Your child has been showing interest in someone lately, they blush when talking about them and if they are close enough to you they have been asking random questions about the things boys or girls like.
Finally, they tell you that they have a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Were you ready for this? Do you know what to say or do to make this experience a good one for your child? It is possible you are not very amused at hearing this news, because you feel it was too soon or you don’t approve of their choice.
Here are some dos and don’ts that can act as a guide to a healthy relationship with your child in this new exciting phase of their life – having their first boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Do understand that it is okay for them to start earlier than you expected.
You may still be seeing a baby in your growing child so it may surprise you to hear them talk of their first girlfriend or boyfriend but do understand this: the world is fast-paced today than it was yesterday. Children are developing faster too, generally, they learn so much earlier so your ‘baby’ is probably ready to step into the dating arena as well.
- Do show a healthy kind of interest
At least get to know the girlfriend or boyfriend, ask about the kind of person they are and if possible meet with them. They will give you hints if you are overstepping but the basic getting to know them not only makes you more at ease as it eliminates the mystery of who your child is associating with but is also important for them not to feel like they are doing something wrong.
- Do teach them how to be safe
You want your child to have happy experiences but to be safe from all kinds of heartbreaks and other traps that they may fall into all in the name of love. Share with them from your own experiences what you learned and give them a balanced perspective on love and sex. Eliminate the risk of them blindly leading each other into a ditch while trying to figure everything out themselves.
- Do take it easy, it is a relationship, not marriage
Do not get too serious about their relationship, let your child find their foot in the relationship but be ready to support them if the relationship ends.
- Do teach them self-love
Make sure your child values themselves before they value the next person, this will shield them from being influenced into indulging in activities they aren’t sure about or ready for. Very early in their lives, teach them self-love and boost their confidence at all times and they will be sure to know how to boldly say no to people including their girlfriend or boyfriend when they start dating.
- Hear what their purpose of dating is
It helps to teach them the purpose of love and relationships early but when they eventually get into it, hear what they have to say. This will be a mixture of what you taught them and their thinking. Freely allow them to express themselves and gently correct them where they miss it.
- Do let them know that they can talk to you about anything
They may reject your extended hand first as they regard you as old-fashioned or too rigid, but them knowing you are always available to hear them out and advise them will make all the difference should they encounter problems they don’t know how to solve.
- Don’t be too excited
Please don’t start calling your child’s date your daughter or son in law or any such forward-suggesting titles as this may put a heavy burden on their young love. Accepting and approving their relationship is good enough. Being overly excited about the relationship will also make it hard for them to tell you in case it doesn’t work out. Plus you have to make sure your child continues to have a balanced life that does not revolve entirely around their dating.
- Do not be overly-suspicious
As your child grows, he or she may want to keep some stuff secret like where they hang out with their friends and partners. Continue to encourage them not to get into trouble but do not be too suspicious about what they do because once they sense that, they conclude you mistrust them. Young people who feel they are mistrusted usually become distant with that particular parent or worse still end up giving up on doing good.
- Don’t embarrass them
This is a sensitive time for your child’s ego so for starters you might want to stop calling them pet names they have outgrown unless of course, they like them. If they ask you to stop calling them baby, cutie, dolly, or whatever sweet name you had for them it means they feel they have outgrown it. Do them the favor of dropping it. Listen to them and their body language and do stop doing things that embarrass them.
Above all these, listen to your child and they are sure to guide you into their customized dos and don’ts. Be a step ahead all the time so that while your child is still a baby, you are thinking about how you will handle them as a toddler. Years before they become a teenager ask yourself crucial questions about the kind of teen you want to raise and how you can do that. Let nothing find you unaware. Prepare, imagine, and prepare some more.