Adolescent Flirting and Dating
Your teenager, like any other, is going to have questions about the emotions and behavior that developing maturity gives rise to. These subjects may be hard for you to talk about, but if you're not comfortable discussing them, be sure your teenager can talk to someone—an older brother, sister, or cousin; an aunt or uncle, a counselor. Help your son or daughter pick up on the little things that go on in social situations, such as:
"He's flirting with you—you can tell by the sound of his voice."
"Why does she giggle when you talk to her? I think it's because she likes you and she's a little self-conscious about it. And she doesn't know if you feel the same way."
- "Teenage boys sometimes whistle and yell at girls on the street because they like them. They just haven't learned yet how to show it without acting silly. Don't be upset, just ignore them—they'll stop soon enough."
- "Don't be embarrassed that you dropped some food on your blouse. Be glad someone told you so you could wipe it off. You can always ask your friends to let you know if there's something you need to fix—a spot of dirt on your cheek, a leaf caught in your hair, or an untied shoelace."
Once upon a time girls waited to be asked for a date. Today, both boys and girls are likely to do the asking, and often they go out in a group rather than as a couple. But if your teenager wants to go out with someone alone, imagine how hard it is for a visually impaired youngster to ask for a date when he or she can't see facial expressions or body language to judge whether or not the other person is interested. Once your daughter or son gets up the courage to ask and the answer is yes, there's still another hurdle—having to say something like "Great, can you pick me up?" or "I'll pick you up. My dad will drive us."
Privacy and independence are hard to come by when you have to rely on others. But you can give your teenager a perspective on the issue: "Yes, there are some things you will always need help with, but that doesn't mean that people are going to like you less. You have friends who enjoy being with you and doing things with you. You are going to have romantic friends who feel the same way about you."