Being parents to a baby is one thing. But, being parents of a teenager is a different ballgame altogether! Why? This is because the relationship you share with your child will undergo a sea change. Gone will be the days when your child would come running to you for every little thing. Your teen will now seek individual space and rebel at the smallest dos and don’ts from you. All this makes it difficult for parents to communicate effectively with their child.
In the midst of all this, what if you discover that your teenage daughter has a boyfriend?! How will you handle it? Parents often resort to punishments or harshness to deal with such situations. This reaction stems from a sense of betrayal on the parents’ behalf. They feel their daughter betrayed their upbringing, values, etc., by falling in love (read: infatuation) behind their backs!
To begin with, let go of this false pride and ego. It’s pretty natural for your daughter to get infatuated at this age due to her changing hormones and growing sexuality. What? Yes, sexuality. Because she is human. Try remembering your own teen self and you’ll understand what we mean. And don’t jump at the ‘S’ word. It’s probably not even there on your daughter’s mind. For all you know, she’ll be thinking of rainbows, roses, and romance. But aren’t most relationships based on love, the emotion, first?
Despite all the rebellion, your daughter still needs your guidance in the matters of the heart. Because if you don’t, she might find the wrong guide. Or worse, tread a dangerous path driven by peer pressure. Therefore, its imperative for parents to approach their child first. Parents often find it tricky while talking to their teenage daughter about sexuality and relationships. When you eventually get down to talking about it, make sure you take a sensitive approach to it. Don’t reprimand or take a serious tone. Instead of delving on the ‘S’ word, try to sensitize your daughter about the romantic relationships as compared to friendships she had forged over the years. Make her aware of certain limitations that she needs to keep in her relationship in order to retain her sense of dignity and respect.
Teach your daughter the importance of a ‘No’ in such relationships. If she’s asked to do something which does not feel right or makes her uncomfortable, she should have the courage to refuse. Reassure her that you, as parents, will always be there to support her stance.
Once you start the discussion, quite understandably, your daughter might have a lot of questions too. Be very patient with her. Try and understand where her doubts are stemming from – is it peer pressure? Did she get those ideas from an unreliable source? Is she emulating someone within the family?
But what if your daughter has no questions at all? Then don’t panic. It could be that this entire conversation itself might be awkward for her, as it might be for you. But be glad that you’ve broken the ice. At least, next time around your daughter would be at ease if she faces any difficulty in her relationship.
Whether it’s your daughter’s first crush or third, do not try to convince her to give up the relationship. You’ll only end up making her cling on to it for longer. Don’t talk only about the relationship when you are having ‘the talk.’ Do discuss things like her studies, friends, and even a recent movie she watched with her gang. Such lighthearted talk takes the heat away from the moment.
As a toddler, your daughter would have had immense faith in you. But as a teen, you’ll need to win over your daughter again. You don’t have to be her parent all the time – become her best buddy with whom she can share her personal issues without the fear of being judged. It is this fear that keeps teens from discussing their issues with their parents. So, reassure your daughter that she’ll not be judged no matter what and see her come running to you all over again!