The Halfway Point This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     One day the inevitable will happen and you will start dating, whether your parents like it or not. It’s what makes the world go round. That’s right! You know very well that you are the result of some sort of relationship, whether good and lasting or not. These relationships often begin during the teen years.

Isn’t it odd that parents are so eager to share with their children the stories about how they had to walk to school and mow the grass and live without color TV, but they seem to forget to tell the stories of their first boyfriend or girlfriend? Why do parents avoid sharing their dating experiences? My guess is it’s because if they did, they would be admitting that it is actually normal for young people to have relationships and that teen relationships do have significance. This is why I am so baffled over the silly clichés associated with teen relationships.

When adolescents begin dating they may experience “puppy love,” where they think that they’re going to be with the object of their affection for the rest of their lives. Often, they break up two weeks later. But not every relationship before adulthood is insignificant. Relationship skills, just like anything, improve with practice. Most dating skills are developed through failed relationships. Teens learn what qualities they want (and don’t want) in a future mate. How could learning that be insignificant?

Parents aren’t the only ones who have misconceptions about teen relationships. Young men and women need to realize they probably won’t stay with their current boyfriend or girlfriend until “death do us part.” There is nothing wrong with teenagers having relationships; it is even okay for them to fall in love and dream of being together forever (though in most cases it won’t work out that way). So, while they are floating on cloud nine, they should remember that it is not the end of the world if things don’t work out. I hate to see girls give up their dreams so that they can follow their flavor of the week to his school, job or residence only to be dumped.

If you do find someone and they are a real keeper, make sure that they know your family. Parents do want the best for their children, so why are they often so uninvolved in their kids’ relationships? How can parents feel comfortable letting their pride and joy run around with a stranger? I can’t begin to tell you how many parents I know who don’t know the first name of their offspring’s “love.” Bring your girlfriend or boy-friend over for dinner or game night so that they can feel comfortable with your family. Parents might find they enjoy your significant other’s company. Not to mention that you will be spending quality time with your parents. Teens will be more apt to approach their parents with questions or concerns if they know that parents are interested. Teens should be able to talk to and trust their parents, especially about touchy issues like sex. In my opinion, parents would rather their kids have knowledge of sex and its consequences than let them proceed without the knowledge.

The bottom line is that teens and their parents need to meet in the middle when the subject of dating and relationships pops up. Parents tend to be too critical and insensitive of their teens’ feelings. Their relationships are significant and full of emotion and parents should be a part of that. On the other hand, teenagers can be unrealistic with relationships because of the emotion and excitement involved. So how can this work? By meeting halfway. Parents need to be part of their children’s relationships by accepting, advising and encouraging them. Teens need to be open about their relationships with their parents and should be realistic with themselves.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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