What Should It Look Like?
By Kymberly Breckenridge
Illustrated by Tatyana Starikova/span>
I shudder at the idea of my daughter dating and want to stop it from happening at all costs. How can I protect her from the inevitable pain and suffering that accompanies love? Ironically, romantic love can be a valuable way for teens to discover who they are, what they value and what they want out of life. And even I, a mother with young children, understand that if I say something is off limits they will want it even more.
Dr. Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, explains that adolescence is a natural time when the child moves from dependence on their parents to dependence on friends. Teens are internally driven to seek change and novelty, a push for the unfamiliar and even the uncertain, a process they must go through if they’re ever going to get out of the house. Teens begin to seek attachment with peers as a way to receive attention and care from a nonparent, and we as adults need to honor this adolescent process. Dr. Wyndol Furman, a professor of psychology at the University of Denver, finds that romantic relationships can also be significant sources of support that offer teenagers fun and companionship, help them forge mature identities and give them practice in managing emotions.