Dating advice for middle schoolers is hard to come by. Most of the time, parents are just as clueless as their children when it comes to this topic. However, there are a few things that both parents and teens can keep in mind when it comes to dating in middle school. Read on for some tips and advice.
Discuss parental rules about dating
Before your teen begins middle school dating, it’s important to sit down and talk to them about the different types of relationships that are appropriate for their age and what they expect from a partner. Tell them that there are some things that are just not appropriate for anyone, including sexual behavior or romantic relationships. Explain the importance of being honest and treating others with respect.
Set clear rules and stick to them
Whether you’re setting the rules or your teen is, it’s important to clearly communicate what your expectations are. If you want your child to call you before they go out with a friend or go on a date, don’t say, “I don’t want you dating, just call me when you’re home.” Instead, say, “If you’re going out with friends, I need to know where you are and when you’ll be home. Let’s all agree to communicate using our cell phones. I want to be able to reach you if I need to.” If you’re not comfortable with your child driving, say so. If you’re not comfortable with your child drinking, say so. Your rules are your rules and you must set and consistently enforce them. Your teen will respond best to rules that are not flouted.
Talk openly with your child about the risks of dating
Your teen may not be aware of the dangers that can occur, such as sexually transmitted infections, domestic violence, or cyberbullying. When kids are open to honest and regular conversation, they are more likely to ask questions and learn about what’s happening in the world. If you want to talk to your teen about the potential risks of dating, don’t beat around the bush. Tell them that you love them and want to protect them. Tell them you won’t stop them if they date, but remind them that you’re in a position to help if they ask for your advice.
Have rules about where your child can go and who they can spend time with
Even at a young age, you can establish your rules about your kids and where they can go. In middle school, it’s not unheard of for children to hang out at school or at their friends’ homes after school hours. While it’s important to set clear boundaries, it’s also important to let them know that you’re always watching and that you will always be there to help them out if need be.
Set rules about how often your child can date
Even if your teen is close to the age of their friend, it’s important to maintain a parent-child relationship separate from their romantic relationship. If you aren’t comfortable with your child seeing their friend more frequently, you should set ground rules about how often they can date. A good idea is to set a rule of no more than one date a week with a different friend. Or, you could let your child set the limits for how many dates they can have.
Have a code of conduct
Your kids are bound to date, and that’s fine! But you need to set some guidelines for how they should treat each other. Have them read the book The Not-So-Secret Life of the Teenage Girl by Lili Fuhr and share it with them. The book will help your teen to understand what sexual and relationship boundaries look and feel like for them. If your teen says they have sex, ask them what they know about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases. If they are sexually active, have them visit Planned Parenthood and the local health department to get information and access to birth control.
Keep code of conduct in a visible location
Make sure that everyone is aware of your school’s code of conduct. Post it in a visible location, like a hallway or common room. This helps to remind everyone of the expectations, especially when it comes to online interactions. You can also create a handout to share with parents and teens who aren’t familiar with the code.
Make sure all members of the community have access to the code of conduct
This can be especially important when it comes to digital activities. Online, kids and teens have much more access to each other than they might in the physical world. It’s important that your teen knows that there will be consequences if they break the code of conduct. Whether it’s setting clear consequences or making sure that your teen knows it’s a possibility that their accounts could be banned or restricted they should be aware of the repercussions of their actions.
Ensure that your code of conduct is clear and easy to understand
Just as you wouldn’t let your 12-year-old child hop on a bus alone without knowing the route, you should not let your child date without knowing the rules. Make sure that you have a clear and easy to understand code of conduct and make sure your teen is aware of it. Be willing to talk to them about what is and isn’t appropriate. Remember that people are more likely to be cautious and think before they act if they know what to expect.
If you or your group have a written code of conduct, make sure it is up-to-date
It is always a good idea to keep your code of conduct up-to-date, especially as you add and remove members. If your group is using the Internet, consider setting up a Google Drive document where everyone can add contributions.
Set rules about meeting friends
Discuss with your child where and when they can hang out with friends. Establish a curfew for those who are under the age of 18. This will help your child feel safe. Set up social media guidelines that they need to follow. Don’t allow them to use social media to bully or harass people. Keep the conversation open and try not to judge your child’s friends.
Pick a neutral location
It’s important to choose a location that’s neutral ground for both of you. A coffee shop or library is a great spot because neither of you needs to feel anxious or be on the defensive. It doesn’t matter if you’re not interested in each other or if you don’t know each other that well yet. The best way to prevent feelings from developing is to spend time with people you already know and like, so make sure you choose an area where you can be comfortable.
Make sure everyone is comfortable
It can be easy to feel nervous about meeting someone new, especially if it involves dating. But if you’re not sure you want to date, it’s important to set clear boundaries and remind your teen of those boundaries when meeting someone new. If they’re not comfortable with you dating, remind them that it’s your job to help them figure out if that’s where they want to be. It’s not anyone else’s job to make them feel comfortable or happy with something they don’t want.
