|Friendships and Dating|
Teens today belong to a generation known as the Millennials. Born in the 1980’s and 1990’s they have grown up witnessing the “mistakes” of GenX and have developed a sense of community and responsibility all their own. Overall, teens today are on a great track. According to Neil Howe and William Strauss, social historians and authors, today’s youth is “less vulgar, less sexually active, and less violent than the youth culture adults have created for them. This is the only teen generation in recent memory for which this is true.”7
Understanding today’s youth culture can be an important step in understanding your child and your child’s environment. One of the defining characteristics of teens today is that they are very team-focused and peer influenced. The way your child interacts within his or her peer group is also critical. Teens value good friendships and seek peer approval. They tend to see themselves as a part of a community and are civic- and service-minded. These are great traits to build up in your teen! Helping build connectedness is one of the most valuable gifts you can give your child in helping him or her become a well-adjusted adult.
One of the greatest challenges to teens today involves pressure: pressure from friends, family, and other adults. Teens today are often overbooked and can become stressed over trying to meet others’ expectations. Helping your child feel confident and loved is important. It is also important to help your child build healthy friendships. Peer influence can be wonderfully positive, as long as your child’s friends encourage each other to make good decisions. Healthy friends share interests and ideas, but retain their own identities. They are considerate, not selfish or jealous, and allow each other to grow and mature. Although all friendships can have rocky periods, true friends will grow closer through trials. How can you foster healthy friendships?
While parents might see “going out” as a formal arrangement, much of teen social life is spontaneous and informal. From meeting in the school halls, to chatting after school while waiting for rides home, teen interaction helps young people develop a sense of who they are. As your child grows older, he or she will begin to become more interested in spending time with members of the opposite sex. This is a natural and healthy form of interaction when done within certain boundaries.
Some parents may try to push their child into lots of social activity, while others may try to discourage social interaction altogether. Parents need to balance their approach to their child’s social life, taking into account the child’s desires and his or her best interest.
Teens rarely speak of “dating.” For practical purposes, we will define a date. A date is when more than one person agrees on a time to go someplace and do something. There are four main categories for teen dates or activities:
Party - Involves lots of people and opportunities to meet a variety of peers. If not well-supervised and planned, they can easily get out of hand. Parties and group activities can be opportunities for drugs, alcohol, and other forms of negative peer influence.
Group date - Similar to a party, but more structured, and involving teens who usually already know one another.
Double date - An opportunity for teens to get to know a member of the opposite sex without all the pressure of a single date.
Single date - The “typical” dating scene, where two people decide to spend time getting to know each other. For teens with hazy boundaries or naivety, this may lead to uncomfortable pressure situations.
As a guideline, parents should be wary of early “single dating” but should remain open to appropriate group activities. Encourage your teen to think of creative ideas for all activities - anything from group ice skating to volunteering at a local soup kitchen. As a parent you will want to have a number of fun, inexpensive, and interesting suggestions for the all to frequent, “There’s nothing to do,” complaint. For a list of great teen dating and activity ideas, visit: http://www.saynoway.net/dating.shtml. Be sure that whatever the activity, it is age appropriate and supervised if necessary.
7 Howe and Strauss, Millennials Rising, www.millennialsrising.com
|Last Updated on Thursday, 25 August 2011 11:06|