“Teenagers fall in love at the drop of a hat,” says Meg Hickling, author of The New Speaking of Sex. After 30 years of travelling the world as a sexual-health educator, Vancouver-based Hickling says she’s learned that most teenagers don’t understand that love takes time.
So while they need some guidance, talking to teens about love can be tricky. Here are some suggestions from the experts on how to approach the topic:
- Control your anxiety as your teenagers enter into relationships. Too much worry makes it hard to listen and empathize.
- Share your own teenage experiences with love, sex and relationships. It helps teens to feel that their often-confusing feelings are normal.
- Create comfortable spaces and times for talking. Eat dinner with your teens frequently, go out together for a cup of coffee, open up during a drive to a soccer game or dance practice, attend concerts together, knit or read in a place in your home that welcomes Interruptions.
- Watch TV or movies together, then share your interpretations of what you’ve viewed.
- Avoid pontificating or judging.
- Ask open-ended questions such as: “How are you doing? How are you doing with your friends? How are you doing with your relationships? Do you feel close to people? How do you feel when you’re around him/her? What feels good about the relationship? What doesn’t feel good?”
- Be a model of a responsible, respectful, caring relationship in your own life.