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Plus, find additional tips on how to get your teen to open up in conversation.Parents should keep in mind that these tips are for in-person relationships.Teen support centers can also be a helpful resource.When divorce happens and there are children involved, there are a number of hurdles to jump over: the announcement, the reassurances, the custody decisions.For example, she says, a 9-year-old who says she’s “dating” a boy at school might just mean that she waves to him on the playground at recess.Instead of overwhelming your child with information, start with an open-ended question like, “What does dating mean to you? Asking questions also makes the talk a dialogue instead of a lecture.“It is important for the parent to meet the child at that moment where they are.” If your teen is seriously struggling with a breakup or a case of unrequited love, know when it’s time to seek professional help.Depression is common among teens and can be serious, so consult a psychologist who specializes in adolescents if you feel your teen may need additional support.
Parents should be prepared to be empathetic and help their teen work through their emotions, keeping in mind that they might not get all the details on what happened.A discussion on dating is also the time to explain your expectations, including curfews and rules such as knowing who your teen is with and where they’ll be at all times.Despite their resistance, Johnsen says she has found in her years of working with teenagers that they do need – and often want – boundaries from their parents.“It’s very difficult to make decisions on your feet when the situation presents itself,” she says.Parents can help their teenagers define boundaries for themselves and offer ideas to help implement them, such as a code word to text to a parent if the teen wants to be picked up or wants a phone call telling them to come home, Johnsen says.
Online dating is increasingly common among teens, experts say, and presents issues and dangers of its own – get more information here.