Talking about relationships with children can probably be called the most difficult. Here you need to find an approach, and do not forget about the educational part, and do without edification, and provide support. How to do it right, so as not to slide into the typical “Yes, you will have a million more Sashas like that”?
A few useful rules will help build a not always convenient, but very necessary conversation.
Rule #1: Don’t discount
It happens that a child comes up to mom or dad and joyfully reports that he has fallen in love. Or sadly reports that he broke up with Katya. Some parents just chuckle: “Well, what kind of love at that age?” or “I found why nurses dissolve!”
Such devaluation literally forms a hole in relationships with relatives, which often cannot be patched up either with apologies or time. It is important to understand that romantic relationships in adolescence and even preteens are the norm. And you can fall in love even if you first went to kindergarten. Ridicule, just like ignoring, is simply unacceptable if you don’t want the child to shut up forever and stop sharing quivering and important things.
Rule #2: Share your own experience
A great way to show your child your support and understanding is to share your personal experience of romantic love. These can be conversations on any occasion: if the son or daughter does not know where to go on a date, what to give their soul mate for Valentine’s Day, or if the child experiences the first painful break.
Do you want your child to consult with you and not be shy about a delicate topic? Get active first. This will not only strengthen trusting relationships with a teenager, but also push him to new thoughts, ideas, plans. Watch a romantic movie together? Ask the teenager sitting next to her if she would slap this guy in the place of the main character or how he would get out of an unpleasant situation in that episode. Discussing the plot, experiences and behavior of the characters is a great plan to build mutual understanding!
Rule #3: Recommend Topical Books
Sometimes adults don’t have answers to teen questions about love. Perhaps they are at a loss with them, because they themselves have not had a specific similar experience. And it also happens that a child cannot be completely frank with mom or dad — because of shyness or inability to formulate a request. In this case, the parent may well recommend books about teenage love and the resolution of various romantic conflicts.
Many modern publications for teenagers are suitable for this purpose. They will delicately show the teenager a variety of manifestations of love, teach some behavioral techniques, or simply help him realize that he is not alone. These books can be:
- “Goalkeeper and the Sea”, Maria Parr;
- “Tales of Franz and Love”, Christine Nöstlinger;
- “Only eleven, or Shura-mura in the fifth“ D ”, Victoria Lederman;
- “Pollyanna”, Eleanor Porter;
- Dubravka, Radiy Pogodin;
- Tzatziki and Love by Moni Nielson.
In bookstores, there are many books for a teenage audience — for every taste and budget. Give the choice of such literature to the child himself or together choose publications that are interesting for him about love and feelings.
Rule #4: Don’t criticize
“He doesn’t deserve you!”, “Some ugly…”, “Oh, her ears are sticking out.” Remember that criticizing your child’s romantic interest is not the best thing to do if you don’t want to lose precious trust. Even if you really don’t like the chosen one of a teenager, you don’t need to talk about it — you shouldn’t like this person at all.
On the contrary, ask your son (daughter) what attracted him (her) in another person and aroused romantic feelings. Believe me, this way you can learn a lot of interesting and amazing things!
Rule #5: Talk about boundaries
In a conversation about relationships with a child, it is very important to discuss the topic of personal boundaries and various kinds of “forbidden”. And this is not at all about how to give the child condoms and remind about protection (although this is sometimes necessary).
Make sure your teen understands what “privacy” means. Remind that no one has the right to touch another person without permission and that the relationship should be consensual and sympathetic. It is good to touch upon the topic of equality, trust, security in a conversation. Healthy romantic relationships are relationships built on support and mutual respect.
Here it is also useful to talk about the boundaries of what is permitted in the everyday context. After all, a teenager is a person dependent on his parents, so he must understand that relationships do not automatically make him an adult. He still has to have a set of rules that he must abide by. Formulate them together. For example, that it is still important to come home no later than 22:00, not to stay overnight with your soul mate, not to go on dates to suspicious places. Invite the children home — so you can get to know a new friend or girlfriend better and diversify the leisure time of young people with delicious pies with tea.
Rule #6: Don’t give advice without asking
Parental advice about relationships is not always “on topic”. This is because a teenager may perceive them not as recommendations, but as criticism, edification, condemnation or ridicule. Or he just already knows what is important to him now.
Do you want to give real-life advice that once helped you in love? First, ask the child if this can be done, if he wants to ask you about this or that. And do not forget to mention that this advice is not a direct guide to action, but just a solution. But once he helped you a lot to get out of a similar situation.
Rule #7: Don’t Dramatize Your Breakups
First love, first breakup, first tears… However, even if a teenager’s love is not the first, there is no need to dramatize about this either. No tragic lamentations!
Some parents believe that in this way they share the children’s sadness, providing the child with a kind of support. Like, I understand how you feel, I’m just as sad, empty and bitter. First love — and such an experience!
You don’t need to do that. Describing your own horror and despair, you do not help the child to get out of this whirlpool, but only keep him company in experiencing these feelings, as if doubling them. It would be wiser to express sympathy and understanding and ask what would be support for a sad child now.
Breaking up is a really painful stage for a teenager, often it makes you doubt yourself. The best option in this situation is to help a person to speak their emotions or write them on paper. Offer various leisure options, share your experience of parting, watch a sad movie together, give simple instructions that will load your head and hands. All this, of course, without undue pressure.
Rule #8: Warn about unhealthy relationships
Another important rule of talking with your child about relationships is to warn them that sometimes they are unhealthy.
Respect for your soul mate, for its values and personal boundaries is the basis of love. But sometimes you can notice alarm bells that warn: stay away from this person. The list of such calls includes: cruel behavior (not only with the chosen one, but also with animals, friends, relatives), insults, condemnation, suggestion of guilt, invasion of personal boundaries (both physical and moral — jealousy, control, surveillance and etc.).
It’s never too early to talk to your child about relationships. And the more confidential such conversations, the better. They not only help develop empathy, emotional intelligence, but also allow you to comprehend different forms of love (for example, making cocoa together, mutual support, finding compromises, hugs, walking in a beautiful park, or a note with nice words).