(Photo by Gama. Films)
When it comes to dating, I’ve learned (the hard way) to start having the conversation earlier than you think you need to. Nowadays with social media being involved in kids' lives, it’s crucial for us to speak to our sons and make sure they are fully aware of what they are getting into when it comes to dating.
I believe the dating conversation is ongoing, however, it can be broken into two phases. Phase 1 is the “innocent, just getting your feet wet phase” and phase 2 is the “things are getting serious phase.”
I also look at dating as a microcosm for choosing a life partner. With that in mind, we want them to make informed decisions based on long-term things, not just physical attraction.
Here’s some advice that a father may want to consider sharing with his teenage son about Phase 1 of dating:
Respect: It's important to teach your son to respect others, especially women. He should understand the importance of treating his partner with kindness, understanding and consideration.
Communication: Encourage your son to communicate openly and honestly with his partner. Communication is key in any relationship, and it's important to establish healthy communication patterns early on. Let them know they are setting the tone for the relationship. It’s not about sharing or withholding things so they keep the person interested. Now’s the time to establish great communication and honesty. ALSO, and this is super important, he should understand that communication is not ONLY what you say but what you DO. Actions speak louder than words. If he tells a girl he’s not really interested but is calling and texting them daily, his actions are not matching his words. That can be misinterpreted by the young lady who may be attracted and interested in him. Warn him not to “lead them on” even if he repeatedly mentions he’s not interested.
Consent: Teach your son about the importance of consent in any romantic or sexual encounter. He should understand that consent must be freely given and that he should always ask for permission before engaging in any sexual activity. This is also a great way to earn some trust with his partner. We as men know women like to feel safe and secure. This is also true for young ladies as well. This is a great opportunity to teach him to “read the room.” Feel the vibe, some boundaries are not always verbalized. If it feels awkward or uncomfortable, play it safe and fall back!
Boundaries: Encourage your son to set healthy boundaries and to respect the boundaries of others. It's important for him to understand that everyone has their own limits and comfort levels, and that it's important to respect them.
Responsibility: Remind your son that he is responsible for his actions and that there are consequences to his behavior. When it comes to dating, these actions could have MAJOR, life changing repercussions.He should understand the importance of making responsible decisions and treating others with care and consideration.
Self-respect: Encourage your son to have self-respect and to choose partners who treat him with respect and kindness. He should understand that he deserves to be treated well and that he should never tolerate any form of abuse or mistreatment.
Empathy: Teach your son to be empathetic and to consider the feelings of others. He should understand that relationships require compromise and that it's important to be supportive and understanding of his partner's needs and desires.
These are just a few things you should consider discussing with your teenage son about dating. Ultimately, the most important thing is to establish open communication and support your son as he navigates his way through the complexities of dating and relationships.