Parents guide to teen dating

But it's important to make a (somewhat artificial) distinction between puberty and adolescence.

Most of us think of puberty as the development of adult sexual characteristics: breasts, menstrual periods, pubic hair, and facial hair.

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" Looking for a roadmap to find your way through these years? Expect some mood changes in your typically sunny child, and be prepared for more conflict as he or she matures as an individual.Parents who know what's coming can cope with it better. Starting to talk about menstruation or wet dreams after they've already begun is starting too late.So, although it can be a period of conflict between parent and child, the teen years are also a time to help kids grow into the distinct individuals they will become. Everybody's different — there are early bloomers, late arrivers, speedy developers, and slow-but-steady growers.In other words, there's a wide range of what's considered normal.If teenagers want to dye their hair, paint their fingernails black, or wear funky clothes, think twice before you object.

Teens want to shock their parents and it's a lot better to let them do something temporary and harmless; save your objections for things that really matter, like tobacco, drugs and alcohol, or permanent changes to their appearance.

As teens mature, they start to think more abstractly and rationally. And parents of teens may find that kids who previously had been willing to conform to please them will suddenly begin asserting themselves — and their opinions — strongly and rebelling against parental control.

You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teen to be an individual and ask yourself questions such as: "Am I a controlling parent? ," and "Do I allow my teen's opinions and tastes to differ from my own? Remember your struggles with acne or your embarrassment at developing early — or late.

At the same time, kids this age are increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and are desperately trying to fit in.

Their peers often become much more important than parents as far as making decisions.

If you don't know the answers, get them from someone who does, like a trusted friend or your pediatrician. You can hear when your child's starting to tell jokes about sex or when attention to personal appearance is increasing.