When first dating, teens are only beginning to understand what entails a healthy relationship, so it's all too easy for your daughter to get caught up with a boyfriend who is jealous and controlling. If you notice her relationship often revolves around explaining her actions, apologizing for spending time with others or trying to soothe her boyfriend's feelings, talk to her about what constitutes a healthy relationship. While it might seem benign, jealousy can lead to riskier behavior.
Teen relationships are usually immature because your teen -- and her beau -- are only just beginning to learn how to maintain a healthy relationship. Your teen's boyfriend might not yet understand how to deal with feelings of jealousy, warns the National Institute of Justice. This can lead to overreaction and isolation. What's more, he might have peers who gossip or pressure him into feeling jealous -- even if he's not a jealous person by nature. The result becomes an atmosphere that is controlling and apologetic, rather than healthy and mutually beneficial.
What might seem cute as first -- "Aw, he was jealous when he saw me with another boy!" -- can quickly evolve into something that is restrictive for your teen. It might come with comments such as "Billy doesn't like it when I talk to my best friend." That jealousy can also evolve into more risky behavior, including violence. A 2005 study at Pennsylvania State University found that feelings of jealousy were also linked to aggression and low self-esteem, and a deep need to protect relationships. What started as cute puppy love could become a dangerous relationship for your teen.
Talking to Your Teen
Your teen probably already knows that her jealous boyfriend is getting out of control, but she still might be defensive when you try to broach the subject. Be respectful and sensitive as you let her know what you like about her boyfriend, but also voice your concerns with specific examples. Try, "I really like Billy and he seems nice, but I've noticed that you spend much less time with your other friends. I'd hate for your relationship to affect your friendships." This can help your teen think about what pandering to her jealous boyfriend is really costing her.
Talk to your teen about what constitutes a healthy relationship, even in her early teen years. She can then evaluate her current relationship and decide if it's something she wants to continue. A healthy relationship is built upon a high degree or mutual trust and respect. When someone is jealous, it a sign he doesn't trust his partner. Relationships should never be isolating or make you feel as though you need to apologize for your normal behavior. KidsHealth.org points out that it OK to feel a little jealous -- jealousy is natural. But jealousy so extreme that it changes the way your teen feels about herself or changes her behavior could be the sign of a serious problem.