Teen Issues... love and dating

As a parent, the thought of my children starting to date makes me sick to my stomach even though it is hopefully more than 14 years away. This is the same reaction that most parents have no matter how old their children are.

I get a lot of questions about teens and dating. In particular, how to help get through an especially clingy relationship or bad break-up. One of the things that I like to stress is that parental support is very important even though your teen will likely say that they are fine without your involvement. Continue to offer support and stress that you will always be there to help out or to be someone to vent to.

Below are a couple articles and resources to help out:
     This is a free service from the St Louis Children's Hospital. The counselor that answers the phone is trained and experienced with children at this age. They are open during normal business hours.

Boys Town National Hotline 1-800-448-3000
     The Boys Town National Hotline has been around for decades. They offer 24 hour help on all kinds of topics from difficult relationships, drugs, sex, suicide or school troubles. For some reason when I was a teen I associated Boys Town only with "the worst of the worst" or runaways. However, since college I have met many people my age that say that the Boys Town Hotline saved their life. Furthermore, many parents have told me that after they contacted the Boys Town Hotline they were able to make changes in their relationship with their teens that "saved them" as well. Give them a call any time of the day or night.

When to Let Your Teenage Date
     16 for solo dating is perfectly fine and reasonable. Setting a rule about dating early on and sticking with it will also help with other rules about dating. For example, when you start to date you must 1) tell parents where you are going 2) who are you going with 3) What time are you going to be back 4) Promise to not get in the car with anyone who is drinking or using drugs 5) Call immediately if trouble for a rescue, etc.

So Your Teen is in Love
    "Love" does not have to be another 4 letter word in the house

Aaron Traeger MD
Aaron R Traeger MD FAAP Pediatrics Pediatrician Bloomington Normal Illinois