Does Your Ideal Relationship Match Up With Your Child’s?

Mon, 2014-01-06 08:43 � nosman

You only want the best for your child. Yet sometimes, as your child is growing up, they make decisions you’re not necessarily proud of (dying their hair green) or even understand (dying their hair green?). Then once they begin dating, all bets are off — if you forbid them from being with their chosen partner, they’ll resent you for it. However, you may not love their new partner as much as they do because your relationship ideals are different from theirs.

What’s an Ideal Partner?

People fall in love – yes, including your child – for a myriad of reasons, but why people stay together usually boils down to finding someone who shares a specific set of qualities that’s meaningful to them. While there are plenty of examples of teenage love that seem to be based only on looks, charm or success within their social circle, there are certain characteristics that keep a couple together.

Perhaps they feel more adult and their partner possesses a level of maturity not seen among their peers, or their partner is honest and lives with integrity, which build trust. Their partner may be open about their life and willing to share a piece of themselves they don’t share with others, or they treat your child with respect and recognize each other’s unique goals and priorities. Maybe they share a similar sense of humor, which makes each other want to be around the other. And with emotions running high during adolescence, your child may feel their partner understands what they’re going through and empathizes with their problems. Plus, never forget the power of physical affection, even with something as simple as holding hands or kissing.

Your Idea of an Ideal Partner

Although all the qualities listed above sound great, you may not see this in your child’s partner. Maybe you want them to date someone popular, or someone you don’t identify with a “negative” label, such as a “slacker,” a “burnout,” a “nerd” or a “freak.” Don’t judge your child’s choices and keep in mind that they are different from you and what you might have chosen for a partner at their age. By laying down the law on who they can date, you may just drive them further into their partner’s arms.

For you, the stakes are higher because the bond with their partner could threaten your relationship. Moreover, you want your child’s life to go a certain way, and you want to protect them from the mistakes you’ve made. Yet they need to make their own experiences, including mistakes. Avoid demeaning their partner, but just wait and see how it goes. The best thing you can do is be supportive of the relationship and let them come to their own conclusions, whether for better or worse. This also lets your child know that the lines of communication between you and them are open, no matter the situation.

When Their Partner is Less Than Ideal

There’s a big difference between healthy relationship behavior – hanging out, talking about their feelings, trusting each other – and unhealthy behaviors. Keep an eye out for warning signs that your child’s relationship may be unhealthy or abusive.

Do they have unexplained marks or bruises on their face or body? Are they withdrawn, or have they quit doing things they once loved? Does their partner always ask where they are or where they are going? Do your child’s friends think the relationship is strange, or have they expressed concern to you?

Abuse comes in all kinds of forms, including physical, verbal, emotional and digital. Let your child know if there is abuse going on that it is not their fault. You can help your child in an abusive relationship by paying attention, listening and letting them know you’re on their side. If you think your child may be in danger, develop a safety plan. Your ideal relationship may not match up perfectly with your child’s, but no one deserves abuse.