What Are Your Kids Learning About Love, Dating and Relationships?
I remember having a group of friends over one night when my parents were out for the evening. We found some porn videos in my parent’s night stand, an old bottle of vodka in the bar and had ourselves a little party. We were smart enough to add water to the half empty vodka bottle and put those videos back exactly how they were found. Truth is my mom would not have cared all that much if we got caught! She was always opened to talking about sex at anytime! She was a bit on the wild side and everyone seemed to love that about her, including some of my boyfriends. My Flintstone vitamins turned into birth control pills the day I hit puberty, she answered any questions about sex without reservation and I pretty much knew all I needed to know before the experiences actually happened.
Many parents are willing to talk about sex and even health class teaches them how to roll a condom over a banana. But does anyone really teach their kids about finding a happy, healthy relationship? I have seen so many wrong messages sent to kids these days! I am not blaming parents in any way! We can only teach what we have been taught and cycles are very hard to break! Hopefully this blog can help!
Here are some examples of things I have seen and what messages they are sending to our children.
1. There are actually parents who have committed to the “18 year plan”. I still can’t believe they have a term for this “18 year plan”. This basically means that they have agreed to stay until the child is off to college. As if this is the best thing for the kid. I know the marriage may not be that bad! I some cases no one is cheating or beating but the basic love and passion is gone. Perhaps in some ways these kids are protected from bouncing back and forth to two homes and having to divide holidays between parents but there is still a price to pay. Kids who are raised in a home where there is an abusive or loveless marriage are taught to accept that this is normal and they will likely repeat the same pattern. Not always but if you start to explore this a little more you will be shocked.
2. I have heard many parents claim they rarely have sex because they are afraid the kids might detect that is what is going on. In other words if they go to bed a little early they fear the kids will think they might be having sex. I have to ask these parents…so what? As long as you aren’t walking around half naked there is nothing wrong with a child knowing that the parents have sex. You can be discrete. Close the door, wait until they are into a movie or focused on their own thing. If kid never sees their parents hug, flirt or show some affection to each other they may believe it is a shameful thing. Now I am not referring to groping your spouse or even having a romantic kiss. But sharing a compliment, engaging in a hug or a wink is demonstrating that it is ok to be affectionate.
3. I frequently meet parents who brag about their child having a boyfriend or girlfriend. They seem to think their child is more valuable for having a relationship, which is entirely untrue. If you are constantly asking your child about who they are dating, following up with their relationship drama and getting overly involved with their love life you are sending a message that being in a relationship is far more important than it really is. This will only make them more likely to stay in an unhappy situation far longer than intended. I remember when I was 19 and I dated a complete lunatic. He was abusive in every way! Whenever I tried to tell my parents about this they would dismiss his behavior and claim that he was in love with me and it would work out. I kept going back to him hoping this was true! Truth is I hated him and needed my parents to open their eyes and encourage me to run like hell, which I eventually did on my own. Again, not blaming parents…just think it is important to look closely at these situations!
4. There are other parents who continually tell their children not to worry about dating. They make jokes and say things like “girls are trouble” or “you have your whole adult life to worry about relationships”. Although some of this is true, the message you are sending your child is that you are not available for them to come to you with their dating issues. And if they don’t go to you I can tell you exactly where they are going to go…the school bus, their friends, the internet and facebook! You want to keep the lines of communication open as you have got to be a better resource than the options I just listed.
5. Technology is changing the way these kids date! SET THE LIMITS! If you allow them to have facebook you need to monitor what they are posting. I don’t care if your child claims the inappropriate post is just part of a song they love. If it is not appropriate it doesn’t matter if it is a song lyric or a personal thought. It is sending a message about them if they have posted it! And texting is out of control. I often pick my son up at middle school and these kids all walk with their necks bent over as they text 50 words a minute. They don’t know that sexting pictures is illegal and dangerous. They don’t realize how available and unattractive it can look when they are texting their boyfriend every two seconds and they need to have some limits set.
6. Always talk to your kids with respect. If you get angry and call them names, insult, verbally or physically abuse them they will believe that this is what they are worthy of.
We all hope our kids will find true love one day and have a happy healthy family! It starts now! Our children are like sponges and although we may not realize the messages we are sending them, they are hearing them loud and clear! Just be aware of what you are teaching them as it can make all the difference!