Dating isn’t how it was 30 years ago. We can attribute this to the rise in social media usage among teens and the advent of dating apps. It’s now very easy for our young ones to connect with people, even strangers, which can be quite risky. However, dating comes with all the thrill and excitement that we felt in our days, which our teens now feel.
If you’re like most parents, you may be a little anxious when you discover your teen child is about to go out on their first date. You know the risks, uncertainties, and heartbreaks associated with relationships. You want the best for your child, and you may not desire them to go through all that. But the last thing you want to tell your teen is, “No, don’t date!”
You see, liking someone and knowing they like you back and are willing to spend quality time with you can be meaningful and positive for anyone. It’s the same way for your teen. Dating can also introduce the child into the world of intimacy, all while still being in a safety net — under your roof.
With the right approach, you can create a suitable environment where your teen can safely venture into and explore the world of dating.
So, what should you say to your teen when they’re going on their first date?
Your teen wouldn’t listen to you if they didn’t feel that trust and bond. So before giving any word of advice, it’s best to build a connection with your child that makes them feel safe when discussing intimate topics — like a first date — with you.
Rather than avoid difficult conversations like sex, this is a time to bring them up again. Remind your teen of what risks they may face and how to stay safe. Discuss sexual assault and teen dating violence and signs they should watch out for. They need to know that relationships aren’t entirely risk-free, regardless of how nice their partner may seem.
Even when you’ve discussed all these months or years ago, it’s great to revisit them right before your teen goes out on their first date.
You want to be as informed as possible about where your teen will be during their first date. Ask about the specific address, time, and when they expect to return home. Although parental control apps can help you track your child, batteries or signal may die, and you’d be left in the dark. So it’s always great to ask.
Knowing where your child will be can help put your mind at ease.
To help your teen feel safer on their first date, encourage them to have a friend present or not too far away from the date location. The best time for a teen’s first date is lunchtime rather than evenings.
It’s important to teach your teen about consent once you’ve finally decided it’s okay for them to date. Consent in this sense involves every form of physical intimacy, whether sex or not.
Research suggests that teens have a limited understanding of what consent actually means regarding physical intimacy. Most of them think it ends with a Yes or No. But it’s actually more than that.
To explain consent and intimacy to your teen, liken it to the cup of tea model. When you ask someone if they want tea, they may say yes. But before the water boils or even after you’ve made the tea, they can change their mind. You’ve gone through some trouble making the tea, but that doesn’t make the other person obligated to drink it. So you shouldn’t get angry or force them to do so.
And when they say, “Hmm, I’m not really sure,” you shouldn’t try to convince them about why they should have tea.
It’s the same with sex. Even when you discuss sex while chatting, that doesn’t mean both parties want to have it on the first date. Whether your child is male or female, you really want them to understand this.
You want to know considerable details about your teen’s date, how they met, and whatever may be on your child’s mind before going out. You also want to tell them a lot.
But to break the ice, you need some conversation starters. Then drive according to where the conversation leads, and chip in whatever suggestions or tips you have.
You may even ask them about their favourite romance story or movie, and then ensure you tell them about how they should never expect all of that in real life. You don’t want your teen wishing for a dream first date that they may never get to experience, causing them utter disappointment.
Your teen may find themselves in an uncomfortable situation on their first date. They may not be able to directly call you for help or rush out of the place. Let them know you’d be right there for them if they send you a signal, such as an “I love you” text.
After all the advice and tips, encourage your teen to have fun. For without that, what’s the essence?
If you’re a teen reading this, here are some brilliant tips to keep you safe on your first date:
Keep your parents in the loop — they’re your first and best guardians, so let them be in the know as that’s the only way they can offer help when needed.
Have a group date for your first date — with many people around, you’ll generally feel safer.
Meet in a public place — rather than meet your date in a big house with no one else at home, a restaurant or park is safer for your first date.
Don’t sext — sexting can be fun, especially when you’re still disinclined to sex. But the online space is scary now more than ever, and intimate messages can be leaked at any time. Think about the embarrassment and disrepute it will bring.
Reach out for help when you need it — remember that you’re still under your parent’s care. If you’re uncomfortable, phone them or call out to the nearest person who can help you.
If you feel like you need a neutral adult to listen and coach you through some teenage challenges or struggles, send us an email at email@example.com to arrange a FREE consultation with our Teen Coach.