I was nervous when my teenagers started dating. I learned to set simple expectations and allow room for mistakes.

    Rebecca Hastings (not pictured) is the mom of three teenagers.

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    I asked other parents for advice about what to do when teenagers start dating. As a mom of three teens, I wanted some help getting through this phase.I learned to set simple expectations and allow room for mistakes.

    People give advice about a lot of things when you have kids: potty training, discipline, and even what they eat. All this gets us through until we enter the teen years. Then, parents are left in a no-man’s land with only a few memes to survive. Somehow, we are supposed to know what to do when our kids start dating.

    I had three kids in three and a half years, and now that they’re all teens, we are in the thick of teen dating. Instead of simply gritting my teeth and white-knuckling my way through, I wanted to figure it out with a little more grace. To do so, I needed help, so I asked people further along in their parenting journey for help. The advice I got was priceless.

    Start by loving the people your kids love

    The idea of loving the people your kids love may sound obvious, especially with their friendships. It becomes even more important when your kids start dating. One of the best things you can do is to show interest in learning about the people your teens are dating.

    Ask questions about what they’re like and what they’re interested in. But here’s the secret to making it sound less like an interrogation: don’t ask a bunch of questions at once, stay casual, and smile through it all.

    One day, when I was struggling with my oldest daughter’s first serious relationship, a friend told me, “Invite the boyfriend.” She said it’s that simple. Include your teen’s partner in as much as you can. Welcome them for dinner. Bring them to the movie. Include them in family outings, and make them feel welcome and loved. Doing this shows your teen how much you love them and helps you get to know the person your teen is dating.

    Rebecca Hastings asked other parents for advice about teens and dating.

    Courtesy Rebecca Hastings

    Be clear about expectations and keep them simple

    There is no set of rules that works for every family, especially when it comes to dating. As I navigate this season, I’m learning to be as clear and loving about expectations as possible. The more I talk to my kids with respect and offer simple boundaries, the smoother things tend to go.

    When my oldest started dating, I had no idea what to do. Instead of making a complex set of rules, I thought about what was most important to me — communication and respect — and focused on that. The rules themselves are simple: You go where you say you’ll go, you’re home when you say you’ll be home. We talk about these things ahead of time and agree to them so both know what is expected.

    Make room for mistakes

    This was the piece of advice I was least prepared for. I thought it would be as simple as setting expectations that everyone would follow. The reality is, however, that we will all make mistakes — even parents.

    When one of my kids lied about their plans, I was blindsided. My husband and I addressed it with them. Instead of the conversation going smoothly, tempers flared and I didn’t handle it well. After we cooled off, I realized my reaction made the situation worse. I didn’t sweep my behavior under the rug; instead, I apologized and reopened the conversation. It wasn’t easy, but we worked things through.

    Dating is not simply a time for kids to break away from their parents. Just like those younger years, it is an opportunity for parents to guide and model how to handle situations. When we make room for mistakes and show how to work through them, we teach our kids how to do the same. There will likely be some disagreements when your teens are dating, but with good communication, you can get to the other side together.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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