What Parents of Young Teens Need to Know About Crushes

As a mom to an adult daughter, I am no stranger to the phenomena of having a crush. Oh, I can remember the whole experience…. the ups, the downs, the laughter, and the tears.

As the parent of a young teen, it’s important that we know how to deal with a crush when it happens because it’s a normal part of adolescence.  Love…. there’s nothing like it.

Teenage crushes are a normal experience during adolescence. There are generally two kinds of crushes – identity crushes and romantic crushes. In both cases, the teen is captivated by a person and wants their attention. These feelings can be very powerful for a teenager, and it’s important for parents to understand this as they go through this experience.

Crushes can, though, cause problems with your teen. They might become so fixated on their crush that it can affect their schoolwork. They might forgo their friends to spend time with their crush and some teens will drop out of after school activities to focus their energy on their first love. While these are matters of concern, a parent must be more concerned that their teen, or the crush, does not develop an obsessive love. When teens begin to act in irresponsible ways, it may be time for some intervention.  Here’s how to help and support a teen experiencing a crush.

  1. Open the lines of communication. Seek to understand what your child likes about the other person. What draws them to them. What things do they like to do together?  Encourage your child to invite their crush over to hang out with your family.
  2. Establish dating rules for your teen. Dating rules might sound old-fashioned, but there is a good reason for them as the protect our children and the person they are dating. For example, our rule at our house was that our teens could not be at home without an adult present. Nor were they allowed to go into their bedroom alone.  While your teen will probably complain about these rules, “You don’t trust me,” your response should be simple and to the point. “it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I understand temptation. It’s a powerful emotion. And it’s better to not put yourself in the path of temptation. That protects everybody.”
  3. Encourage group dates. Group dates can be a lot of fun, as well as a safe environment for interaction.
  4. Establish clear boundaries when it comes to texting and online communication. Once you post a picture or text online it is there forever. Even if you use snapchat. Educate your child on the importance of their online reputation for their future college or career hunt and how important it is to protect that reputation. What happens if you send a photo or a message to your love in trust but the that person shares the message. or their phone gets stolen by their bratty little brother and he shares your messages to the world. Better to be safe than sorry by not sending any texts, images or messages that you wouldn’t want the world to see.

There are many more rules than parents can establish when it comes to crushes.  Work with your teen to set some boundaries that are appropriate for them and your family. Keep the lines of communication open.  Crushes can be the best of times or the worst of times, but for sure they will be a growing experience for your child and your family.

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