Posted Date: 05/02/2016
You can help your teen build strong, respectful relationships. Start by teaching your son or daughter about healthy relationships.
Unfortunately, many teens have relationships that are unhealthy. More than 1 in 10 teens who have been on a date have also been:
You can help your kids:
Talking about healthy relationships is a great way to show that you are available to listen and answer questions – so make sure to check in often with your teen. Together, you can agree on clear rules about dating to help keep your teen safe.
Kids learn about relationships from the adults around them. When you taught your child to say “please” and “thank you” as a toddler, you were teaching respect and kindness.
Your own relationships also teach your kids how to treat others. When you treat your kids, partner, and friends in healthy, supportive ways, your kids learn from your choices.
Children learn from unhealthy experiences, too. If they experience violence at home or in the community, they are more likely to be in unhealthy relationships later on.
It’s best to start talking about healthy relationships before your child starts dating. Start conversations about what to look for in a romantic partner. For example, you could ask your child:
In a healthy relationship:
In an unhealthy relationship:
People in unhealthy relationships may make excuses to try to explain away the hurtful parts of the relationship. If you see any of these signs, talk to your teen.
Dating violence is when one person in a romantic relationship is abusive to the other person. This includes:
Abuse can happen in person, online, or with other technology (like cell phones). And it can happen in any relationship, whether it’s an opposite-sex (straight) or same-sex relationship. Find out more about teen dating violence.
Both boys and girls can be unhealthy or unsafe in a relationship. Sometimes, both partners act in unhealthy or unsafe ways. It’s important to talk to all kids about how to have respectful, healthy relationships.
Dating violence can happen to anyone. Teens may be more at risk of being in unhealthy relationships if they:
It’s common for teens to have mood swings or try out different behaviors. But sudden changes in your teen’s attitude or behavior could mean that something more serious is going on. If you are worried, talk to your teen to find out more.
Show your teen this fact sheet about healthy and unhealthy relationships [PDF - 681 KB].
If your teen is in a relationship with someone who uses violence, your teen may:
Teens who use physical, emotional, or sexual violence to control their partners need help to stop. Start a conversation if your teen:
Dating violence can have long-term effects for both partners – even after the relationship ends. By helping your teen develop the skills for healthy relationships, you can help prevent these long-term effects of dating violence.
Someone who has experienced dating violence may struggle with:
A partner who has been violent may experience:
Watch for signs of dating violence and help your teen stay healthy now and in the future.
Talk with your kids to help them develop realistic and healthy expectations for relationships.
Help your teen think about healthy relationships by asking how he’d handle different situations. You might ask, “What would you do if:
It may help to use examples from TV shows, movies, or songs to start the conversation.
Be sure to listen respectfully to your teen’s answer, even if you don’t agree. Then you can offer your opinion and explore other options together. Use these tips to start a conversation with your teen.
As kids get older, they gain more independence and freedom. But teens still need parents to set boundaries and expectations for behavior. Get tips on setting rules for your teen [PDF - 175 MB].
Here are some things to talk about with your teen:
You can teach your kids a lot by treating them and others with respect. As you talk with your teen about healthy relationships, think about your own behavior. Does it match the values you are talking about?
Treating your kids with respect also helps you build stronger relationships with them. This can make it easier to communicate with your teen about important issues like staying safe.
Check out these resources:
If you think your teen’s relationship might be violent, take these steps:
If you are worried about your teen’s safety, there are people who can help.
Loveisrespect is an organization that offers support and information for teens and their parents or friends who have concerns about dating relationships. To get in touch with a trained peer advocate, you can:
You can also contact your state’s domestic violence coalition to find resources near you.