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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    When to Step In: A Parent's Guide to Protecting an Innocent Teen from a Too Grown Up Girlfriend

    Navigating teenage relationships isn’t easy. It can be especially difficult when it seems your son’s first girlfriend may be too grown up for him. Should you step in,or is this a situation they have to figure out on their own?

    It’s natural to have worries and fears about your son’s relationships. But before you start to intervene, it’s important to consider what stage of the relationship your son is in. Is he attracted to this adult-like girl, or is his interest more platonic?

    If the two are just starting out and the relationship is beginning to bloom, it’s best to speak with your son about your concerns. Talk to him about the age difference and make sure he understands the potential outcomes of such a relationship. Explain that although this older girl may be charming and fun, there can also be risks involved. It’s essential that he’s aware of these risks so he can make an informed decision.

    If your son is already in the relationship, it's important to make sure there’s healthy boundaries between the two. Make sure your son hasn’t been coerced into doing anything he's uncomfortable with. Make it a priority to ensure he’s safe, emotionally and physically at all times.

    If the relationship becomes serious, it may be helpful to create a “family code of conduct”. Set rules and boundaries that must be followed by everyone involved. This gives your son an opportunity to have a voice in the relationship while still maintaining a level of parental control.

    You can also encourage your son to build social circles outside of the relationship. Help him to reach out to friends, whether that’s at school, church or other activities. Remind him that his friends will be able to provide guidance, support and much-needed distraction.

    If you feel like the relationship is unhealthy or your son is not happy, it's time for you to take control. Remind him of the boundaries and expectations that were established when the relationship began, and make sure he knows that you will always be willing to listen. Offer words of encouragement while gently reminding him that his safety and wellbeing are your primary concern.

    If the relationship continues down a negative path, don't hesitate to step in and set straight the boundaries you've set previously. Explain that you won't tolerate any abuse or manipulation and that the relationship must end if either party is not getting their needs met.

    All parents want to protect their children from harm. But as they grow, our job is to help them make wise decisions and trust themselves rather than controlling their choices. If your son's first girlfriend is too grown up for him, talk to him openly and try your best to give him the skills and guidance he needs to navigate the complexities of teenage relationships.

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