• The 411 On Teens and Dating | Mary Jo Rapini | Episode 46

  • As parents, we draw on our own experiences and upbringing to make decisions about parenting our teens and twentysomethings. But teens and dating have changed and we need to understand what’s happening now and how we can best prepare and support our kids as they learn to navigate the turbulent waters of dating, relationships, and sex. Relationship, intimacy and sex expert, Mary Jo Rapini, joins Mighty Parenting hosts, Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler to explore what our teens are doing and how we can guide and support them.



    Patreon BONUS: Mary Jo shares some insights on raising kids in today’s culture and the profound but often-ignored impact on our boys. https://www.patreon.com/mightyparenting

    A Favorite Quote from the Show:

    I’m worried about our boys.

    High Points of the Discussion About Teens and Dating:

    Teens are taking less risks sexually but there’s more sexting and pornography.

    We can see on social media just how fast girls are growing up. They’re more provocative and more aggressive and it’s happening at younger ages.

    Parents need to focus on the value of relationships. Encourage our teens to stay away from sex and focus on the relationship itself.

    Kids are desperate to have friends.

    Our kids are sending and posting pictures and things that they won’t like to have out in the world later but they don’t really understand the concept of “forever”.

    Studies of the most influential people in teens’ lives show parents are still the biggest influence.

    Teens want their parents around.

    We need to teach our kids values. That means making time for them and having heart-to-heart conversations.

    Teens need regular check ins: dinner talk, coffee chats, walks, etc. During that time they need our undivided attention.

    We should talk about everything with our kids.

    If they ask questions about your sexual past you don’t have to share details.

    Don’t talk so much. Ask questions like, “How did that make you feel?” or “How do you think they felt?”.

    Model real conversations by asking about and sharing emotions.

    Signs that your child may be in a bad or abusive relationship include changes in their eating patterns, always being angry or irritable.

    Consent is a huge issue. In Texas, the law says the if alcohol was involved then there cannot be consent.

    We must talk to our boys about consent because this can destroy their future. They can be accused or convicted of being a sexual predator and that follows them.

    Boys can feel pressured to make a move physically. Girls often expect them to do so as a way of showing their interest or attraction. We need to teach our sons other ways of letting a girl know she’s pretty and that they desire her.

    When our kids experience heartbreak, the best thing we can do is simply be there for them. We don’t need to talk, bash their ex, or fix it for them.

    Let them experience their pain and grief and be with them while they move through it.

    We can tell them, “You’ve gotten through bad things before and I’ll stay with you through this.”

    A simple touch, rubbing their back, laying your hand on the back of their neck or their hair or on their shoulder, conveys your concern and support and means a lot to kids.

    Regardless of whether or not we think the relationship was important or a big deal, we need to respect our children’s feelings of loss.

    When parents are afraid for their children, they can tend to downplay events in our kids’ lives. Our kids need to see that vulnerability because it shows them we care about them.

    Our Guest:

    Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC is a psychotherapist specializing in intimacy, sex and relationships. She lives in Houston, Texas.

    Mary Jo maintains a private practice as a Relationship, Intimacy/Sex Psychotherapist and is a renowned lecturer, author and television personality.

    Currently you can find Mary Jo on Fox 26 Monday’s and Thursdays’ with her segment on healthy relationships and “Ask Mary Jo.” She has been a contributor on air for CNN’s Prime News and has been on CBS up to the Minute, Fox National Morning News, Montel, Steve Harvey, the Today Show and Dateline. Mary Jo was also featured in TLC’s Big Medicine which ran two seasons and Discovery Health Channel about her Near-Death Experience which aired Jan 4, 2010. Mary Jo was seen on the Dr. Oz show November 2, 2018 talking about what happens to us when we die.

    Mary Jo Contributes and writes a love/relationship blog for the Houston Chronicle on line and Your Tango as an expert, as well as contributing to Cosmopolitan Magazine, Women’s Health First, Seventeen Magazine, Teen Magazine, Redbook and Self Magazine as needed. She has a column in Prime Living Magazine which is released every other month as an exclusive magazine.

    Mary Jo is a popular key-note speaker across the nation. Her dynamic style is particularly engaging for those dealing with intimacy issues and relationship challenges including weight loss surgery clients as they transition to a healthier life style, or those simply hanging on to unasked questions about intimacy and sex in relationships. She also excels at speaking to groups of young girls dealing with body image issues and delivers a message that is geared to helping girls become strong women.

    Rapini is the author of three books: Is God Pink? Dying to Heal and co-author of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex or Whatever and co-author of Re-Coupling; a Couple’s 4 Step Guide to Greater Intimacy and Better Sex. To learn more or connect with our guest visit http://www.maryjorapini.com


    I had to stop listening to the latest podcast and I don't do that often. The shaming and blaming of girls was disturbing. I am the mom of three boys and would never think of sharing any of your guest's thoughts with them.


    Karla, Thank you for your input on the dating episode. We appreciate your thoughts and insight into this sensitive matter. As a mom of 3 boys, we'd love to hear any suggestions on what's working with your son's!