Preparing teens for a healthy dating experience begins with prepared parents. There will be sensitive (and maybe even awkward) conversations, but those conversations are crucial in order to inform and build confidence in your teen.

Parents should be ready to set boundaries that will balance their teen’s growing independence and well-being. Here are a few tips on how to raise teens to be responsible about dating:

Be involved. Know where your teen is, who they are with, and what they are doing.

Set boundaries. Talk with your spouse and go over what the two of you think are important rules for your teen. Do you both think your child is ready to date? Agree on a system, but be open to change.

Some rules to consider when your child first begins dating:

  • Set a curfew
  • You must meet the person your teen is going on a date with
  • Your teen can date only in a group setting
  • Your teen can date if adult supervision is close
  • Decide what is off-limits (Examples: your teen can go on a date once a week; your teen can only date someone their own age.)

It can be helpful to involve your teen in setting rules. They will be more likely to listen, feel respected, and respect you if they understand the reasons behind the rules and get to have a say in them. You can always revisit the rules once your teen establishes that they can be trusted and that they respect your rules.

Don’t compare. No two teens are alike, so don’t compare your teen to their older sibling, your friend’s teen, or your niece/nephew. Your older daughter might have been ready to date at 15, but your younger daughter might not be emotionally ready to date at that same age.

Be proactive. Be open in conversation with your teen. If you have regular conversations with your teen about a variety of topics, discussing dating and sex will be easier as you’ve established a comfort level with each other.Be clear about what behaviors you are and are not comfortable with. You might not be able to stop your child from having sex, but you can enlighten them about the emotional consequences. It isn’t that you’re endorsing it, you’re just educating.

Discuss birth control, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases. Revisit conversations about physical and emotional consequences for sexual behaviors. As stated earlier, it might be an awkward conversation to have with your teen, but it’s crucial to keep the conversation lines open.

If you’d like to set up an appointment with Reka, you can contact her by phone at 402-881-8125, by email at, or via Twitter or Facebook.

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