teen what they can’t do, tell them what they can. By keeping things in the positive, you are less likely to be met with rebuttals and angry outbursts.
When it comes to talking about sex in particular, you need to make it very clear to your teen why you do not want them engaging in sexual activity at such a young age. Instead of simply telling them that it’s wrong, describe in detail what the consequences are. Teens often lash out because they don’t understand everything clearly. Once the air is cleared of confusion, your teen should have a clearer understanding of all of the rules. All that’s left to do is hope that they remember everything you’ve said.