Dating anyone more than two years older is risky—there are so many developmental differences that it’s almost impossible to have a healthy relationship with that large an age gap.

And be sure to set ground rules: no friends over when adults aren’t home, check in when they go out to let you know where they’ll be and who they’re with, etc.

Dating is a time of social experimentation for teens.

It’s a time to test out which type of partners appeal to them, and how they can negotiate a romantic relationship.

As parents, we all want our teens to have good early relationships, so we should discuss what constitutes a healthy relationship before they begin dating.

We can help them to expect good communication, respect, trust, fairness, honesty and equality.

But it can also be a confusing time and a difficult time for parents too. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital, has some advice. Your relationship with your partner is a model for how your teen will behave with others. Being manipulated, verbally put down, pushed or slapped and kept isolated from other relationships are all signs of an abusive relationship. Tell them they need to be honest and clear in communications. Make them think seriously about what sexual intimacy really means to them.

Teen dating can be a wonderful and fun time where self confidence is built up, and dating techniques are learned. Attorney General reports that 38 percent of date rape victims are girls between the age of 14 and 17. Teach them how to date, how to have respect for one another and how to protect themselves from emotional and physical hurt. Your relationship for your child speaks far louder than anyone’s words. Help them pay attention to the voice inside that says, “I’m uncomfortable in this situation and don’t want to do this.” Teach them to trust their judgment. Tell your sons that having sex does not make them a man and tell your daughters that having sex does not make them cool. Make sure both your son and daughter understand that, and that they should come to you or another parent/teacher/counselor if they feel at all threatened or oppressed by their boyfriend or girlfriend. “I’m not sure…” from a girl can mean “I just need to be pushed or pressured some more before I say yes” to her date. Tell boys if they hear “No” then proceeding anyway is rape. Tell boys they are not expected to try a million different ways to get sex.The most important thing for parents to do is to listen.Stay calm and try to keep the lines of communication open, so your teen knows he or she can continue to come to you.Planned Parenthood created this helpful tool for parents to start having these conversations.In fact, teens name their parents as the biggest influence in their decisions about sex, so we can help them understand why it’s important to wait to have sex until they’re ready.We have to be willing to talk and listen, and ask direct questions like, “What’s going on physically with you two?