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“So from a parenting perspective,” says Connolly, who is also the director of the La Marsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution, “you want to know who your kids are friends with.” Kids like the security of having their friends around.“When you’re going out with someone, it’s much easier to be yourself when your friends are there too,” says Katie, 15, of Carleton Place, Ont.A couple may never see or speak to each other outside of school, although they may well enjoy the new status accorded them by their peers.These types of short-lived pairings — relationships in name only — jump in numbers by grades six and seven, when alcohol increasingly becomes part of many parties.“At this age we’re always fighting with our parents, so we need to feel we’re loved.” She’s quick to add that while she and her boyfriend love each other, they’re not . ” This is the new world of teen dating, and it can be almost unrecognizable to many parents.
The gang’s all here Going out with your significant other with all your mutual friends in tow is such a common phenomenon across the country that academics have started researching it.
“This ‘liquid courage,’ which is far more common than other drugs, makes kids get over their natural modesty and social awkwardness,” says Kim Martyn, a long-time sexual health educator in Toronto.
Parents must acknowledge this reality and address safety issues around the risks of drinking, says Martyn, who’s also the mother of two young-adult daughters.
“If you pretended to be somebody else, your friends would go, ‘Whoa, why are you acting so weird?
’” Also, there’s no need to pre-arrange that cellphone call to get you out of a date you’re not enjoying.
“If I get bored [on a date], my friends keep things interesting,” Katie says.