The day you've dreaded for years has finally arrived: your teenage daughter has enthusiastically proclaimed at the dinner table that she has a boyfriend. Your first reaction might be to panic and lock your daughter in her bedroom, but a more realistic approach is to talk to your daughter about relationships, including sex and how to handle her first broken heart.
Establish Dating Rules
Sit your teenager down and begin a dialogue about your expectations. Inform your teen you expect to meet her boyfriend and his parents, and establish a few ground rules. Let your teen know that in order to head out on a date she must tell you where she is going, who else will be there and a phone number where she can be reached if she doesn't have a cellular phone. If the teenager is unwilling to abide by your dating rules, let her know this is punishable with loss of privileges, including limited access to a car or cellular phone. Continue to speak to your teen about her relationship, including any misgivings about the person she's dating. Try to remain non-judgmental and let your teen know you're always there to speak about her relationship and offer advice.
Discussing Sex and Dating
However uncomfortable, it's important to sit your teenage daughter down and have an open, honest and frank discussion about intimacy, relationships and sex. The Mayo Clinic recommends treating sex education as an ongoing conversation rather than a one-time discussion. Look for ideal moments to discuss sex and intimacy with your teenager. The next time you're watching a television show depicting dating and relationships, ask your teen's opinion on how love and intimacy are portrayed. The Mayo Clinic reminds parents that providing accurate information on sex is important, but it's also crucial to discuss the feelings and emotions that accompany beginning a sexual relationship.
Share Your Past Dating Experiences
Use your past experiences with dating as cautionary tales for your teen. When your teen comes to you with a dating issue or question, use experiences from your past as an example. If your teenage daughter's boyfriend is sending her mixed signals, relay a similar story about a boyfriend flirting with other girls or sending you similarly confusing signs. Laughing about your shared dating experiences ultimately helps you bond, which in turn hopefully encourages your teen to come to you again in the future.
Handling a Break-Up
It's an unfortunate inevitability that your daughter's first experience in teenage love will eventually end, and there's a chance the break-up won't be mutual or amiable. If this is the case, lend her a shoulder to cry on while you help her learn a valuable lesson from the experience. Talk with your teenager about the break-up, but also remember to respect her personal space and walk away if she's unwilling to open up. If the break-up negatively affects your teen's self-esteem, help rebuild her self-image by treating her to a day at the spa, some new clothing or a new hair cut.