A few years ago, before binge-watching was common and when you had to patiently (or not so patiently) wait for next-week’s episode to air, my husband and I regularly watched a television show about marriage and parenting, which was our current season of life. One episode, however, bothered me greatly, as one set of parents agonized over the approach of prom, panicked that their high school daughter, whom they felt was not ready for a sexual relationship, would lose her virginity that night with her more experienced, adult boyfriend.
Their concern was not what bothered me; naturally, we as parents are concerned about our teens and the choices they are making as we coach them to adulthood and independence. I was upset by their unwillingness to simply talk with their daughter.
With each other, the worried parents repeatedly discussed the various dynamics of her situation; however, they did not say one word to their teen, to see if SHE understood and respected these dynamics as she made choices for her life. Sadly, without having discussed this subject at all, the parents’ silent, “fingers-crossed” approach did not educate their daughter or steer her away from making the choice they so dreaded.
With February being the traditional “month of love,” our teens will find love and relationships repeatedly spotlighted on media platforms. They will be bombarded with post after post of cute couples celebrating Valentine’s Day, etc. Some content will be valuable while some will no doubt be either unrealistic or just plain inaccurate.
Instead of worrying about our teens possibly gaining a skewed view of love or sexual relationships, we parents can take advantage of the month’s romance avalanche to have some meaningful conversations with our teens, locating where they are on certain topics and ascertaining where they might need some additional mentoring.
These conversations do not have to be lengthy or heavy. On the contrary, the more that we can have frequent yet brief, meaningful talks as opportunities arise, the more our teens will see that we can talk about “tough stuff” calmly and with a perspective and wisdom that they do not yet have. The important thing is to strengthen communication lines, so that when we as a parent do have a concern or see an area that needs to be better understood by our teen, we have a quality communication track already laid to run on.
In a May 2021 article about parental influence, RaisingChildren.net.au asserts, “…the stronger your relationship with your child, the more influence you’ll have, because your child will be more likely to seek your guidance and value your opinion and support” (Source)
So let’s take some time in February to intentionally strengthen our relationships with our teens. It is the month of love after all, and no one loves our teens more than we do!
Yes, communicating with our teens can sometimes feel awkward or intimidating, as the aforementioned tv show illustrated. However, our teens genuinely need us! They especially need us to push past our own comfort levels to make sure that they are equipped with the best information and perspective possible as they make choices that impact their health, emotionally and physically.
That’s what PATH is all about, partnering with parents to equip students to make healthy choices, especially regarding relationships. We are so grateful for invested parents like you, showing great love by investing in your valuable teens with intention. We hope February is a fun month for your family, one filled with love, appreciation, and special moments shared, accompanied by some great chats together!
In the parenting trenches with you,