Talking with Your Teenager about Healthy Dating Relationships
Parents play an important role in helping teenagers learn to build healthy relationships. You can begin by talking with your teenager about abusive behavior and what is healthy - and unhealthy - in their relationships with peers. Here are some suggestions for helping your teenager build healthy relationships:
- Model good relationships. Be respectful in your relationships at home and show your teenager that communicating in a positive way helps build trust and respect.
- Talk with your teenager about other dating relationships they see at school or on TV. Use these opportunities to discuss what's healthy in a relationship and what's not.
- Teach your teenager that abusive or violent behavior is never acceptable.
- Ask questions about your teenager's relationships with friends. Reinforce that you are available to talk whenever your teen has questions or concerns.
- Talk with your teenager about the importance of mutual respect in a relationship.
- Keep the conversation casual. Let your teenager ask questions and guide the discussion.
- Educate yourself on digital abuse, which can include excessive texting, sexting, sending threatening texts or emails and using social media sites to post insults. Talk with your teenager about how to use social media sites responsibly.
- Be supportive of your teenager's choices and encourage him or her to come to you if he or she ever feels uncomfortable in a relationship, and that you will do what you can to help.
- Talk with your child about the importance of trust and relationship boundaries. Let your teenager know their privacy is important, and they should be concerned about anyone who wants to share passwords for phone or email accounts.
- Remind your teenager that relationships don't have to be physically violent to be abusive. Talk about recognizing the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Your teen should be concerned about anyone who is disrespectful, threatening or demeaning.
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