No Dating Until You’re 30

Teens love to hang out together – in large groups, small groups, and couples. As parents, we’re happy they have friends. But then we start to worry when the friends turn into boyfriends and girlfriends. Our immediate reaction may indeed be, “no dating until you’re 30!” dating couple

Realistically we know that’s not likely to happen, so how can we approach the dating decisions? Let’s return to one of the five basics of parenting adolescents. Monitor and observe means that you let your teen know you are aware of their activities and relationships.

In the beginning, there may be direct supervision. Perhaps you volunteer to chaperone the school dance or let some dates happen in your home. You might give the teens a ride to the movie, mall, or game. As the teens get older and have more experiences, your monitoring becomes less supervision and more communication. Ask where your teen is going, who is the date, and what the couple plans to do. When this is done in a conversational way, rather than an inquisition, you are more likely to get an honest answer.

Another important strategy is to build a network with other parents and adults in the community. Be willing to let each other know of the good things happening as well as any troubling trends or events. Watch for signs of troubled relationships or abuse.

Dating is a natural evolution in relationships. While this issue may always strike angst in the heart of parents, dating is another step on the road to adulthood. Supervision, communication, observation, and networking with other adults are the keys to successfully traveling that road.

What family rules do you have for dating?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Consistent Parenting

On March 3rd, we discussed positive parenting strategies, including giving appropriate choices, explaining decisions, listening to the feelings and concerns of your children, setting limits, and acting out of love.

It’s important to not only use these strategies, but to use them as consistently as possible.  If children are receiving different messages from one or both parents, the child may get confused and be unsure of how to act.  It will help your child understand what is expected if you and any other parental figures are consistent.

How do you know if you and/or any other parents are inconsistent parents?  Do you say “yes” when the other parent says “no”?  Do you make a rule, but fail to follow through on the consequences when your child breaks the rule?  Do you say “no” to your child’s request, then back down and say “yes” if the child persists?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there’s probably room for improvement.

One way you can improve consistency is to create boundaries.  Determine what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, and what consequences are appropriate if children behave in unacceptable ways.  Remember when determining consequences, it needs to be something you can follow through on.

Clearly explain to your children the rules and consequences that have been decided upon, and why they have been chosen.  For example, “If you run into the street while playing outside, you will have to play inside for two days.  We want you to be safe and not get hurt, so we need to know you will stay in the yard.”

Be sure they understand what the boundaries are, and what will occur if these boundaries are broken.  Depending on the age of your children, they may have some input on rules and consequences.  This gives you a good opportunity to listen to and consider their thoughts and reasons.  You may find it is appropriate to change a rule or consequence based on what your child says, but always remember:  you make the final decision.

All parental figures need to consistently follow through on the rules and consequences.  If a child breaks a rule, the consequence needs to immediately follow the incident.  If consequences are not used consistently or immediately, it can be hard for children to make the connection between the behavior and the consequence.

When is it most difficult for you to be a consistent parent?  What strategies might you try to help you stay consistent in these difficult situations?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Cyberbullies

Previously in this blog, we wrote an article about cyberbullying, which detailed some statistics about cyberbullying, and helpful hints for keeping your child safe from cyberbullies.  But, what happens if your child is the cyberbully?  No parent wants to be confronted with this issue, but if you ever find yourself in this unfamiliar territory, it’s crucial to handle the situation appropriately for the sake of your own child and for the victim’s sake.

First, you will likely need to limit your child’s use of the Internet.  Let the child know that the behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable, and Internet use will be limited or eliminated until he/she can learn to use online media appropriately.  Beyond this initial reaction, you will need to discuss with your child how to use the Internet appropriately.  Lay clear expectations and ground rules.  Let you child know that he/she will have to demonstrate that he/she understands and follows the rules consistently and without reminders before full, unsupervised use of the Internet will be granted.

Next, sit down with your child to discuss why cyberbullying is so harmful.  Oftentimes, it’s easy for people, adults included, to write or type things that they would never say to someone’s face.  We all get brave when hiding behind written words because we know we will not have to see the reactions of the other person.  We don’t have to see the anger or tears, and we don’t have to hear the immediate backlash.  Ask the child how he/she would feel if someone said that to his/her face.  Would it hurt the child’s feelings?  Make him/her cry?  Or feel angry?  A good rule of thumb for online chatting is to never type anything that you would not say to the person’s face.

Finally, you can also ask the child to think about what was said, and why it was said.  Was the child feeling angry?  Betrayed?  Sad?  Brainstorm with your child how the situation could have been handled differently.  Talk through options of how to manage these feelings and confront the situation.  Help your child choose an appropriate course of actions for the next time he/her feels this way and needs to handle a situation appropriately.

Do you have experiences with cyberbullying?  Have you been the parent, the victim, the cyberbully?  How was the situation handled?  What tips do you have for confronting cyberbullying?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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