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mother and daughter talking, illustrated text bubbles in between them Teen Dating

How to Talk to Your Teenager About Dating

The Bark Team  |  March 23, 2023

mother and daughter talking, illustrated text bubbles in between them

The first crush, the first kiss, the first partner—as a parent, it can be exciting to see your child starting to explore new relationships, but it can also be nerve-wracking. You want to make sure they're making safe and informed choices, and that's where learning how to talk to your teenager about dating comes in. 

While it’s never been easy to talk to your child about relationships—and it surely has gotten more complicated in the digital age—we’ve created this article as a reference to help you learn how to start the conversation, how to broach and discuss important topics and how to give your teen relationship advice that will help them find and establish healthy and fulfilling relationships.

1. Start with an Open Mind

Before you have the conversation with your teen, it's important to check your own biases and assumptions about dating. You might have your own ideas about what's appropriate or not, but it's important to remember that your teen is their own person, with their own thoughts and feelings. Be prepared to listen and learn from them, even if it challenges your own beliefs.

2. Create a Safe Space

The conversation about dating can be a vulnerable one for both you and your teen. Create a safe and supportive space for the conversation by choosing a time and place where you can both be relaxed and uninterrupted. It's also important to reassure your teen that they can be honest with you, and that you won't judge them or overreact.

3. Ask Questions

The best way to get your teen talking about their thoughts and feelings on dating is to ask open-ended questions. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • What does dating mean to you?
  • What do you think makes a good partner or a healthy relationship?
  • What are some things you're looking for in a relationship?
  • How do you think you'll know if someone is right for you?
  • What are you most worried about when it comes to relationships? 
  • What values and goals are you looking for in another partner?

4. Talk About Boundaries

One of the most important things you can do for your teen is to help them set healthy boundaries in their relationships. Talk to them about what they're comfortable with, and what they're not. This might include things like physical boundaries, like when it's okay to kiss or have sex, or emotional boundaries, like how much time they want to spend with their partner. Help your teen understand that it's okay to say "no" to something they're not comfortable with.

5. Discuss Safety

As a parent, your top priority is your teen's safety. Talk to your teen about the risks and dangers associated with dating, like sexual coercion, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and emotional or physical abuse. It's important to have an open and non-judgmental conversation about these topics, so your teen knows they can come to you if they're ever in a difficult or unsafe situation.

6. Set Rules and Expectations

While you want to encourage your teen's independence and autonomy, it's also important to set some rules and expectations around dating. This might include things like curfews, limits on how often they can see their partner or requirements around communication with you. Make sure these rules are clear and reasonable, and that your teen understands the consequences if they break them.

7. Offer Support

Finally, let your teen know that you're there for them, no matter what. Dating can be a tricky and emotional time, and your teen may need someone to talk to or lean on. Let them know that you're always available to listen, and that you're on their side. When it comes to breakups or difficult moments, try to reflect on your teenage relationships and what you wish your parents would’ve done to help or console you. 

Learning how to talk to your teenager about dating can be a daunting task, but it's also an important one. By approaching the conversation with an open mind, creating a safe space, asking questions, talking about boundaries and safety, setting rules and expectations, and offering support, you can help your teen navigate the complex world of dating with confidence and security. 

If you are looking for an added layer of security as your teen enters the dating world consider Bark’s monitoring technology. Bark can help you keep your teen safe online and in real life by monitoring their texts, emails and social media platforms for explicit sexual content. 

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

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