Sometimes it’s tough to watch your teenagers make decisions. And
choosing their Friday night friends are no exception! So what do you do
when that time old joke of “Dad waiting up with a shotgun” isn’t that far
from the truth?
Studio 5 Relationship Coach Matt Townsend shares six rules to follow when
your child is dating someone you don’t like.
Rule #1 – Don’t React to the “Love Challenged”
Nobody is more confused about the world and what they really want in
life than someone who is chemically charged with love. Remember that love
is blind. The problem with having a child completely drunk in love is that
they don’t actually know that they are being affected by all of the chemicals
so parents tend to feel a need to intervene to save their child. The only
thing worse than a child who is completely reacting out of their emotions is
a parent who is doing the exact same thing. Then it’s like having two
drunks trying to solve the problems of the world. Somebody has to stay
sober. Somebody has to keep their head about them and it’s probably
going to have to be the parent. Recognize the importance of you staying
centered and in control. Don’t freak out, don’t start lecturing, and don’t
give up and abandon your child. If ever there was a time to have you in the
game, this is it. Here are some more things you can do to keep your wits
about you when your child is losing theirs!
Rule #2 – Remain In Neutral (Not in Drive or Reverse)
All relationships tend to be reactive. If you push on a person who is
reactive, they will naturally push back. If you pull on them, they tend to pull
back. Remember for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction!
The same is true when you’re trying to influence your teen about who they
are dating. If you push too hard against their choice, they will naturally
begin to push back, even if they partially agree with your assessment. That
means the more you act like you don’t like their date and confront them
about it, the more likely they may be to draw closer to that person just to
spite you. Or the more you try to pull them away from the person, the more
likely they are to hold on without even thinking about it. The key with your
teen is to stay neutral about the person they’re dating and wait for the
chemicals to wear off.
Rule #3 – Trust the Stats & the Brats
Of all of the dozens of people you have dated in your life, in the end you
only married one of them. The reality is that most dating relationships end
well before marriage so instead of thinking that your child is going to
marry this horrible person who will never fit into the family and will slowly
suck the life out of you, trust the stats. You can also give a little more
credit to your own child, that they do really want to be successful in life and
don’t want to ruin their life forever. Remember that they are your child,
they’re smart and if you’ve done your job right you really should have
nothing to worry about. Getting overly worried or excited about your child
dating and marrying a difficult person is really not worth it simply based on
the stats that say they won’t and the brat which is as smart as you are.
Rule #4 – Save Your Wisdom for the Willing
Nothing is more useless than giving someone advice when they don’t
care or aren’t willing to hear it. But for some odd reason many parents
overlook that lack of attention and think that by raising their voice or
increasing the frequency of giving advice, eventually their children will want
to listen. The reality is, whether you believe it or not, your kids listen to you
all of the time. The key is to hit them when they’re actually in a listening or
more receptive mode to tell them how you really feel or to share your
pearls of wisdom. A good example of when they might be willing to listen
is when they choose to come to talk to you about their dates. Here are a
few other signs that they might be more open to your feedback.
1.) When they seek you out.
2.) When they bring up the topic.
3.) When they’re choosing to be around their date less.
4.) When they’re sounding more realistic, or normal, about the situation.
5.) When they are making bigger decisions that have a longer impact like
engagement or marriage.
Rule #5 – Share Five Positives to Every One Negative
When your children can see that you have the ability to look past some of
the small flaws with the person they’re dating and see the positive qualities
too, then they’ll begin to trust you more. We trust people who have “whole”
or “complete” perspectives, who don’t immediately judge others and who
can give others the benefit of the doubt. The key to being able to have
more influence with your child is rooted in the belief that they can trust you
and your character. Show your child that you really aren’t blind, ignorant or
evil by sharing five positives about who they’re dating before you share the
one negative. The rule of 5 to 1 means that over time you will see many
positive things that may impact your overall view. It may also mean that
they can believe the one bad trait you bring up simply because you’ve seen
their partner as a complex mix of good and bad traits. Just like every other
human being in the world.
Rule #6 – Slow It Down!
Have you ever heard the phrase that time heals all wounds? Well, time
also kills the weak or afflicted. Time is good either way. Nothing is more
powerful than time to determine what will happen with the relationship.
When it comes to dating, time is always your friend if you will be honest
with yourself and others. Let the couple experience life, let them deal with
their problems, let them have their space and suffer the afflictions of time
which increases opportunities for trials and decreases the potency of love
potions. A good rule is usually to slow down time the best you can and
instead of you saying as much as you do, just let time do most of the work.
For more relationship advice from Matt, attend:
Date Night with Matt Townsend
“Building Your Relationship IQ”
Friday, September 23
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
$35 per couple
Location: Noah’s in South Jordan