Your eighth -grade son is in his first toxic dating relationship. Hooray! Let's talk about
that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist,
and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families to live happier lives. I lead two organizations,
Teen Therapy Center and the non -profit 501c3 organization, Child and teen counseling, both
here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer
your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. My eighth -grade son has been dating a troubled
girl for eight months. Within weeks of dating, she began making comments intended to isolate
him from family and friends. As the months have gone on, the depth of her manipulation has become
clear to us. But in his eyes, she can do no wrong. He seems to know that she suffers from depression,
but I'm not sure he really understands what that means. Whenever we try to discuss their relationship,
he gets angry and blows
up at us. We're concerned he's been sucked into her dysfunction and unable to make healthy decisions.
We're not sure what to do next. Any help would be welcome. Thank you for your question. This is
a tough one, because I don't have easy answers for you. First of all, I want to help you understand
and why this is so important to him. I assume he's 13 or 14, somewhere around there. This is probably
his first deep love he's ever felt, and it's stronger than anything he's ever experienced in
his life. He feels important, he feels valued, he feels powerful, because in his mind, he has
the ability to save her. He can impact her happiness or sadness. I'm not saying any of this is
healthy, but I'm kind of giving you a window into the mindset of a 13, 14 year old boy who's dating
someone in this kind of situation. All I know about this girl is through what you're saying.
So let's assume, let's take everything on the level of what has been said in the question. You're
not going to convince him that
she's unhealthy for him. You're just not. You have to let him come to this on his own. And keep
in mind, and rest assured, this relationship will end. There are not many people who fall in
love in grade and are together for 60 years. And if they are, they're usually pretty healthy
relationships. The unhealthy ones, this will not last. I'm not saying it's gonna be easy. It's
probably gonna be painful, but this will end. So we're playing for the long game of when this
relationship ends. And the more he has felt supported, the less he's felt judged, the easier
it will be when this relationship falls apart that he can come back to you because he knows that
you're safe and you're going to love him and embrace him. If he perceives you are being critical,
judgmental, anything you say against this girl, no matter how right you are, he's going to interpret
that as, I need to protect her, I need to be the knight on the horse with the sword, and you're the
dragon, and I need to fight you to protect
the honor of, you know, the maiden fair. And I think it's really important to just keep map boundaries.
You know, if he needs to be in read by 10 o 'clock and not have the phone in his room, that boundary
still needs to happen. Even if he says, if I don't talk to her, she's going to commit suicide,
for example, because I've had clients who've had these experiences and the dating partner
can say that sometimes, right? That doesn't mean he should have his phone. That means he still
needs to do his homework. That means he still needs to do his extracurriculars. Encourage him
to see his friends. You can't force him to, but keep him on some kind of track. It's not about the
girlfriends, about the things he has to do in his life. He can't throw everything else away.
Now, he's gonna fight this. And if it's getting really, really bad, you may wanna consult with
an adolescent therapist who can help him process through this. There's nothing easy about
this. And those of you who say, oh, this is why
teenagers shouldn't date. If you stop them dating, they're gonna date behind your back. Dating
happens, and it's been happening since, you know, before history. Teenagers will date. Not
every teenager. And actually dating has gone down with the advent of social media and video
games But teenagers still gonna date so keep being supportive keep offering him love and acceptance
Even when he pushes you away Still be there for him If you think he's in way over his head and other
things are crumbling get him into therapy You know, I think that would could be helpful. But
also it's it's planning for the end of the relationship I don't know if it's next week or next
year, but this relationship will end, prepare for that, make sure that you have a safe path for
him back to you. If you feel that he is falling under footsteps and being very toxic to himself,
if you feel he's getting suicidal or whatever, again, consult with a therapist and get help.
That's our question for today. Again, there's nothing
easy about this and it's going to be a marathon, it's going to be arduous, but it's keeping your
eye on down the line. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint. This is Tips on Teens. If you like these
questions, you can always join our Facebook group called Tips on Teens, so it goes into your
feed. If you have a question you'd like to ask me, our email is tipsonteens at teentherapycenter
.com. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint. This is Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit Child
and team counseling. And we will see you guys next Wednesday on Facebook Live. Bye -bye.
YOUR TEEN’S FIRST BAD RELATIONSHIP
What do you do when your kid gets into their first toxic teenage relationship? For you as a parent this can feel like the world you know is crumbling to pieces. You may fear that your child is drifting away down a self destructive path, or that you can no longer protect them. These feelings are completely natural, but we urge you to play the long game instead.
IT’S A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
If you’re terrified of your kid getting hurt, or that you will lose them as they come under the influence of a toxic boyfriend or girlfriend, remember this: it will end. Very few relationships that start in 8th grade will last. The most important thing is to be there for your child when their toxic teenage relationship is over. We want our child to come to us when they’re hurting, and we do that by avoiding judgment and offering love and acceptance, even when we know they may be traveling down the wrong path. You’re not going to convince your lovestruck teen, you have to let him or her come to the conclusion on their own.
There are no easy answer, but we talk about it in this Tips on Teens:
“My 8th-grade son has been dating a troubled girl for 8 months. Within weeks of dating, she began making comments intended to isolate him from family and friends. As the months have gone on, the depth of her manipulation has become clear to us, but in his eyes, she can do no wrong. He seems to know that she suffers from depression, but I’m not sure he really understands what that means. Whenever we try to discuss their relationship he gets angry and blows up at us. We’re concerned he’s been sucked into her dysfunction and unable to make healthy decisions. We’re not sure what to do next. Any help would be welcome.”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.