I have a 15 year old daughter and it scares me to think that she is at that age where she shows a lot of interest in the opposite sex. On the onset of her adolescence I had to deal a lot with her irrational emotional outbursts and rebellious behavior which have since subsided a bit but now dating! Now I can't stop thinking of all the ways I can find to protect my little girl from the real world of dating. My instinct all the time is try to discourage her from such interest but I know I can't from my own experience as a teenager. I learnt that whatever I was discouraged was the one thing that I wanted to do and prove to the parent that it had no harm. Each time she is on the phone or delays coming back from school I am like 'she must be with some boy' and my heart skips a bit. When I was growing up dating issues were taboo and could not be discussed with parents in the African culture but now I think it's time we parents remove such barriers and help our teenagers with dating issues although it's not always welcome as teens think they know it all.

Contrary to what you may think your teen maybe as nervous of their first date as you so you need to give parental advice and set dating guidelines right from the beginning so that you both know what roles you ought to play. Some of the guidelines are but not limited to the following. I think for any teen that is below the age of 16 then group dating is appropriate it would ensure that all do the same activities and not waylaid in any way. Below 16 teens maybe mature in some way but still children and very much need guidance and not be misled by peer pressure. Teens below 16 so much want to do what they are told not to do and so as parents you need to trod carefully otherwise your teen will become rebellious. After 16 years, teens may be allowed to date alone but as a parent you need to have a say on the age of the person that your child will date. It is highly inappropriate to have a 16 year old dating a 21 year old their interests and expectations on dating and relationships would be way different.

Your way of life as a parent and your relationships will definitely have an influence on your teen's dates and relations. It is always important for parents or partners to treat each other with love and respect so that teens find a role models. On your teen's date insist on meeting the date before they go out so that you get to judge for yourself and either approve or disprove, whatever the verdict let your teen know it. Your daughter has to know that she is to be picked from and dropped back home rather than at some street corner or even sneak out at night probably through the window. The boy teen has to do the same to his date. Although entitled to their own privacy make it a point that you discuss the date with your teen on where they are taking each other, when they will be back and what kind of activities will they be doing and with whom. You may meet some resistance from the teens or even get to be told lies but it is important because once they know what is expected of them teens will open up and there will not be anything to hide in the long run. You are going to end up with an open relationship and your teen will be free to discuss any issues with you which will be your chance to keep giving advice. You also need to agree on a curfew and insist that your teen sticks to it or risk the consequences that you will need to discuss.

As with most parents there is this temptation to want to find out what is happening and if everything is okay. Be warned don't phone in between the date otherwise you would embarrass your child and even create tension between yourselves later. Trust your teen enough to let them handle the date well. To set your mind at ease it is essential to discuss about sex, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and morality way before your child starts dating such that you will be rest assured that they know about the dangers and have adequate knowledge to make the right and informed decisions. No all of us parents are comfortable with these issues so you can ask an aunt or uncle or school authorities or counselor 's help.

Most important whether you had approved of the relationship or not be there for your child because as with any relationship there are ups and downs they would need a shoulder to cry on or just an ear to listen. Be sure to be there to offer your support and continuous advice, in that way your teen would know he/she has someone to count on which would bring you closer. Ensure all the time your teen goes out that they have adequate airtime and cash in case they end up in a difficult situation like car breakdown or get dumped or some other mishap then they are assured to phone or get home safely.