Help! I Don’t Like My Teen’s Date

Your 16-year-old daughter’s new boyfriend is sullen and disagreeable. What do you do? And when should a parent really become concerned about their teens’ romantic relationships?

Dr. Christopher Min, a pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s who specializes in issues relating to adolescent development and treatment, says parents need to reflect before acting.

He recommends parents ask themselves some questions: What is it that I don’t like about this boy? Is this a case where no one is good enough for my daughter or I want her to have the “perfect” boyfriend? Or, is this something really worrisome like he’s a drug user?

“If it’s something that is really severe, and the parents conclude there is something wrong with that child, prepare your child first,” Dr. Min says. “Tell her, ‘This is what I see and I don’t like.’ Perhaps talk to your child about it and tell her that maybe it’s not the best time for this relationship. Try to discourage the relationship.”

Dr. Min offered the following tips for handling teens’ love lives:

  • Once you notice your teen is interested in romance, discuss –your family’s standards, beliefs, expectations and values with regard to dating and sexual activity.
  • Be honest with teens about their relationships and the people they are dating.
  • Seek help from mentors or other parents with older kids who have experienced these situations. Develop a support network of other parents for advice.
  • No one knows a child better than his or her parents, so trust your instincts about your child, especially if you notice a significant change of mood.
  • Give your teen the opportunity to share. Ask open-ended questions and listen. If they don’t want to talk when you approach them, give them some time and leave the door open for future discussions should your teen change his/her mind.
  • If you see signs of injury or abuse in your teen, or if he or she talks about hurting herself or taking his own life, seek immediate medical/psychiatric help at your closest emergency room or call 911.

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