Teenagers already have a pretty good idea about flirting, so this article is written as a sort of crash course for parents. We will look at flirting in teenage dating, what it means, what you can expect, and setting ground rules for what you consider appropriate behavior.
While it may be fairly easy to recognize that teens like to test boundaries, it's easy to forget that they are often anxious about growing up. They look at the people around them–friends, celebrities, and yes, parents–to get an idea of how they should behave. The funny thing is that your teen may not even be aware that they are mimicking the behavior of other people. Either way, you can use this fact to help them navigate the world of teenage dating, and that includes flirting.
It's important to try to see things from their point of view, but to also remember that you are the parent. Your teen may act like they don't want to hear anything you have to say about flirting in teenage dating, but you have to trust that the message gets through on some level. Some of the conversations may be incredibly awkward and difficult, but they still need to be had.
A good starting point is to talk about what flirting means to you, and what it means to them. You may be relieved to learn that your definitions are basically the same, or you may be shocked at how different they are. Whatever the case may be, it's important to maintain your composure while having conversations with your teenager. If you get upset about anything they say, then they will be less likely to talk to you in the future. Take some to process things after the conversation, and then give them a response after you have thought about it for a while.
You need to think carefully about what is acceptable flirting behavior is and what isn't and then let your teen know what the limits are. For example, most people would agree that flirting stops as soon as physicality begins. Once two people touch, it is no longer flirting. That may be a good limit, but what about an innocent touch on the back of the hand or elbow? What about brushing the hair from someone's face? When it comes to flirting in teenage dating, you can be sure that your teen will be happy to find loopholes in your limits, so be sure to cover as much as you can. At the same time, you shouldn't have to cover every single possibility.
There are two other major points that you should discuss: peer pressure and self-esteem. Generally speaking, the more self-esteem your teen has, the less likely they are to succumb to peer pressure; however it doesn't make them completely immune. Let them know that they shouldn't feel pressured to start dating. Also, remind them that flirting is usually harmless, but that either person may think it means something else. As a parent, it's your duty to discuss all of these things as they relate to flirting in teenage dating.