I think most of us know that parents dream of having the type of relationship with us where we'd tell them anything. Not just that we’re comfortable telling them anything, but that we actively want to, and do. Including about our romantic relationships.
The reality is though that we teenagers are pretty unwilling to share our love life with our parents and I'm here to tell you why.
Mum, could you be more embarrassing?!
Speaking from personal experience, the main reason is simply is that it’s embarrassing. I hate the thought of being patronised, and when I was younger I hated the idea of someone thinking my relationship was “sweet or “cute”. I didn’t really mind being viewed as young, because I knew I obviously was (and still am!), but it was this sort of thing I wanted to avoid. Since for me, it wasn’t simply “young love”, but just “love”. That sounds cringey, but the point is that to me it was completely real, no matter how the outside world viewed it. And it’s easy to say that if that was the case then I shouldn’t have cared what other people thought, but, especially at that age, I actually cared very much and there was very little I could do about it.
And I felt like this from a really young age. At primary school, when people have “boyfriends” and “girlfriends”, it's often laughed at by parents. Perhaps some parents are better at hiding it, but for the most part it's definitely true. And it really felt as if you were being laughed at. It wasn’t that they felt the relationship was “sweet” in a genuine heart-throb way, just that they found it funny. If someone said “bless” about me when I was a tween, I would have been offended to my core. All I wanted to be at that age was viewed as grown-up, and “cute” is not grown-up.
If I tell you, will you try and stop me?
Once I was old enough to no longer feel embarrassed, I felt I had to tell my parents if I wanted to see my boyfriend without sneaking around. I was lucky that I have extremely progressive parents who are very relaxed about this sort of thing and who felt that they'd rather know exactly what was happening. But some of my friends had stricter parents, so they felt that if there were going to be restrictions on their relationships, it was easier to never mention it in the first place.
Let's all pretend it's not happening and I'm going to stay innocent for ever, right?!
Maybe some parents don’t want to know at all; they know you're up to no good and so it’s probably best they have no idea what’s going on! Or maybe they feel as squeamish as you when thinking about discussing it.
I just know you're going to hate him - or, worse, adopt him as 'the son you never had'
Then there's the worry that your mum and dad might not like your boyfriend or girlfriend. Some might feel that no one will be good enough intheir parents' eyes. On the flip side, some parents can get too involved; going above and beyond might seem nice but can sometimes be overkill. It also makes breakups much more difficult - after all, it’s your relationship, not theirs.
If I don't know what's going on, how can you hope to?
Lastly, relationships are difficult. Sometimes, teens are afraid of commitment, or they might be making their mind up between two people, or have a situation that isn’t as easy to explain as a full relationship. If you're unsure of what your relationship with someone actually is or might turn out to be, it’s no surprise that you hesitate to tell your parents. Unless, perhaps, you’re looking for advice. And even then, of course you’re more likely to go to your friends. Because your parents have been Mum and Dad (or Mum and Mum, or Dad and Dad, or just Mum, or just Dad) for all these years, not real people who understand how it feels to be a teenager in love.
Thank you for reading!