Love can be very confusing, and it’s helpful for your teen to understand the different types of love. They need to know that family love is unconditional while romantic love is passionate and that, in long-term relationships, love becomes a combination of the two.
Here’s how to help your teen sort out feelings of romantic love so they can have healthy relationships.
Share with your teen that family love is unconditional, long-lasting, and encouraging. You may be in a family that does not fit the ideal, but the love your teen feels for family and friends should be a positive experience. Discuss with your teen that having some turbulent times is a normal part of adolescence, as they separate from their parents and learn how to be an independent adult.
Ask your teen how they would describe romantic love. It is usually passionate, sexual, conditional, unplanned, fleeting, and unpredictable. Romantic love has a lot to do with chemicals and hormones. Our bodies want us to find people that complement our genes. At the same time, desire can fool your teen into thinking they are in love.
Being in Love
Discuss with your teen that friendships help establish trust, which is a good start to romance. Ask your teen what they would do if they were responsible for a pregnancy or contracted an STI. If your teen finds themselves in a physical relationship, but they aren’t sure about the person, they might want to reconsider the relationship.
Talk with your teen about how in any healthy relationship, love should not hurt and tell a trusted adult who can find a place to get help and support (for both the abuser and the abused).
Treat your teen’s relationships seriously. Remember when you were a teen? We all fall in and out of love throughout our lives. Understanding the difference between family and romantic love will help your teen navigate their feelings in romantic relationships.
Amy Lang, MA, is a sexuality and parenting educator. Her goal is to help every kid grow up to be whole and healthy adults by teaching parents of all beliefs how to rock the sex talks. Amy is the author of Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs To Know to Date, Relate or Wait, available now on Amazon. Visit BirdsAndBeesAndKids.com to learn how to take the STING out of the Birds + Bees talks.