As parents, caregivers or teachers of teens, there are some important steps to take when it comes to talking to teens about healthy relationships and dating violence. Keeping the lines of communication open and ensuring you create a judgement-free, supportive environment is key. We’ve already discussed how dating violence is most definitely a teen issue and some typical warning signs to be on the lookout for. In this post about teens and healthy relationships, we want to go over some key points on how parents, caregivers and educators can talk to teens about these important issues.
Here are some crucial tips:
- Talk about both healthy and unhealthy relationships. Ask your teen what she or he wants their relationship to look like. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they don’t want, as well.
- Make sure they know the signs of an abusive partner or unhealthy relationship. Don’t just assume they will know what is normal and what is controlling or abusive. Many youth have their first serious relationship in high school, and having no prior reference can be make it harder to distinguish what is okay and what is not.
- Understand that the “sex talk” is an outdated model. You can’t just have one conversation and be done with it. Talks about relationships and sexual encounters should be a continuous and evolving process, where your child feels comfortable to ask questions or come to you with concerns. If this isn’t possible for you, try to make sure they have a trusted adult, such as a doctor, who they can speak to.
- Talk to them about internet safety.Posting nude photos or sending photos to someone through text message pose many risks which teens may not have thought through. Talk to them about these risks as well as the importance of all their actions on social media. While this is a new field for many parents, we are still learning just how devastating these impulsive decisions can be and how much harm they can do.
- Use newsworthy and pop culture moments to have talks and teach lessons. For instance, when a famous pop culture icon is involved in dating violence, use this as an opportunity to discuss what they thought of it and how they could help a friend who might be in a similar situation.
- Model healthy relationships: Perhaps one of the most important take-aways is that we should be modelling healthy relationships ourselves. Kids watch what the adults in their life do and how they treat each other. Treat your own spouse or others with kindness and respect.
Because we’ve recognized just how important the topic of healthy relationships and teen dating violence is, we’ve created a thoughtful and engaging Facebook Live series geared toward teens of all ages. Each month, we will feature a new speaker, who will talk about an important issue relevant to teens and dating. There will be opportunities to ask the speaker questions or engage in the talk. The live talks will also be recorded and can then be viewed on our Facebook page any time after that. Check out all of the amazing talks we’ve hosted so far, and be sure to check back in as we plan out our next round of fantastic speakers.