What Parents Need to Know About Teen Dating

Even when teens start dating, they are still not as close with romantic partners as they are with their same-sex friends. The security that teens feel in their friendships spills over into their romantic relationships. To add, parents influence those feelings of security. Dating too early is not right for both their physical and mental well being, but when teens enter late teens, dating can be a way to learn:

  • cooperation skills and sharing of activities,
  • socially appropriate behavior and manners,
  • interdependence and companionship,
  • compromise,
  • empathy and sensitivity, and
  • how to develop an intimate, meaningful relationship.

Although most adolescent romantic relationships do not last, warm and caring romantic relationships in the teen years tend to lead to satisfying, committed relationships in early adulthood.

The dark side of dating in the teen years is that it can put youth at risk. Frequent dating-or spending time with romantic partner(s) several times a week-in early adolescence, can lead to adolescent risk behaviors such as:

  • school failure,
  • drug use, and
  • delinquency

Other problems for preteens or early adolescents who date frequently and/or exclusively include:

  • having poor social skills that last through their later teenage years,
  • depression, or
  • sexual activity

Dating violence is also not impossible. Abusive family relationships, as well as frequent, early dating and/or sexual involvement  can encourage teens to abuse other people, thereby exposing others to be “hit, slapped, or pushed.”

The expectation for sexual relationships in teens, can partially be blamed on the media who socializes teens on dating and sexual behaviors.

Peers may influence a teen’s dating life, but parents and families should have the final say. Families can provide support for their teens or add stress to their lives.

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