Another great thing to do is have your teen list the qualities they are looking for in a future mate. Not only will this initiate interesting discussion, it gives your teen something concrete to remember when making their choices. Teach your teen how to recognize others with positive qualities as well as how to identify those who may present themselves in one way, but live another. Anyone can say they are a Christian, but if your teen’s date is mean, controlling, cussing, yelling, checking phones, making fun of how your teen looks or giving the cold shoulder when they don’t get their way, help your teen understand the detriment to their relationship. Remind your teen that they should want to date someone who will help them become the best they can be. More than likely, they did NOT include negative characteristics on their list of qualifications for a future mate.

Another frequently asked question is, “What if I don’t like the person my teen is dating?” If you are like most parents, there is the likelihood that at least one will come along that you don’t hold in high regard. If there is no physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological danger to your teen and you just don’t like their date, stand by and try to gently lead. Telling them you don’t care for the person often drives them further away. Talk with your child about why they enjoy dating that individual. Keeping an open line of communication will help you know more of how your child is being affected in the relationship. Downgrading, fault-finding or belittling their date will only shut them off from you.

If you find that your teen is trying to “save” the person that you are not fond of, discuss the hopes your teen has and list their limits. Listing their limits in the relationship will help your teen realize how little control they have over the person they are dating. I will warn you, however, that it may take longer than you hope for your teen to realize they cannot change their date. This can be hard to watch as a parent, but stand by because they will need you soon enough.

I know a mom whose daughter insisted on seeing her older “crush.” She would sneak out, talk with the older boy without her parent’s consent and invite him over to a friend’s house where she would stay. Frustrated, the mom decided to try a different approach. The mom told her daughter she could spend time with the older boy under one condition – she must be present everywhere they went. The daughter reluctantly consented, and the mom accompanied her at all times. Although it was somewhat taxing on the mom, it paid off. The older boy got tired of mom tagging along and decided to end the relationship. Although the daughter was upset, she realized the older boy was not willing to make the sacrifice in order to spend time with her and the relationship dissolved.

Parents, based on statistics, we have reason to be on guard about our teen’s safety in the area of dating. One in three teenagers report being hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their date. One in four teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse. More than one in four teenage girls in a relationship report enduring repeated verbal abuse, and only 33% who have been in, or known about, an abusive relationship said they have told anyone about it (“Dating Abuse Statistics”). Furthermore, less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents (T.E.A.R). All of these statistics give us great reason to continually be involved in our teen’s dating life. If you find that your teen is dating someone abusive or who is an addict, get professional help. These are areas that can force your teen onto a road they are not intended to travel. Seek help immediately if you are made aware of any such happenings in your teen’s relationship. When your teen is with their date in your home, insist that they stay in rooms where others are present or where they may be easily accessed. All doors should remain open. Talking with the parents of your teen’s date can also be helpful. Let them know that you have expectations in your home and find out those of their home as well. This may help you in making decisions about where your teen spends most of their time.