It’s wise to talk with your teen girl about being responsible, respectful and true to herself the moment you notice that she is interested in the opposite sex. When your teenager is ready to date, do not overwhelm her with the do’s and don’ts of dating at the last minute.
Preparing for her first date is a process that starts long before the actual date itself. If you provided her with the correct training and information up to the point of dating, then now is the time to trust that she will act accordingly.
Remember, you and your teen are both nervous about her first date. Provide her with the necessary support to help make the first date a day that neither one of you will live to regret.
BUT: She’s Dating a Young Man I Hate!
If you truly disapprove of the young man she’s dating, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I dislike him?
- What did he say or do to me or my daughter to make me feel this way?
- Is he disrespectful to my daughter?
- Is he too old for her?
- Does he remind me of someone from my past in some way?
- Am I somehow attempting to protect my daughter from making the same mistakes I made?
Answer each one of these questions with honesty. Once you’ve done so, you will discover the foundation for your disapproval. If you want an open and honest relationship with your daughter, sit down and talk with her about your answers to these questions.
Explain to her why you feel the way you do about her boyfriend. Start with yourself on this one. Investigate the reasons why you dislike him and talk them over with your daughter. She may not agree, however, she is more likely to discuss her relationship with you. In the end, that’s what you really want.
It is also critical that you and your daughter discuss the importance of appreciating and respecting her body. If your daughter respects herself, then no matter who she dates, she will always demand that they respect her, as well.
Bottom line: eventually, we all finally “get it” as we grow older and wiser because it’s our experiences that teach us our lessons in life. However, there are things that you can work on with your daughter now to ensure that she doesn’t make a mistake along the way that could hurt her future.
To help me discover how young women viewed their own self-image, I created a phase in my workshop where I encourage the girls to vent on the topic of Who I am vs. Who I Wish to Be.
This technique revealed to me that what teen girls meditate on can eventually dictate how they view themselves. Through this exercise, I learned that they engross themselves in music videos, fashion magazines, degrading music and so on, and I found that they wanted to adopt the identity of the images they often saw portrayed in the media. They wanted to be sexy and look “beautiful” based on these media images because they felt that only then could they be noticed and desired by young men.
Although this knowledge was based on their belief in false images, it was still important because it laid the groundwork for what truly hurts a young woman’s self-image. Attempting to claim the identity of someone in the media, simply because she finds that person more attractive, also leads a vulnerable teen girl into unhealthy relationships where she searches for reassurance that she is beautiful and desirable.
The best way to help your daughter find comfort in her own skin is to help her find activities that build her self-esteem and confidence. One suggestion is to advise her on getting involved with a sport. Studies show that girls involved in sports are more confident and less likely to be involved in unhealthy behavior.
Another suggestion is to limit the amount of time she spends watching television, and instead, encourage her to find a quiet space where she can read a variety of different books. Reading will open her mind to a world beyond superficial and stereotypical media images. Also, reiterate your love and respect for her on a regular basis. If she feels loved by her parents at home, she won’t be as prone to go outside of the home to find love or acceptance from someone else.