Teenage crush and Parents’ role: To accept it or dismiss it
Created by Shikha Batra Updated on Jan 02, 2021
“Mom, I think my classmate has a crush on me, what do you think I should do?” asks Suhana from her mother.
“Two of our seventh graders were expelled from school when rumours of their fling went viral and they became the talk of the school.” says Aditi to her colleague.
The above mentioned anecdotes are examples of teenagers having a crush on their classmates and for them their feelings are very real and important. Crush for them means true love which makes it one of the major concerns of parents as they feel due to these light hearted affairs their teen face difficulty in handling school and these infatuations become a distraction in achieving their personal goals and lead to underachievement as well.
So after knowing about your teenager having a crush, is it time to hit the panic button?
Well, not at all! It’s time for parents to understand teenage crushes are for real and getting attracted to someone doesn’t make them immoral.
What exactly is a crush?
Crush is defined as a brief but intense infatuation for someone, especially someone inappropriate or unattainable. Crushes are usually short lived and they come and go in a matter of months. It has got more to do with fantasy than reality. Crushes tells more about the admirer than the admired as they wear off in a relatively short span of time. They have such momentary power only because of the idealization woven around it. First crush is usually special as it is the beginning to understand how it feels to like another person. The memories of this crush stays with you for life. Durban child Psychologist Anneline van der Westhuizen explains that children will typically start “pairing up” from about 10 or so, but it could be younger as well. “Kids are influenced by media images more than ever and are now more sophisticated now than we were. Don’t be surprised to learn that your 8-year old has a crush on a boy”. The Edge of seventeen, The Perks, Mean girls, 10 Things I Hate about You, Almost Famous are some of the most remarkable movies based on teenage crushes.
How should parents react when they get to know about their teen’s crush?
Crushes are very normal and a healthy part of human experience. Getting to know about your teenager’s crush should not send you in a spin rather being considerate and gentle in your approach towards them would do the trick. On the contrary being harsh or strict and showing anger for having such feelings will only make them act in the opposite way. It’s important for parents to be aware of what is going on in their teen’s life. And of course they have a right to be concerned about them and also remind them time and again about the age-appropriate boundaries. However it’s also important to keep in mind how these limitations are being communicated to their teen. Holding one-on-one discussions with them and being subtle and considerate in your approach would go a long way in making your teen listen to you and even follow the advice.
How can parents deal with it?
As parents we choose to just focus on our child’s future and expect him/her to concentrate on the same too. We want them to divert all their attention and energies to academics which would determine their value in society as an adult. And we assume that we send them to school to prepare them for their life ahead and not for their romantic link ups. However we tend to forget that we have been-there and done-that probably ourselves too and also that be it academics, their thoughts and feelings , their crushes , it’s everything that matters especially when it comes to their sexuality as well as identity development besides other developmental changes. Probably only after keeping all these factors in mind, schools have begun imparting sex education to their students.
Because a romantic crush is so intensely felt, parents must not take it lightly or make fun of it. It may provoke a lot of anxiety in the teeanger as due to awakening of romantic feelings, the teenager is often confused and questions herself/himself “ Are these feelings for real?’, “ What am I supposed to do with these feelings?”, “ Should I reveal these feelings or they should be kept a secret?” “ Should I tell this person about my crush?” “What if he/she rejects my proposal and makes fun of me?” There is always a fear of being rejected and facing embarrassment. So , it’s not easy to manage a crush and in such circumstances if parents are also not supportive or fail to understand their teenager and are found to be judgemental, strict and conditional, there is likelihood that the teen might refrain from sharing information with them in future.
Some of the ways to deal with teenage crush would include:
Accept that teenage romance is for real and inevitable.
Communicate with your teen and make them comfortable by sharing about your own life and thoughts with them.
Avoid being judgemental.
Do not dismiss their feelings as unimportant or wrong.
Its never too late to talk about sex so muster some courage to talk about unprotected sex and its repercussions.
Your child has made the choice, accept it irrespective of their gender, caste or religion.
Help the child to feel comfortable in their skin and decide how they want this relationship to progress rather than do what is decreed by their peer group under peer pressure.
Help them move on if they face a heartbreak by distracting them with their interests which can help them tide over it.
As young adults we too have experienced such feelings. Times were different then and things which were forbidden earlier have become casual today. Our role as parents is to stand back and give them all the support they need as this is the need of the hour. Our reactions are very important for our children. So, we should try not to blow it out of proportion by being melodramatic, rather we should try and help our teen deal with those complex feelings in a healthy manner. We need to have faith in our teen and our parenting.