Parenting Prep: 5 Crucial Red Flags to Cover Before Your Teen Starts Dating
Dating can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience for teens. As parents, it is important to help your teen navigate the dating world safely.
To ensure your teen’s preparation for the potential risks associated with dating, discussing specific topics before they start dating is essential.
Compared to many older individuals, teenagers who are relatively new to romantic relationships may need a well-defined sense of their boundaries or what behaviors they should tolerate from their significant other.
Jillian Amodio, founder of Moms For Mental Health, states that relationships can have various warning signs. These indicators are crucial, although they do not necessarily imply that the relationship is bound to fail.
Dating violence is more common than people think, especially among teens & young adults.
That’s why we're participating in Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a national effort focused on empowerment to stop dating abuse before it starts. pic.twitter.com/Aa35A7RFQc
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She mentions that some of the typical red flags include behaviors such as love bombing, abuse, obsession, jealousy, pressure, dishonesty, and manipulation.
This article will outline the red flags you must discuss with your teen before they start dating.
Amodio states that although “love bombing” has recently gained popularity as a buzzword, it is a common component of abusive behavior patterns.
She emphasizes that a relationship exhibiting extreme highs and lows indicates a negative pattern to avoid.
While occasional fluctuations in mood are normal, stability, predictability, and mutual respect should generally characterize relationships.
The initial infatuation stage may seem charming, particularly when coupled with the classic fluttery feeling, but it can escalate into an unhealthy fixation if left unregulated.
Amodio explains, “Obsession is often cleverly disguised as deep love and flattery, but if it feels too much, it probably is.”
Teenagers who undergo this may perceive that someone is monitoring them. They could also observe that their significant other appears present wherever they go.
Obsessive tendencies can also manifest in communication and resemble frequent phone calls or messages.
She continues, “Relationships should be built on trust, and each partner should feel like they have the freedom to exist as an individual.”
If you see a person exhibiting obsessive conduct, even if it is your child, it could indicate that they cannot pull back from their fixation and honor boundaries.
According to Amodio, no one should overlook signs of immaturity, such as jealousy, as potential red flags.
Although clear communication and growth may help manage such behavior. Jealousy can quickly escalate into a significant issue if left unchecked.
She emphasizes that mutual trust and respect are fundamental pillars of a healthy relationship. Both individuals should always maintain these.
Being pressured to do what they don’t want to
No individual should ever feel coerced into any activity that causes discomfort, which is crucial in romantic relationships.
Amodio clarifies that this encompasses a wide range of actions. It entails hand-holding and kissing to expressing love and engaging in sexual activity.
It could also be visiting someone’s home, attending parties, or engaging in dangerous conduct, such as drug and alcohol use.
Remind your teen, “It is your right to say no to whatever makes you feel uncomfortable. Your opinion should be respected without any pushback.
She added, “Your partner should never try to coerce, shame, force, pressure, or convince you to do what you are not ready for, don’t like, or make you uncomfortable.”
She also adds that teens should remember that their answers can change. “If you agree to do something once, twice, or a thousand times and then decide not to do it anymore, you have every right to change your mind.”
Preventing them from having their interests
Relationships that promote individual pursuits, interests, and objectives are healthy. A lack of encouragement for personal growth is a significant warning sign in teenage relationships.
“Your teen shouldn’t feel discouraged from pursuing their dreams (such as going to a different school than their partner’s), interests, or hobbies, just because their partner does not like them or does not want them to.”
What to do if you observe worrying signs in your teen
The first thing to know is that there is no need to panic. Associate marriage and family therapist Melissa Hannan explains, “They must know that you’ll be a safe, supportive refuge when they’re ready to confide in you and seek help.”
“If they don’t trust that you can do this for them, it could make them feel like their only option is to try to fix their problems independently, leading to worse and worse decisions.”
To offer assistance, you must refrain from shaming them. Instead, reassure your adolescent that you will not judge, reprimand, or penalize them. Especially if they confide in you about any missteps in their relationship.
“An abusive partner will tend to push your teen’s boundaries and eventually get them to engage in questionable activities they won’t want to tell you about.”
“This gives power to the abuser. The antidote is a teen believing that their parents will prioritize their emotional and mental well-being over the specific actions they might have engaged in,” Hannan explained.
When to get help
As an expert in trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, Hannan uniquely understands when parents and caregivers should seek professional assistance.
She advises, “Seek professional help from a therapist specializing in trauma and abusive relationships if you notice a significant change in your teen’s behavior sustained for over a few weeks.”
“One thing parents can do is to learn about healthy relational boundaries. I highly recommend the book ‘Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself’ by Nedra Glover Tawwab,” she said.
She also added that adults should acquire and educate themselves and their teenagers. Both should establish and maintain healthy relationships and boundaries.