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Supporting your teenage daughter through the dating experience

Teenage dating can cause a great deal of stress for parents. When your daughter begins dating, there are many things to worry about. As a result, parents tend to overlook the numerous opportunities they have for helping their daughter through this exciting time, as well as encouraging her to build healthy relationships.

Nothing will be as important as the relations your daughter establishes throughout her life. The dating experience will open up a whole new world for her, as well as for you. This article offers advice for parents looking to help their daughters navigate the ups and downs that come with the dating experience.


Do

Do encourage boundaries and limits

If your daughter begins dating prior to getting her driver’s license, always offer to pick her up or drive her and her boyfriend. Driving them will provide you with the opportunity to help her set limits. You can help her set boundaries regarding time spent with her boyfriend on the weekend or during the week. It also allows you to be in the car, listening and engaging them both in conversation.

Do help your daughter find balance

If you feel her relationship is going too far, talk to your daughter alone. If that doesn’t solve the problem, talk to both of them together. They will see that you are trying to help them find balance, which is something that all children through the age of 17 need when they begin a relationship. Engaged parents have a much easier time talking to their daughters alone because girls worry about embarrassing themselves or their date. Parents, especially mothers, tend to have better luck when they act behind the scene until daughters ask them to help openly.

Do educate your daughter about sex

Your daughter needs to talk to you about ways to keep her body healthy. Her sexual body is an important part to remember. Talking about birth control, menstrual cycles and her breast changes should all be discussed and embraced well before she is dating. When your daughter’s body begins to change, this is a perfect time to sit down and have several talks about her health. When she was younger, you were able to teach her all sorts of things, so don’t shy away from teaching her about the ins and outs of sex now.

Do emphasize the importance of confidence

You must raise a woman to feel confident about her body and her relationships. Parents do this best by educating their daughters and being supportive of their overall health. Remember that this should be a rite of passage and not something your daughter dreads.


Don't

Do not forget to stress the necessity of maintaining friendships

Encourage your daughter to set time aside to keep up with her other relationships. There is a 99 percent chance that this relationship will end, and the friendship of others will help your daughter bounce back from this experience.

Do not overlook the need to offer guidance and share feelings

Remember to be a mom and dad—and listen. Talk to her about her feelings and emotions for the boy she is dating. Relationships at a young age can go from zero to 60 in 10 minutes. She will need your support when it comes to understanding how love feels, as well as your experience and your guidance. Reassure her that she will feel this way about many boys as she grows older.

Do not belittle or lecture

Don’t ever belittle your daughter or make fun of her affection for a particular boy. She is learning what sort of a boy she is attracted to, as well as how her behavior affects the way a boy treats her. When she does something especially thoughtful or kind, be sure to tell her how you would feel about someone doing something that considerate for you. When she shows good judgment and responsibility, compliment her. This will go much further than scolding or lecturing her when she does not make good choices.

Do not be a friend

Moms and dads are not their daughter’s friends. They have a much more honorable job. They must be their daughter’s mentors, guides and support system. How you handle the challenges of dating and relationships will secure your position as the individual your daughter will confide in with her worries, challenges and love.


Summary
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The dating experience is full of joy and heartbreak. It is vital to be supportive and encouraging, while also setting boundaries and limits. Remember to help educate your daughter about her body and health, and advocate healthy relationships and positive learning experiences.


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Mary Jo Rapini LPCLicensed Professional Counselor

Mary Jo Rapini is a licensed certified intimacy/sex relationship psychotherapist in private practice. Mary Jo serves as an intimacy/sex therapist for hospitals and clinics and evaluates patients for bariatric surgery in the Houston area. She wa...

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