Teenagers dating too early

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Rather than trusting their instincts, many parents turn to outside experts for advice on how to raise teens.

“Parents can tie themselves into knots trying to follow the advice they read in books,” says Robert Evans, Ed D, author of Family Matters: How Schools Can Cope with the Crisis in Child Rearing.

“Books become a problem when parents use them to replace their own innate skills,” Evans says.

“If the recommendations and their personal style don’t fit, parents wind up more anxious and less confident with their own children.” “A lot of parents don't want growing up to involve any pain, disappointment, or failure,” Evans says.

Yet, he said, romantic relationships can also be significant sources of support that offer teenagers fun and companionship, help them forge mature identities and offer them practice in managing emotions.'' Growing up involves risks,'' he said.

That's being an authoritative parent, an approach that "helps children develop the skills they need to govern themselves in appropriate ways," Lerner says.Larson confirmed what parents since Adam and Eve have observed: adolescents are either very happy or very unhappy much more often than adults, especially concerning romance. Larson correlated their more numerous negative responses to what he called ''a certain randomness'' and superficiality in their attachments, which make their relationships less rewarding.Indeed, he said, this dissatisfaction is most pronounced among among the younger, less experienced teenagers, who ''haven't yet learned how to have fun and get along.'' He observed, '' It takes time for a teenager to realize that a relationship isn't just an infatuation based on haphazard attraction, but an entity on which two people with compatible personalities work together.'' Earlier studies of youthful romance tended to focus on its risks and those who were most vulnerable. Jay Silverman, director of violence prevention programs at the Harvard School of Public Health, published in August in The Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that about one in five high school girls had been physically or sexually harmed by a dating partner -- about the same rate at which adult women report being abused by partners. Silverman found that compared with girls who had not been abused, the victims were four to six times as likely to have been pregnant, eight to nine times as likely to have attempted suicide, three to four times as likely to have used laxatives or vomiting to lose weight, and three to five times as likely to have used cocaine. Silverman said that partner abuse among teenagers was ''typically ignored'' -- even in youth programs that focused on some of the very problems, like unwed pregnancy and addiction, that were linked to such violence.Last December, The Journal of Health and Social Behavior published a study called '' You Don't Bring Me Anything but Down,'' which reported that compared with unattached peers, involved adolescents were somewhat more vulnerable to depression, delinquency, alcohol abuse and problems with school and parents.The most likely of all teenagers to become depressed are romantically involved girls ages 12 to 14, said Dr.

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