You suspect that your 13-year-old has dating on the brain, but he won’t open up to you about it. At all.
If he isn’t filling you in on his love life, that’s pretty normal. It’s also perfectly normal for you to be curious. As long as he has been schooled in sexual health, there’s no need to come at him like a detective. Instead, casually let him know that you’re here in case he wants to talk. “It’s great when moms say, ‘Remember, I was a girl once, so I have some feedback if you ever want it,’” says Hemmen. “At this age, many sons find that somewhat humorous and start identifying Mom as a possible resource.”
You should also be checking his social-media use—not to pinpoint his latest crush, but just to make sure that all his online interactions (romantic or otherwise) are appropriate. “Parents need to be involved at this age because younger teens have terrible judgment and a false sense of bravery and anonymity online,” says Hemmen. (That is, it’s not uncommon for them to post bikini-clad photographs or to message one another with lewd pickup lines.) You might feel overbearing, but 46 percent of 10- to 23-year-olds said that they would change their online behavior if they knew that their parents were paying attention, according to a 2013 study by the online security company McAfee. If you see something risqué pop up in his feed, address it in person.
Your daughter is in her room crying. Some guy broke her heart.
Even if she has the door closed and her headphones on, touch base. Start the conversation by validating how she feels. Breakups are tough, especially if you haven’t been through one before. And even if her tears seem blown out of proportion to you (they were dating only, what, a month?), don’t minimize her emotions. “It’s natural and developmentally appropriate for her to have huge feelings about a breakup,” says Hemmen. Encourage her to talk. And if she doesn’t want to confide in you, “don’t take it personally,” says Hemmen. “Say, ‘I get it. Breakups are really hard, and I’m here for you.’” Then suggest going for a walk or to a movie, or mention others whom she can call, like a close friend or a trusted relative.