How are we preparing our children and teens for healthy relationships?

Modeling healthy relationships is a great way we teach these behaviors. However, some teens fall victim to dating violence regardless of the relationships they see at home.

Young people need to learn how to have healthy relationships. This involves skills like honesty, mutual respect, peaceful and direct communication, establishing boundaries, and empathy. It also means being able to recognize red flags or warning signs of potentially abusive behavior.

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How do I talk to my teen about healthy relationships?

  • More than Once. Research shows that multiple meaningful conversations over your child’s life time are most impactful. Take advantage of moments like in the car when you’re alone together, or after a movie. Relationships seen in a movie could be a conversation starter.
  • Mutual Respect. Come from a place of understanding and respect. Model the behavior you want to see in your child, this will help build trust and improve communication.
  • Ask Questions. Understand the nature of your teen’s relationship. If your teen is in a relationship what does it mean? Do they hold hands, kiss, or go places alone? Ask your teen what is important to them in a relationship and what they look for in a partner. What does having a boyfriend or girlfriend mean to your teen? It might not mean what you think.
  • Know your values. Discuss what kind of partner or relationship you want for you teen. “I want you to have a fulfilling healthy relationship with a boyfriend/girlfriend who respects you.” Talk to them about what is meaningful to you in your own relationships.
  • Discuss Sex with Your Teen. Teens who talk to their parents about sex are more likely to delay sex and use protection. Discuss your family values, expectations, consent, birth control, and condoms.
  • Learn Together. If you are unsure about a topic, or how to talk to your teen about relationships, additional resources are provided below.

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Resources

Center for Disease Control

Office of Adolescent Health

Planned Parenthood

Love is Respect