Teen Love

Category: Weekly Columns

Dear Parents - on Teens

Most of us have plenty of stories of our first love, teen love, and many love stories later on in life. Being the father of two teen boys, I’ve witnessed their social lives, lived a bit vicariously through them, and been reminded about how we all must find our own way. We all must learn our lessons. And, we as parents really can’t and shouldn’t overly protect our children from these valuable lessons. Hopefully, if we’ve raised them right, they will make the right choices and decisions. To me, that’s part of the ongoing serial drama of being a parent!

Teenage Love

This is one of those times when I will not be telling experiences involving my own boys. I ain’t treading those dangerous waters, nor should I. I will extrapolate some generalities and see if I can remember my early experiences with love and how they may or may not relate to today’s teenagers. But, we know the answer; this is one of those human realities that don’t change much with “progress.”

Being the parent of a teen in the throes of teen love and angst can be quite an ordeal. Yes, the world is going to end if so-and-so doesn’t call back RIGHT AWAY. Yes, how can they go on living after someone texted THAT about them? And, of course, that photo in that dress is simply appalling. Perhaps the only change from my generation to theirs is that information is shared that much faster rather than the way it was, as portrayed in Bye Bye Birdie in that wonderful number, Telephone Hour – “Did you hear about Hugo and Kim?”

I’m sitting next to my 16-year-old son, on our drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco (he is driving) and thought I’d ask him some questions and here it is straight from the source:

~~ Any first thoughts about how teen love manifests itself today? Do you think it’s any different from when I was a teenager?

Answer: Probably, times are different.

~~ Do your friends date?

Answer: Some of them do. We always hangout with each other, less as boyfriend and girlfriend.

~~ Are many of your friends having sex?

Answer: I don’t think so.

~~ Do you know any couple – your age – that have been together a while and seem to have a good relationship?

Answer: Not currently.

~~ What is the biggest difference re: technology that you see among your friends (different from my generation)?

Answer: Texting.

~~ Is that the primary form you and your friends use to communicate?

Answer: Yes.

~~ Do you ever have long phone conversations late into the night – or are those also in the form of texting?

Answer: Only texting.

Well, now you know why I don’t interview my sons very often. But, he gave me “approval” to include these pearls of wisdom in this column. I’ve had my other son on my radio show a couple of times. The second time was the last. He basically sat there, bored and disinterested. The answers, much like the ones above, were monosyllabic!

Growing UpSo, I will assert the differences that I observe in teen love. First, as my son said, phone calls are less a part of their social lives than social media (aka texting), though my older son talks on his cell-phone much more than his younger brother. Second, dating per se seems to have been replaced by group dates or get togethers. And, making out (or “hooking up” as the current incarnation – my son says that phrase includes all forms of sexual contact) takes place – more often than not – at a party or in a group setting (not in front of the group necessarily, but around the environs of where they may be).

The drama is completely unchanged. Perhaps the girls are bigger drama queens given the variety of outlets they have to be dramatic, but the basic emotions are simply over-the-top, just as they were for my generation.

Funny teen quote

Forgive the R-rated language, but this was just too funny!

My boys resemble very much – my best friend and me, from high school. I was totally into girls, trying my darndest to get to as many as I could – ANY that I could. And, because I was 16 when I graduated high school, my success rate was abysmal. I didn’t “come into my own” until after college when it came to “the ladies.” My best friend, on the other hand, had one girlfriend in high school that he met in the drama club. He liked her a bunch, but it was a totally bland experience, as far as I could tell, and his interest in finding another girlfriend after that ended was pretty much non-existent.

One of my boys was into girls very young and had a couple of girlfriends during his high school years. He was as emotional about it as I remember I was in that stage of my life. My other son is very much like my high school best friend in that he doesn’t seem to care one way or another. He has a large variety of boy and girl friends, but most (ironically) come from his involvement in drama. They have such a wonderful shared passion that it resembles the friends I had on my high school tennis team. But, in his case, it’s quite co-ed.

Teens hooking up photo

Then, there’s the technology which has made all social interactions way too public and, at times, hurtful or dangerous. That is worthy of its own column, but we all have examples we can immediately think of. What stories do you have about your kid’s teen love experiences or of your own that you’d care to share?

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Book Cover from The Empty Nest

  • http://moondustwriter.com Leslie Moon

    I don’t think much has changed just the way kids communicate. Though I do think its funny that people are “going out” and they have never met. Excellent article Bruce

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @moondustwriter:disqus – here at The Outside Land Music Festival, I’m seeing young teen girls “hook up” with strangers and, frankly, it’s creepy and NOT cool to watch…Much is – as you say – the same.

      • David W.

        You’re just saying that because you’re not a teenage boy hooking up with them!

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          Darn ! Busted again @825d633bfba2bcec40afc5911539d3b5:disqus

  • David W.

    It sounds as though it’s a combination of “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” (“the more things change, the more they stay the same”) and “brave new world.” I imagine that teen angst, teen passions, teen love and all related matters will always be intense and, for most if not all teenagers, all-consuming. The intersection of that with social media is an interesting one, however. The idea of texting for extended periods of time when you could just as easily be talking on the phone is somewhat mystifying to me; text messaging is appealing to me for only short bursts, but I guess if you can do it for many minutes or a couple of hours, OK.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I like the “Brave New World” analogy @825d633bfba2bcec40afc5911539d3b5:disqus

  • Suzi

    I’m getting it *really* easy with my teenaged son. He’s almost sixteen, going into 11th grade, and has had the same girlfriend since 8th grade. It’s a pretty calm and stable relationship with minimal drama. It just makes me wonder what I’ll be in for with my two littles when they hit high school.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Stay alert @Suzi – you never know!

  • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn Nicander Mohr

    Oh Bruce, your timing is perfect. My 17 year old daughter has a first date tonight with a very nice boy but I’m still a bit nervous. Their date was set up totally by text message. They met once and got to know each other through Facebook.

    You’ll be happy to know that their date is a classic one though: dinner and a movie!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I hope SHE has a curfew @wonderoftech:disqus? Do let me/us know how it went!!!??? If only via DM…

      • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn Nicander Mohr

        Yes, 11 PM. (I’m tough.) It’s 10:15 now, not that I’m watching the clock… 😉

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          Soooo!!!!???? @wonderoftech:disqus

      • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn Nicander Mohr

        She got back home at 10:30 and the date went very well (translation: he was a true gentleman!). Yea! 🙂

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          @wonderoftech:disqus – Wonderful! I bet you slept well once she got home and gave you the details! I hope to see you tonight at #DadChat!?

          • http://www.wonderoftech.com Carolyn Nicander Mohr

            Yes, I certainly did, Bruce. 🙂

            I’ll be there this evening. What I did over the summer was: travel! That’s why I’ve been absent from #DadChat. Great to be back home and back at #DadChat!

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