Sometimes the important conversations we need to have are the hardest to begin.
Studies have shown that 1 in 5 high school girls and 1 in 10 high school boys* will experience some form of dating violence before they graduate. Whether they experience it first-hand or through a friend, educating your teen about healthy and unhealthy relationships can help equip them to safely navigate the world of dating.
If you’re struggling with how to start the conversation with your teen about dating violence, we’re here to help. In honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, our Prevention Coordinator Maggie Szeder has provided 8 easy steps to get you started:
2. Start by talking about what a healthy relationship looks like. Ask your teen to brainstorm with you around what qualities to look for in a relationship. (If they get stuck, ask them what they look for in a friendship and build from there.)
Some key words to use: communication, trust, empathy, independence, and respect. Bonus points if you sing Aretha Franklin’s Respect.
3. Next, discuss what an unhealthy relationship might look like. Is it ok if their partner is constantly going through their phone? What if they make fun of you in front of your friends? Is jealously healthy?
4. Is your teen in a relationship? Challenge them to reflect on how they treat their partner. Do their actions fall in the ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ categories? Are there things that they could work on improving?
5. Remind your teen that you’re there to listen or help if they ever have questions or need someone to talk to. Encourage open communication and refrain from responding judgmentally.
7. Finally, keep the conversation going! This isn’t a one-and-done kind of talk. (Sorry.) A great way to do this is by identifying healthy and unhealthy relationship characteristics in the world around them. You can use your own life experiences, TV shows, movies, or music.
8. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, so pick a date, follow our tips, and get ready to tackle talking to your teen about healthy relationships. And by the way, your teens want to learn this stuff! No matter how many eye rolls you get during this talk, they’ll appreciate that you took the time to talk to them about it. Trust us!