Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman on how to gently address your child's unrealistic expectations of his first relationship.

By Rosalind Wiseman

Q. My 10-year-old just told me he and his girlfriend plan to stay together until they graduate from college, then get married. How can he be so serious about this girl at his age?

A. Serious for a 10-year-old is a relative thing—the chance that this girl is your future daughter-in-law is slim to none. But that doesn't mean you should pat your son on the head and send him on his way. Use this as an opportunity to validate his feelings while not necessarily agreeing with him, a skill that comes in handy with temperamental tweens and teens.

Ask him to talk with you about why he likes this girl and to describe specific ways he and his friend are showing each other respect. Finish by reminding him of your rules for his conduct in all his relationships.

Originally published in the March 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.