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Homecoming dances and teenage dating | Speaking Pink
Fall is in the air — and so are the rituals of high school. Past weekends have been filled with homecoming traditions of football games and formal dances. While many students attend these events as friends, this is also a time when teens launch into dating.
These years are priceless as young people navigate matters of the heart. The encounters of infatuation and first love are among the most meaningful relationship experiences we know in early years. While they may not last forever or even be perfect, first experiences of intimate relationship, which often occur during adolescence, are deeply significant.
Dating relationships during these years provide a relational environment for exploring areas of physical attraction, emotional and sexual intimacy, and skills of communication. It’s a developmental time for young people experiencing themselves as relational beings and learning to assert their desires and needs within an intimate context.
Early dating experiences offer great teaching and lay foundational imprints which help shape the choices we make about love as adults. For this reason, it’s an important time for parents and young people to engage in conversations about healthy or abusive relationships, sexual decision-making, and how our dating choices impact life directions.
As adolescents develop dating relationships, it’s especially crucial for parents to assist their teen in creating a dating experience honoring and respectful to both parties. Currently, abuse and violence have increased dramatically among dating youth. It’s estimated one in three girls will experience an abusive dating relationship by the time she graduates high school. Controlling behavior by either partner must be addressed in order to prevent this climbing trend of abuse. Texting and sexting deserve our attention here.
The power of family matters. The greatest contexts for teens discovering expectations, desires, and behaviors for dating relationships develop from the modeling within their own family, in their community, and from exposure to media messages.
What is your son or daughter learning about relationships from the modeling he/she experiences in your home, on your television, or in your social circles? Are these images supporting or preventing the desires you have for your son or daughter’s experience in relationship?
These years of adolescent dating will likely be filled with both great joy and tender heartache. Amidst the journey, it’s important for teens to have several trusting and supportive relationships with adults to lend a listening and compassionate ear.
Fostering relationships with other parents, extended family members, mentors, teachers, counselors, and youth leaders within your religious or community organizations can all be foundational for providing both support and guidance.
Additionally, if your teenage son or daughter is in an intimate relationship and you would like to provide them with additional support, TeenLink (1-866-TeenLink) is a confidential hotline available each weeknight between 6-10 p.m.
Shannon West is the owner of Speaking Pink, a therapy practice in Kirkland for teenage girls and 20s women. Email: email@example.com.