How to Talk to Your Teen About Love

How to talk to your teen about loveWith Valentine's Day coming up, love is in the air. But when you're the parent of a teen, the topic of romance and relationships can get a little tricky. Mike Domitrz, author of May I Kiss You? and Help! My Teen is Dating!, joins Away We Grow host Diane Mizota with some tips on talking to teens.

Related: 5 ways to effectively communicate with your kids

Love and romance are topics that can make parents uncomfortable, but Domitrz offers two rules for how to approach them with teens. First, he says, "Don't focus on love. Instead, focus on learning about themselves, learning about relationships, and then how to learn about their partner, get to know the person."

Related: How to talk to your kids about sex

The second rule, he says, is to not focus on your teen because teens don't like adults prying into their lives. But, he says, "they love talking about other people. Maybe a celebrity became pregnant at a young age, and you say to your teen, 'Why do you think they made that choice?' And by your teen's answers, you might start to learn their own belief systems."

One of the biggest mistakes parents make, according to Domitrz, is to talk to their sons and daughters completely differently. "They set up horrible standards that are gender roles, that are stereotypes, and their kids get stuck in them when they start dating," he adds.

Domitrz suggests some guidelines for parents who are looking to talk to their teenagers about love and relationships. "Number one, always honor their boundaries when they're in a relationship. And then make sure they always honor their partner's boundaries," he says.

"Number two, you want to make sure that they learn that healthy relationships are not filled with jealousy. Number three, is you want them to speak out verbally. You want your child to be able to talk with their partner about how they feel."

If a parent feels that a teen is getting too serious, too fast, Domitrz says to tell the teen, "We want to be able to help you, and we know this is happening. So we just want to understand why are you making this choice because we want to be a resource for you. And if you are going to be making this choice, we want to help you through it."

He adds, "Take your emotion of fear, anger, worry, out. By doing that you won't be judgmental."

And if the teen insists that he or she is in real love, Domitrz says to tell him or her, "Here's the great thing about love: You know they're going to be there, right? Because you're in love, it's not going anywhere, so you can slow down. There's no hurry to do anything."

Finally, Domitrz's advice for a heartbroken teen is this: "It's better, always, to be alone than to be in an unhealthy relationship."

For more great tips, check out Domitrz's web site, helpmyteenisdating.com.

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