Your dreams for your child may include finishing college, starting a career and purchasing a home, but your teenager may have other plans in mind. As puberty nears, adolescents may fall in love for the first time. Though you may have fears about your teen falling in love, the experience can also pack several benefits.
Whether you call it "puppy love" or something else, teenagers in love may spend their free time fantasizing about the other person and sleeping and eating little, according to the BBC. Though adults may also experience these effects, the novelty of the experience can cause a stronger reaction in teenagers. Hormones like oxytocin, estrogen and dopamine are released when teenagers fall in love. The love bug can also be inspired by an unlikely influence -- teens may be more likely to find attractive those who look and smell like their parents.
Benefits and Disadvantages
Those frequent daydreaming sessions can come at a price when it comes to the rest of your teen's life. A teen may miss work or have problems at school because he is preoccupied with a love interest, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. But love can also cause your teen to learn more about himself, improve his social skills and get involved in new interests and hobbies, according to the New York University Child Study Center. Though love can boost self-esteem, it can also cause low self-esteem if your teen faces physical aggression or jealousy from a partner. Teens may be more susceptible to abuse than adults because they are still learning which behaviors are healthy and normal.
Teen love is often short-lived, with most relationships generally lasting a few months, according to KidsHealth. The drive to get new experiences, including mingling with new partners, may also motivate teenagers to soon fall in love with someone else. Love during the teen years is more likely to be based primarily on physical attraction, with dating sometimes being a way to show status. During the later teen years, love and relationships may be longer-lived as teens begin to value closeness with someone else more than physical attraction.
Though you may wonder if your teen hears you, parents have a strong influence on who a teen dates and loves. Your daughter may be looking at your relationships to determine the kind of treatment she should give a partner and expect in return, according to the NYU Child Study Center. Discussing the kinds of behavior your daughter should not tolerate from someone else, like hitting or surveillance of all of her activities, may help her find healthier love and relationships in the long-term.