Summer Romance: How To Help Your Teen Cope
Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson
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Here’s what you already know about teenagers’ summer infatuations:
1. A new romance might be “the one” but it’s much more likely that feelings of affection will disappear once school starts – by mutual agreement or in a painful breakup… or in just a gradual drifting away. The bottom line is that this is probably not the time to start planning a wedding.
2. In fact, summer pairings might be much more casual, with date partners shuffling around within a larger social group every week or two.
3. Sometimes crushes are one-sided, with your teen pining after an unattainable heartthrob. This unrequited attraction might be unspoken so that you don’t even know about it, until you realize your child is surly and depressed.
You know all this. But knowing it doesn’t make living with your teen any easier. How can you help your teen survive summer romance? Here are some tips.
1. Keep things in perspective. Be interested and a good listener but don’t get over-involved. Remember this relationship is not likely to last past Halloween.
2. Be a good sounding-board. You know that a good way to find out what you think on an issue is to talk about it with someone else – even if the other person never says a word. Just being a sympathetic listener is a big help to your teen in sorting things out, so long as you remember to just listen and not give advice.
3. Avoid giving advice. Even if your teen asks for advice, be careful about giving any. Instead, ask your teen what he thinks. Or offer up several possible options. Strive to stay neutral about the whole situation.
4. Avoid giving opinions. You might really like one date over another one, but keep your opinions to yourself. Never fall into the trap of criticizing someone who has treated your teen shabbily – the road of true love never runs smooth and relationships that fall into the pits may soon be revived to the pinnacle of infatuation. You don’t want to be on the record saying unkind things about someone who turns out to be your teen’s favorite.
Of course, you will have filled your teen in on your value system with regards to dating and sex. Of course, you will be on the look-out for drinking, abusive behavior, and serious depression. Summer romance can be a catalyst for risky behavior and exaggerated emotions and you want to keep your teen as safe as you can.
But for most kids, summer romance is a learning experience – learning about themselves, mostly, and about other people too. This is an important part of every teen’s education. Help your child get the most from the experience.
© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.