Johnny may still ask Suzy to be his date, but only after the “group” has decided who will go with whom.The group eats dinner together, poses for pictures together and attends the dance together. ’” What to watch for: Officially, it’s OK for kids who aren’t part of a large friend group to go with just a date or with another couple, and it’s OK for kids to go “stag.” Unofficially, there are unwritten rules that your teen knows might discourage him from attending even if he wants to.Case in point: There’s a myth in teen circles that you can’t get STDs from oral sex, Gurwitch notes.
Even 14- and 15-year-olds can fall in love, Reardon says.
“To a child or teenager who is experiencing this, it is very real and very important,” she 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.
“You never want the guy to think you’re going, ‘Oh, we’re dating, so I want you to meet them,’” Megan says.
Broken hearts after a breakup are real, too, and just as with adults, there’s no timetable for recovery.
What to watch for: If your teen experiences signs of depression weeks after a breakup, appears to be arguing or behaving differently with their boyfriend/girlfriend, withdraws from other friends or shows signs of physical abuse such as bruises or scratches, check with your doctor, school counselor or a community psychologist right away, advise both Gurwitch and Reardon.
For high schoolers, it can mean that, too, but usually refers to making out at parties or get-togethers.
Kids hook up with people they’ve just met, casual acquaintances and even friends. Jennifer, when asked if hooking up with a guy meant a girl had a crush on him, says dismissively, “Nope.” And Megan concurs: “It would seem very strange to me that a girl would think there’s something there” after a hookup.
Megan*, a senior at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, says only about 20 percent of these relationships result in an official couple.