Any American high school is teeming with hormones, unrequited love, pressure and relationships. The teenage years can be confusing to many, parents included. Some teens fall in love young and curtain themselves off from other social experiences, whereas some are still immature, young and still exploring their own development. When teens are participants in a relationship, a variety of problems can arise that make teens feel pressured, stressed out and even neglectful of other responsibilities. Talk to your teen about appropriate relationships and what to watch for when committed to one.
Teenagers are young and inexperienced; while they think they know what's best, a parent can see emotional destruction long before the teen feels it. This immaturity, both of experience and emotion, can cause teens to think they are in love when they are in fact infatuated. This infatuation can cause teens to experience low self-esteem, devastation and depression when the relationship ends.
A teen may feel pressure to do things that she doesn't want to do while in a relationship. A boyfriend may ask her to go places or do things to prove that she "loves" him, or she may do things because it seems as if the rest of her friends are participating. Talking to your teenager about how to say no and when to leave a situation can help her understand when she is being pressured. The Guttmacher Institute notes that nearly half of American teens are sexually active, and too often this is the result of pressure.
A teen relationship, even a casual one, can wreak havoc on your teen's grades. Spending time with his girlfriend and neglecting homework, or even skipping school together, can take his focus off the important things and cause his grades to slip. Your teen should understand that relationships are a privilege, and that his education comes first.
Dependency and Self-Worth
Too often teens enter into a relationship before they love even themselves, which turns into dependency. Kimiberly Kirberger, author of "Teen Love: On Relationships, A Book for Teenagers," urges teens to learn more about themselves, cultivate their personalities and find their self-esteem before attempting a relationship. The first love is with the person that your teen sees in the mirror. If she enters a relationship without that confidence, it won't be long before she begins to believe that her worth is only as half of a teen couple.
Being part of a couple can alter your teen's social status at school. He might feel like he's not popular unless he's with his girlfriend, or a girl could be given an "easy" label because she dates a lot. Unfortunately, social status means almost everything to a teenager, so when his social status is raised or lowered because of his relationship, he'll experience an artificial boost in self-confidence, or feel badly about himself because of his status.
- Guttmacher Institute: Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health
- Teen Love: On Relationships, A Book for Teenagers; Kimberly Kirberger; 1999