Parenting a teen can be a non-stop series of challenges. You feel as if you don’t know what to wish for. Take dating, for example. Of course, you want your child to experience deep personal relationships. But the worrisome realities are real.
Noting that February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, you may fear your teen entering into a toxic relationship. How can you monitor such interactions without pushing them away? No emerging adult wants a parent butting in. However, at the same time, your teen is not likely to admit they’re in trouble. It’s essential that you learn to recognize the following signs:
Your child says they’ve fallen in love. But what exactly how they have fallen for (or into)? Everything is new for them. This makes you want to warn them about all the stuff you learned the hard way. It will also make you want to step back and allow them to be fully present with every new emotion and experience. As you juggle these two instincts, your mind may be filled with concerns about:
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual coercion
- Easy access to internet porn
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Accidental pregnancy
- Painful break-ups
All of these are valid fears and there are many more to consider. It’s a tricky balance. You want them to feel supported. You don’t want them to feel like they are being policed. Your child needs you to offer them some space to explore and learn. However, giving them space is not the same as remaining aloof. Keep an eye out for signs that teen love may have turned into toxic teen love.
7 Ways to Know if Your Teen Needs Help
1. The Presence of Jealousy and Possessiveness
It could be your teen. It could be their partner. Either way: overt jealousy and possessiveness is a red flag.
2. Fixation on Exercise, Diet, and Body Image
Does your teen suddenly obsess or feel upset about the way they look? They may be getting pressured to be thinner or more fit or “hotter.”
3. Your Teen “Re-Invents” Their Habits and Styles
Kids grow in and out of hobbies and interests. But dramatic shifts upon entering into a relationship could signal manipulation at play. This is especially concerning when your child stops doing something you know they love.
4. Unexplained Injuries
Bruises, burns, cuts, scrapes, and more — none of these can be ignored. You may feel like you’re jumping to conclusions but this is one area where you must play it safe.
5. Things Are Moving Too Quickly
Of course, “quickly” is in the eye of the beholder. That said, a teenager is more likely to a sense of perspective upon experiencing their first taste of love.
6. Your Teen Isolates and Withdraws With Their Partner
Either your child or their partner may be setting up an “us against the world” mentality. In particular, teenage boys may be prone to keep their girlfriends away from other people.
7. You Haven’t Met Their Partner
You have every right to ask to meet the target of your teen’s affection. If this request is repeatedly shut down, it’s time for a serious talk with your child.
Learning a New Language
Helping your teen navigate their first forays into dating is like learning a new language. It’s a challenge and you may need some guidance. You may wish to talk with a counselor on your own. Perhaps, you may ask your teen to try therapy with you together.
Either way, there is no shame in asking for support. You want the best for your child and your weekly sessions will help you deliver on that pledge. Please read more about teen counseling. Let’s set up a consultation soon to discuss these options.
Getting Started With Teen Counseling in Lakewood & Longmont Colorado
We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation. You can schedule your appointment via phone, email, or the contact page on our website. We offer both in-person and online counseling. We’re open to whichever option you feel more comfortable with. We look forward to hearing from you!