Set clear boundaries
You can help your teen set appropriate boundaries by helping them to understand what they can and can’t do. If your teen is interested in a friend, help them make a list of questions they’d like to ask before they spend time with them. Be supportive and remind them that it’s important to get to know people on your terms.
Be involved in your child’s life
Your child is in middle school for a reason: They’re growing up. You want to stay involved in their life as long as they’re willing to allow you to be involved. Involvement doesn’t have to be all-consuming or smothering. It might be as simple as asking your child what they did at school that day, including any challenges they had. Find out what interests your child and try to find ways to help them accomplish their goals.
Learn about your child’s interests
Before you allow your child to meet a potential date, you should talk to them about how you feel about dating. Ask them what they think about it and express your concerns as well. You should also talk to your child about their friends and how you feel about them. You can even talk to them about what you like and dislike in a potential date. While it might seem like an invasion of their privacy, ask them about it out of genuine interest in your child’s life and how they feel about the opposite sex.
Read books about your child’s interests
A great way to stay involved in your child’s life and to create an interest in something they love is to read books about it. This will allow you to learn more about what they are interested in and maybe even spark an interest in you! Try to find books that are geared towards your child’s age group and talk to them about what you are reading.
Do you know where your child is and with whom they are spending time when they are out of the house? Do you know who they are calling, texting, or chatting with online? Do you know what apps they have on their phone? How old your child is? Are they a strong enough to be able to share with you if they are uncomfortable with something? Are they willing to talk about their feelings? Do you know how they feel about you? These are all questions you should be asking.
Parents tend to underestimate the importance of social activities in middle school years. However, these activities can be critical in helping your teen develop and practice conversation skills. By attending school-sponsored events, kids get a chance to practice talking with people they don’t know and learn how to answer questions in a more formal setting.
Visit your child’s school
The best way to know what is happening in your child’s life is to be present in the school. It is important to check in with teachers and talk with your child about how school is going. If you notice a certain trend in your child’s behavior, like an increase in ditching class or falling behind in their work, talk to your child’s teacher and school counselor to see if there is something going on that needs to be addressed.
Trust your child
As parents, we want to protect our children from all dangerous situations, especially those that can lead to sexual encounters. However, in order to do that, we need to remember that sometimes the best way to help a child learn the boundaries and to grow up is to trust them. Believe in your child’s ability to make good decisions and trust that you will not be responsible for any sexual activity that your child may engage in. Believe in your child’s ability to have healthy relationships with others that will last for life and the importance of love in those relationships.
Trust is the belief in the strength, value, or ability of someone or something
Trusting your child is not the same as giving them free reign to do whatever they want. Trust is earned, and it begins with parents modeling trust in their children and speaking about the importance of trust. It’s also a two-way street. Children need to learn to give trust to others as well as receive it. As your teen grows, you can continue to build their trust in you by showing them that you trust them in smaller situations, for example, by giving them more responsibility in chores or by allowing them to venture out on their own with friends for a bit longer.
Trust is earned through time, experience, and relationships
The same is true for teenagers. In middle school, it can be very tempting to give your child more trust than you think they are ready for. But parents must realize that trust is something that is earned through time, experience, and relationships. Your child needs to learn that the world is not always a safe and trusting place. They need to learn that not everyone is to be trusted, and that not everyone will have their best interest at heart.
Trust is necessary for strong relationships
A strong foundation is key to building a relationship with someone, and trust is part of that foundation. If you don’t trust someone, you’ll be less likely to confide in them or allow them to get too close to you. In turn, they’re less likely to trust you either. Trust is a two-way street, and you can’t build a relationship on a foundation of mistrust.
Trust is not something that should be given freely
The world is not a safe place for children, so you need to trust that your kids are capable of making good decisions. It’s important to talk to your middle school teenager about the dangers of sexual activity and drugs. Teach them to trust their gut feelings about people, and help them develop good relationships with the adults in their lives who can guide them through the confusing and anxiety-provoking world of adolescence.
Trust is earned through time, experience, and relationships
Trust in a relationship is earned over time. This can be a challenge for teenagers whose parents trust everyone they date, including their friends’ parents! If you’ve had any red flags about a relationship your teen has been in or if they’ve shown a pattern of having partners who have violated your trust, talk to them about it. It’s important that they know you love them and that you expect them to continue to build a relationship with you and show you respect. When they demonstrate that they’ve earned the right to trust, you’ll be more likely to trust them in the future.
In conclusion, dating in middle school can be beneficial for parents and teens alike. If both parties are willing to communicate and compromise, it can be a great way to learn about relationships. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and be sure to set clear boundaries. What do you think? Is dating in middle school a good idea?