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Young teens have especially fragile egos, so negative peer feedback on social media can be especially damaging.Kids today don’t plunge into dating without first going through the “talking to each other” phase.Yes, the prom as we knew it still exists, but even its drama pales in comparison to today’s boy-girl relationship issues.“It’s not your parents’ dating anymore,” concedes Robin Gurwitch, a clinical psychologist at the Duke Center for Child and Family Health.Most experts and parents consulted for this article say group “dates” to the mall, movies or even a friend’s house are fine as long as they’re supervised, even if it means just being in the same shopping center.Ed Parrish, a banker and father of four from Graham, has noticed that his 13-year-old son has started asking his older sister if her friend’s younger sister can join her on visits to the Parrish home. Sometimes, his son will go to the movies with guy friends and “meet up” with a group of girls from school, Parrish says.This is a prime opportunity to find out what they find appropriate and desirable in a romantic partner, says Crystal Reardon, director of counseling for Wake County Public School System. You have to respect your children’s feelings but also want to help keep them safe.” What to watch for: Girls usually don’t want to bring someone they’re just talking to home to their parents, say both Megan and Jennifer, so be prepared for some flak if you insist.
This can mean discussing your family’s views on sex before marriage, as well as frank talk about abstinence, birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.Case in point: There’s a myth in teen circles that you can’t get STDs from oral sex, Gurwitch notes.She says as cringe-inducing as this conversation will be, it has to get done. “There’s something about not sitting next to each other on a couch that makes this easier for both you and your child.” Just because teens are more casual and sophisticated about dating doesn’t mean they don’t still suffer heartbreak.Of course, kids who already have relationships — and even some still in the talking phase — will go with that special person, but still as part of a group. If that’s the case, the only thing you can do is offer support and perhaps plan a trip or outing for that night.To college students, hooking up means having casual sex.