Teenage and Dating – Support for Families through Cooperative Extension Programs for parents of teenagers

Dating in the teenage years is one of many ways to promote healthy development among teens. Programs serving youth and their families can promote a positive emphasis or resilience perspective on teen dating. However, the problems of dating in adolescents, should not be overlooked in extra curricula programming that serves teens.

There is a number of ways to promote positive youth development, especially in the younger teen years. Programs for parents of teens benefit from including teens in the program–in other words, promoting healthy parent-teen interaction. Ideally, parent-teen programs should focus on building parent-teen bonds, fostering communication, and bolstering parental monitoring and support of teens.

Inform teens of educational opportunities and responsibilities that prepare them for adulthood. When youth focus on their vocational and academic growth, they are less likely to turn to romantic relationships and risky behaviors to feel “grown up.” Developing these parent-teen relationship assets helps teens to build healthy relationships outside the family unit.

The relationship between parents or a parent and a romantic partner also sets an example for teens. Family programming should focus on strengthening relationships between parents and between parents and teens. Moreover, parents can be encouraged and motivated to set an example of healthy adult relationships for their teens.

Dating during adolescence poses both promise and problems. Understanding the impact of dating on early, middle, and late teen years can help parents in their communication with teens. Strengthening family communication benefits families in many ways, including promoting healthy, happy teens.

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