Relationships play a major role in our lives, especially during the teen years. Unfortunately, many teens have relationships that are unhealthy. One in 10 dating teens has experienced some form of dating violence. Dating violence can be stalking, emotional, physical or sexual abuse and can occur in person, online through social media or via text on a cell phone. Both boys and girls can be involved in unsafe and unhealthy relationships.
Below are some talking points that you can bring up with your teen when discussing healthy relationships.
- Respect and support: Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships. Each individual should feel respected, valued and supported. Offer reassurance and encouragement in your relationships and do not be afraid to let them know when you need support.
- Conflict resolution: In healthy relationships, if something is bothering you, speak up. Disagreements should be handled with open and honest communication. Finding a compromise can help solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
- Privacy: Respect one another’s privacy. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. You should not feel obligated to share passwords to your email, social media accounts or phone.
- Establish boundaries: Healthy boundaries are not a sign of secrecy but an expression of what you would like or not like out of the relationship. Healthy boundaries should NOT make you feel trapped or restrict you from spending time with others or participating in activities you enjoy.
As a parent, what can you do?
First and foremost, be a good role model. You can also help your teen develop problem solving skills, and set rules for relationships and dating by setting boundaries and expectations (who can come over when parents are away, can your child go out with someone you have not met, how you can be reached if needed). Talk with your children about alcohol, drugs, tobacco and sex.
It is never too early to start talking to your son or daughter about developing realistic and healthy expectations for their relationships. For more information, reach out to your family physician or pediatrician.