Relationship expert gives advice to parents, singles and couples

In honor of Valentines Day, we had relationship expert and psychology professor Dr. Diane Brockman joined us in-studio to chat about all things romance.

So how can parents help their children especially when they first start dating?
– First, parents should be involved with their child’s social life – know whom they are hanging out with, where they are spending their time, and whom they are dating.
– It is important to get to know your child’s date – invite your child’s date to your home and plan games and snacks there instead of having them go out or invite the date to family activities to get to know the date as well.
– The key is to get to know your child’s date so you can better understand the person that is spending so much time with your child.
– If there are any red flags about the date’s behavior, you can address that with your child sooner, rather than later.

What else can parents do to help their children with dating?
– Parents can also set certain rules to help their child to better navigate dating.
– For example, parents could set reasonable curfews for their child, which may reduce the chances of inappropriate behavior occurring, and parents can set reasonable consequences if your child doesn’t come home on time.
– Parents are still a big influence in their teen’s life and it is ok to set rules and enforce them, especially when parents explain why they are setting certain rules.

How has the internet and access to social media changed dating?
– Social media has changed dating in so many ways and many of the changes are concerning.
– There are apps that target teens, such as the app, “Yellow” that Channel 27 talked about earlier in the week.
– Yellow had been called the “Tinder for Teens” – As with Tinder, Yellow users “swipe right” on the profile pictures of strangers to show interest in each other. They can then communicate through Snapchat
– Within minutes of signing up, children are being hounded for inappropriate pictures from strangers.
– Even scarier, even someone with a little bit of cyber background can extract data from these pictures and actually get the geographical location of where the picture was taken.
– Parents certainly need to be aware of these types of apps.

So how can parents protect their kids from these types of apps?
– There are apps and software that will block sites or monitor their child’s online behavior (ex: Torch – wireless router that can act as an Internet timer, filter and blocker)
– But if you use this type of monitoring technology it is important to tell your kids what you are doing and even to get buy-in from them. (There are crazy things out there that have very detrimental consequences).
– One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to talk to your children, so you can truly understand what’s going on in their life.
– As parents we need to remember that the part of a child’s brain that helps them to understand the consequences of behavior isn’t fully developed until their early twenties, so it is important that we explain some of the consequences of inappropriate online behavior (such as sending inappropriate pictures, especially to strangers) to help them to make better decisions.

How can couples who have been together for a long time make Valentine’s Day special?
– Certainly, just because a couple has been together for a long time does not mean that their Valentine’s Day should be any less special.
– One thing that they could do is go to a place that is really special and meaningful for them, such as where they had their first date or shared their first kiss. Sometimes going back to how the relationship started can be very special.
– Or they could do the opposite of that and try something completely new – try a new restaurant or a show in town that you might not usually go to. Doing something new together can be very bonding.
– Then my favorite, if you are married – you could renew your vows. Looking at your spouse in the eye and repeating the words of your vows can be a very powerful reminder of what the two of you promised to each other so long ago.

So what about single people, how can they find that “special someone”? What are some things that people can do to meet someone to date?
Context is very important in terms of finding a mate and one of the things that will help you to meet someone is to increase your pool of available mates.
– And do that you want to get out there and try things and try to go places where the ratio (women to men) is in your favor.

So where should women go if they want to meet men?
You want to increase your pool of people to date, so you want to do is just get out there and try things.
– And it doesn’t hurt to try new things where there tend to be more men, such sporting events (baseball, football games), business events, even car shows.
– Or you could take up a new sport like golf or skiing where there tend to be more men.
– The key is to try new things and meet as many new people as possible and this will increase your pool of available mates.

What about the men? Where should they go if they want to meet someone?
Men will want to go places where there are more women so they could do things such as attend adult learning classes, dance classes, a local sport and social club, or a museum or bookstore.
– Again, the key is to get out there and do new things to expand your social network.
– You might not necessarily meet someone at one of these events, but the more people you know, the more your social network can expand because they might know someone that you might like – a friend, sibling, coworker, etc.

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