Banner Fort Collins Medical Center

SPR 2016

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

Issue link: http://spiritofwomen.epubxp.com/i/655888

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9 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S P R I N G 2 016 S P I R I T O F W O M E N HELPING navigate the dating scene H E L P I N G n a v i g a t e t h e d a t i your teen F A M I L Y S T Y L E By Stephanie Thompson SHUTTERSTOCK And keep in mind that the car is a perfect setting for these kinds of discussions since your teen is a captive audience when you're driving somewhere. SUBJECT MATTERS Psychologist Carl Pickhardt, author of "Surviving Your Child's Adolescence" (Jossey-Bass, 2013), advises parents to "talk to your teen about what a good relationship is. While you may think your teen already knows how to date, they probably don't," he says. "Most of their information comes from media that's meant to be entertaining, not realistic. Make sure your child understands what it means to be in a loving and supporting relationship. And once you're done talking, set a good example in your relationship with your significant other." Teens may have to go through a few bad "practice" relationships to learn important lessons, says Pickhardt, but he recommends resisting the urge to interfere or offer opinions about someone you may not like unless you feel your teen is in active danger. Finally, make an effort not to be dismissive of your child's feelings about dating even if you think he or she is being melodramatic about a situation: "Remember that their feelings are strong, and that they're looking for validation," explains Hatchell. • W hen it comes to today's teens and dating, the lingo may be different (it's not "dating," it's "going out"), but the important issues are the same as they've always been. That's why it's vitally important to talk to your teen early and often about this universal rite of passage. While the subject of your child's romantic interests and sexuality may seem hard to broach, the best strategy is to be as open as possible, says Deborah Hatchell, author of "What Smart Teenagers Know About Dating, Relationships and Sex" (Piper Books, 2003). TALKING THE TALK Ideally, "kids grow up having open conversations from the beginning, with parents using real terms for body parts around potty talk and then having 'the talk' super-duper early," says Hatchell. But if you're like many parents and this hasn't been your approach, dating and sex give you a good reason to start, because teens really want and need your advice even when they pretend they don't. To break the ice, Hatchell suggests using plot lines from TV shows or stories in the news as conversation starters. Offer up your opinions about modern issues of love and sex that arise, such as, "It must be difficult for that person who had a sex tape made about them," and see where the conversation takes you with your teen. Self-disclosure can also be a great opener. "Without going into … details, you can say things like, 'I had the worst crush on this kid that didn't like me,' and let them know you do understand and that, even if you're married, you weren't born married," says Hatchell. Try using plot lines from TV shows or stories in the news as conversation starters.

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