How fast is too fast? The answer depends. If you are driving down the turnpike, you might have a different idea about that than the state police do. The person who is preparing your tax return may not share your definition of fast. And an adult is likely to have a different viewpoint than a teen when it comes to the speed of developing romantic relationships. So, how can families navigate this new terrain together?
We can begin by recognizing this new terrain is not totally new. How we model healthy relationships for our children, and how we help them develop relationship skills early in life, combine to lay the foundation for romantic relationships as they mature. What are we teaching them about boundaries, respect, trust, honesty, and communication from the start?
As they mature and begin to have romantic relationships, these early life learnings can be used to inform our conversations with them about those relationships. What boundaries will they set regarding the amount of time they spend with and in communication with a partner? How much time are they spending with friends and how does their partner react to this? Are they feeling pressured to do anything they feel they are not ready for?Is their partner discouraging them from doing the things they enjoy? Does their partner encourage their pursuit of the goals they have set?
When we care enough to listen, we give teens the gift of the space they need to slow down and reflect on the health of their relationships. For more information: www.loveisrespect.org
By Nadine J. Smet-Weiss