Fellow parents, let’s take a minute to address our big emotions. We’re grieving the closure of childhood; excited that there may be an upcoming date; worried that they won’t behave maturely; stressed that they won’t respect all of our boundaries; concerned that hearts will be broken; anxious about their safety; not to mention we’re unsure if we’ve taught our teens all of the nuances of dating.
Deep breath. Let’s face this head-on.
Preparing Your Teen for Dating
First, if your teen is interested in dating, that’s exciting! That’s normal, as is your teen not yet wanting to date.
Whether your teen was just asked on a Valentine’s date or is considering asking a valentine to be his/her date… help your child think through the following.
You, parents, have to decide appropriate boundaries for your teen. Consider if you only want him or her to go on a group date; where are appropriate locations; when is curfew; does an adult need to drive or are you okay if your teen rides in the car of another teen?
Next, review Friendship in the Teen Years and Flirting and Dating.
The two articles address:
- Helping your teen make friends and build connections with others.
- Orientation and mobility skills needed for dates. [Talk about motivation to practice O&M!]
- Age-appropriate dating.
- How to teach flirting.
- Addressing personal safety issues.
- Helping your teenager develop self-esteem.
- Using passersby and movie characters to discuss body language and displays of affection.
- Providing realistic feedback about social skills.
Lastly, talk with your teen about:
- How one chooses who to date.
- How to ask another on a date, accept a request for dating, and deny a request.
- How to handle the emotions of not getting asked on a date or having a request denied.
- How one chooses a date location. Your teen may want to familiarize himself with the location or activity before the date.
- The importance of good manners and good grooming.
- Use of assistive technology and tricks for independent ordering (even if it’s asking the server, “What do you recommend on the menu?”)
- The similarities and differences of friendship and dating.
- The importance of consensual physical affection.
- Personal boundaries and how to say, “No.”
- How to leave a date if not comfortable.
What would you add to our discussion? We would all love to hear!
Resources About Dating for Your Visually Impaired Teen
NFB’s “About Dating, Blindness, and the Little Things of Life”