As teen boys enter the dating world, they learn how the right lady can make their hearts flutter in ways they’ve never felt before. As they gain experience, they start to recognize the importance of maturity and selflessness, while getting a glimpse of the compromises and sacrifices needed to maintain and nurture a healthy, mutually beneficial, long-lasting relationship.
Some teens aren’t ready, and it’s all good. Girls change boys’ lives, forever. Spending an extra year or so basking in the innocence of youth is both normal and healthy. Some boys don’t date much or at all in high school, waiting instead until they’ve grown up a bit and developed more self-confidence.
Manners & Respect
When boys consistently have manners, show courtesy, and carry themselves with dignity, their reputation precedes them as they unlock and open proverbial doors that remain closed to boys of lesser character. If a teen boy disrespects or says inappropriate things to or about even one girl, honor is lost. By walking with integrity, teenagers invite feelings of respect, value, and acceptance into their inner circle, kicking off a domino effect of attraction to other kids who are drawn to healthy energy.
Self-Awareness & The Right Girl
Do teenage boys know what they want? Other than fantasizing about girls, it can be helpful to consider (and even write down) desirable characteristics of a romantic partner. What life do they envision for themselves? What are their priorities? While a shapely figure turns heads and a beautiful smile melts hearts, the full package of a relationship is embodied by so much more than just the physical. Boys are well served to learn about a girl’s likes and dislikes, her propensities, her proclivities—without necessarily taking a date to the next level. It’s normal and healthy for boys to be friends with girls outside of a dating relationship.
In all situations, teen boys must respect boundaries. Different people connect differently; intensity and pace aren’t the same from one relationship to another. Even if a girl is more assertive, boys on the teenage dating scene must recognize what is appropriate and be true to their values.
Don’t Neglect Friends
When teens fall for someone, blind devotion all too commonly causes other relationships to fall by the wayside. If fathers see this happening, let’s remind our sons how important it is to spend time with their other friends and not neglect these core relationships.
Teens need to learn how to think logically, make decisions, and learn from experience. Micromanaging parents disrupt the learning process, sabotaging a young man’s autonomy and the very self-esteem and self-confidence we seek to instill. At a certain age, a father should grant his son the space to discover who he is, who he is becoming, and who he wants to be.
Disapproval of Our Son’s Dating Partner
What if our son starts dating someone and we don’t approve? Honest self-reflection may help us realize if we are inappropriately injecting any unfair bias into his relationship. If after self-reflection, we still harbor feelings of ill-will, remember that our son is excited about someone they care for deeply. Our job isn’t to judge but to learn about his date and their connection. No matter how we feel, open-minded curiosity is best; teenagers are smart. Disingenuous conversations unravel before they even start. If we have a negative attitude, any advice is likely to fall on deaf ears. No matter how good our intentions are, teens have an exceptional talent for ignoring lectures, criticism, and disapproval.
Vocal opposition to a relationship, threats, and controlling ultimatums lead to alienation and resentment. Our condemnation will reduce the likelihood of our son asking for advice in the future out of fear that we’ll say, “I told you so.” Before casting judgment, consider asking open-ended questions to better understand things, such as, “What are her interests? What do you like about her? What do you like best about the relationship?”
Attitudes of either respect or rudeness both tend to reciprocate. By making ourselves approachable, we might just learn something about the supposed “vixen” who has our sweet, potentially impressionable young boy so captivated. Invite her to dinner or to come along for a family outing. With genuine interest and an open mind, we can learn more about their relationship and any previously overlooked redeeming qualities—and our son will appreciate our efforts. Hopefully, we’ve instilled values that he can rely on to make good choices as he follows his own path.
Birds & the Bees
It is likely that we (or mom) have already talked about sex, sexting, harassment, and other sensitive issues facing teens. Even if we believe there is little to no risk of our son becoming sexually active or being assaulted, it is good to discuss these issues. The conversation might make us both uncomfortable, but knowledge is an important part of learning how to manage intimacy in healthy ways. A quick, non-confrontational talk may help our son protect his own best interests.
Ending a Relationship
One reality about life: high-school sweethearts rarely make it to the altar. Sparks fizzle and teens turn their attention elsewhere. Feelings might get hurt; our son may have to contend with the pain of heartbreak. As with all things in life, for those involved, respect is paramount.
It’s best when relationships end on amicable terms. If drama ensues, we must teach our boys to resist or even refuse continued involvement. Teen love can be a whirlwind; boys have a responsibility to 1) maintain respect and 2) realize if the time has come to keep their distance. If concerned with our son’s emotional or physical safety, voice these concerns with him to get a pulse on the situation. In extreme cases, contact the police, get a restraining order, and work with his school on a safety plan.
If we’ve raised them right, we can rest easier than fathers who are releasing sons into the teenage dating wilderness with no training in the ways of character and integrity. With self-respect and respect for others, respect will be at the heart of their every interaction, empowering them to build healthy relationships on a solid and proper foundation.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” —Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV
With his typical wit and wisdom for teens, brings much sought after advice on girls’ favorite topics including dating, love, friendship, and other important stuff.
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