Your Teen Boy and The Confusing Life of Dating

Being a teenage boy is difficult enough in itself, but when your teen starts to date, his life gets even more complicated. Teens have quickly changing moods, volatile emotions, and very little idea how to navigate a healthy relationship with a dating partner.

Be sure to talk to your teen often about healthy dating relationships, even before they start to date. Explain that mutual respect, open communication, trust, kindness, being considerate, and sharing interests and values are important. Tell your teen that he can talk to you about any of his problems involved with dating. However, if you believe he may not be telling the truth and you notice signs of outlandish behavior from him such as becoming defiant, it may be time to look into a Therapeutic Boarding School such as Liahona Treatment Center.

Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship

Notice your teen’s interactions with his dating partner and look for marked changes in his behavior. Your teen may stop spending time with his friends and only want to be with his partner. He may change how he acts or dresses, or stop participating in activities he enjoys. His partner may demand that he check in all the time, and account for where he’s been, who he’s with, and what he’s been doing. His partner may get angry if he even talks to other teens. Emotionally abusive teens are extremely jealous, possessive, and controlling. His partner may manipulate him by threatening to break up if they don’t get their way, or saying things like, “If you really love me, you would do what I want.” These are all signs of emotional abuse.

Teens boys can become involved in physically and sexually abusive relationships as well. Be aware of unexplained injuries, bruises, red marks, or scratches that may indicate physical abuse. Ask your son how he got those injuries and discreetly check on his story. Talk to your teen about establishing boundaries. No one should force or threaten him to make him do things he doesn’t want to do. And he should not coerce anyone into activities they don’t want to do. It may be terribly uncomfortable, but talk about safe sex, consent, and the consequences of sexual activities. Usually teens are too embarrassed or afraid to admit that their dating partner is physically or sexually abusing them. The rate of violence in teen dating is the same for teen boys and girls. Tell your teen that he should talk to you or some other adult that he trusts if he's being hurt physically.

Although it’s hard to accept, it is possible that your teen is not the victim in an abusive relationship, but is the abusive partner. Watch for signs that your son is not treating his partner with respect or that he has become physically abusive.

Monitoring Online Relationships

Keep an eye on your son’s online relationships - whether he just talks, texts and chats online with someone, or they occasionally meet in person. Make sure your teen knows that they should never reveal personal information online. Explain to him that not everyone is who or what they claim to be online. Monitor your teen’s online activity and check on the websites they visit and communications they are having with online friends. If your son is going to meet with someone they’ve befriended online, ask them to tell you in advance, just in case. Suggest they meet in a public place. You may even want to watch from a distance for your son’s safety. If your son does not follow your rules for online communications and tries to hide his online activities, you may need to block his online access to certain websites and communication platforms.

What Can You Do When Your Son Is Dating Someone You Don’t Approve Of?

There are two things you should not do when your son is dating someone you don’t approve of. First, do not try to forbid your son from seeing his partner, or try to make them break up. Secondly, do not criticize his partner, point out all their faults, and try to make him see that they’ve made a bad choice of partners. Both approaches will backfire, and even normally well-behaved teens will lie and sneak around, in order to see the person that they believe they’re in love with. Teens have a romantic notion that they should be willing to do anything to be with the one they love, even if it means doing something wrong.

Invite your son’s dating partner to the house and spend time with both of them. Even though it may be difficult, be civil and polite. Teens will often realize that their choice in partner is not a good fit after they have spent some time together in their home and with their family. If, however, you constantly criticize his partner and ban them from your house, he will probably become defensive and even more attached to them.

If your son does discuss problems with his relationship, don’t jump in and immediately suggest he break up with his partner. Ask questions about the relationship, but don’t give your own judgment, criticism, or advice, unless asked.. Have your son tell you what he enjoys about being with his partner.. Ask what each of them gives and what they get from the relationship. Ask how he thinks the relationship can be improved. Sometimes, teens just need to talk about the situation, so they can figure out for themselves that the relationship is not worth maintaining.

If you have concerns about your son’s choice of partner, discuss the specific behaviors that you find alarming, rather than focusing on your criticisms of the person. For example, say that you’re concerned that your son ‘s partner insists that he stop hanging out with his friends, or demands that he tell them what he’s doing and where he’s going all the time. Tell him you noticed that they spend a lot of time arguing and being mad at each other. Ask you son if he spends more time being happy in the relationship or being upset.

Set limits and develop dating rules for your teen. Discuss curfew, driving rules,substance use and the consequences for breaking the rules. Put limits on phone and social media use. For example, if your teen tends to talk and text all night with his partner, take away his phone and computer at a certain time each night. Put it on a charger in your bedroom, so that he can’t get access. Require that they spend at least some of their time together at your house, so that you can watch how they interact.

What If Your Teen Has Trouble with More Than His Dating Relationships?

Teens with emotional, psychological, and behavioral problems may also have problems with healthy dating relationships. If your teen is involved in an abusive relationship as well as getting in trouble at school or with the law, and causing problems at home, it is time to intervene. If you have talked with your teen, tried disciplinary measures, and taken him to therapy, but his behavior continues to decline, you may want to consider sending him to a therapeutic boarding school.

Therapeutic boarding schools provide a safe and closely monitored environment for troubled teens. They offer individual, family, and group therapy. Teens learn to understand their own emotional, psychological, and behavioral issues, and learn to develop healthy relationships with family, peers, and others.

Therapeutic boarding schools have academic programs so that teens can earn credits toward graduation, and other educational, social, physical, and outdoor activities. Sometimes the best way to get a teen back on track is to remove him from all the influence of his peers, access to drugs or social media, the demands and pressures of school, and the turmoil his behavior has created at home, and give him a fresh start.

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